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Living in Brunei
A practical guide to the way of life in Brunei
As a calm “darussalam” (Arabic for “abode of peace”), Brunei offers expats the rare advantage of a quiet and serene lifestyle. Remarkably though, it also features all the conveniences of a modern lifestyle. Read on to find out more about healthcare, education and transportation in Brunei.
Life in Brunei
Healthcare in Brunei
Expats can feel confident about their health whilst living in Brunei knowing that there is a hospital in every district, along with 10 health clinics and 16 health centers dotted about the capital and largest city, Bandar Seri Begawan. The number of beds works out just under 3 per 1,000 members of the population, and measures are in place to send patients abroad in the event of an illness or condition that cannot be treated without extra medical facilities – between 2011 and 2012, the government spent around 12 million Brunei dollars on the treatment of citizens in Malaysia and Singapore. Healthcare is charged at a rate of just 1 BND (approx.. 0.75 USD) per consultation for citizens of Brunei.
Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital is the largest in Brunei, holding 538 beds, and it is located in the country’s capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan. There are also two privately run medical centers, Gleneagles JPMC Sdn Bhd and Jerudong Medial Centre.
In general, studies have shown that life in Brunei is healthier in terms of weight and obesity than it is in most Western nations. For example, only 7.5% of the population suffer from obesity compared to the roughly one in four people who suffer with the condition in the UK – however, the number has risen in the young population with around 20% of children being overweight or obese today.
Education in Brunei
Formal education first appeared in Brunei in the early 1900s, and given the nations’ former ties to the UK, many of them run similarly to English schools. By 1959, it was normal for the population to be enrolled in school and in 1984 a bilingual education policy was introduced to make sure that pupils could maintain a high proficiency in English – the country’s working language – and Malay.
In a system that will be familiar to British expats, the formal Brunei school system adopts a pattern of 7 years of primary education, three years of lower secondary, two years of upper secondary, two years of upper secondary or vocational education, and then two years of pre-tertiary education. Brunei houses several universities, but the oldest and most well-know is Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
There are several international schools in Brunei that offer the Cambridge IGCSE qualification, and the national equivalent is the Cambridge O Level. International School Brunei (ISB) is the oldest in the country and was also the first to offer the IB diploma, an internationally recognized 16-19 qualification.
Given the availability of different schools, both national and international, as well as the British influence on the educational system, it is more than likely that expats’ kids from around the world will be able to easily adapt to the local education system. And with the country operating with English as its working language, there is space for expatriates to be able to communicate in this widely spoken lingua franca while they get fully settled into their new life abroad.
Transportation in Brunei
The Bruneian population centers are linked by a network of roads stretching to about 1700 miles, and currently the 84 mile highway that connects Muara Town, the nation’s only deep seaport, to Kuala Belait, the nation’s main administrative town, is being upgraded to a dual carriageway to ease the flow of traffic between these two important financial points.
With one private car for every 2.09 members of the population, Brunei has one of the higher car ownership rates in the world. This has been linked to the lack of a significant public transport system, but also to the low import tax and low unleaded petrol price of around 0.53 BND per liter.
The main highway that that runs across all of Brunei is the Tutong-Muara Highway, and the country’s road network is generally well developed with road upkeep being a key part of maintaining the transportation of oil that is at the heart of Brunei’s successful economy. A new 19 mile roadway connecting the Muara, Brunei’s smallest but most populace district, and Temburong, an exclave that is separated from mainland Brunei by the Brunei Bay, over which 9 miles of the new roadway will be built.
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