Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque at dusk © Sam Garza
Despite its modest size, the sultanate of Brunei Darussalam has a wealth of natural resources and worthwhile tourist attractions. It's also one of Asia's safest and most environmentally pristine countries. Travellers will find much of value within its borders.
Culturally speaking, Brunei's identity flows from its Malay majority and deeply entrenched Islamic traditions, bound together by the sultanate's uninterrupted 600-year royal heritage. Its citizens enjoy one of the world's highest standards of living, receiving free healthcare, housing and education from the Sultan, who is the sole beneficiary of the country's oil reserves.
Essentially, the country is divided into two halves. Most of its population lives in the larger western territory, where the modern capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is located. The rest of Brunei's people are residents of the mostly rural and mountainous eastern region. Adventurous travellers will relish its virgin rainforest.
Travellers should also visit the country's architectural treasures, such as the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, the fascinating traditional water villages, and the Sultan's palace, Istana Nurul Iman, which is the world's largest palace still in use. BSB has some worthwhile beaches, too, most notably Jerudong.
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