Moving to Brunei
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A comprehensive guide to moving to Brunei
For many expats, moving to Brunei stands first and foremost for exploring a rich and unique culture. But with amazing scenery and a thriving economy, there's more to this petite country than meets the eye. Check out InterNations GO! for a guide to Brunei's climate, population and transport connections!
Relocating to Brunei
The Land and Its People
Brunei is a largely international, sovereign state on the north coast of Borneo in Southeast Asia. With a population of just over 400,000, Brunei is far less populated than many countries, although it is fairly densely populated with around 72 people per square kilometer. Gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1984, Brunei has quickly become a financial powerhouse, with Forbes magazine ranking it as the 5th richest nation of the 182 that they surveyed. The population enjoys a quite diverse demographic with around 66% being Malay, 11% Chinese, 3% indigenous and with the remaining 20% being from various locations across the world.
Located on the island of Borneo, Brunei is a southeastern Asian country made up of two unconnected parts. The country is over 2,000 square miles and shares borders with Malaysia. About 97% of the 400,000 people that make up Brunei’s population live in the Western half of the country, with only about 10,000 people living in the Temburong District. Around 150,000 people live in Bandar Seri Begawan, the country’s capital, and the majority of the rest of the population are centered around the other important towns and districts.
Brunei’s official language is Malay, although, English is primarily used in the business world. This allows for a diverse range of internationals and expats living and working in the country – English is also used as the educational language from primary through to tertiary education.
Brunei is home to a relatively large expatriate community made up largely of businessmen and women brought to the country by the successful and highly profitable economy, as well as expats that have retired to the nation to enjoy the more Eastern culture as well as the tropical environment. Many of these expatriates can be found in the Belait District, which hosts the Royal Dutch Shell headquarters and parts of the British Army.
Brunei is a sharia nation and practices Islam as its main faith. However, given the diversity of its population it is generally very accepting of all faiths. Sharia law bans the sale and consumption of alcohol, though, the Bruneian government allows non-Muslims to bring in a limited supply from their point of embarkation overseas for their own private use.
The Climate in Brunei
The majority of Bruneian land is located within the Borneo lowland rain-forests ecoregion, with areas of mountainous rain-forest inland. Due to its exotic nature, Brunei is likely to attract expats with a sense for adventure and a desire to experience climates and environments that they have not experienced before.
The Bruneian climate is tropical equatorial and as such, the country experiences both a lot of heat and a lot of rainfall. Typically, the country does not experience a dry season and there is little to separate its winters and summers. The average annual temperature is around 26°C, with an April to May average of around 24°C and an October to December average of about 23.8°C.
Getting to Brunei
Brunei International Airport is the country’s main airport and is the primary access point for expats and visitors. It serves as the headquarters for Royal Brunei Airlines and the Royal Brunei Air Force too. The airport, which is located about 10 minutes from the center of the capital, can be reached by regular taxi or bus services, and serves destinations across Asia and Oceania; the only airport outside of these regions that is currently served is London Heathrow.
Brunei is also accessible by sea and land with a ferry terminal at Muara that services regular connections to the Malaysian port of Labuan. Speedboats provide passage of goods and passengers to the Temburong District, and it is possible to leave the country via road, and head into Malaysian territory.
Largely thanks to its international connections and high-worth economy, Brunei is very easy to leave and enter with each service – whether it be by sea, road or air – being regular and well kept.