Historical findings suggest the Brunei Kingdom began more than 1,500 years ago, referred to as Puni or Puli in ancient Chinese texts.

In the 14th Century the country’s first ruler Awang Alak Betatar embraced the Islamic faith and changed his name to Sultan Muhammad Shah. As a territory administered by a Muslim government, subsequent Brunei sovereigns became known as Sultans.

The country’s Golden Age commenced in the 16th Century, reaching eminence when Brunei’s power was recognised throughout Borneo, the Sulu Archipelago and the Southern Philippines. However, by the 19th Century, the Brunei Empire began to decline due to conflicts and the colonial expansion of European powers. In 1888, Brunei became a British protected state and two years later, Brunei was reduced to its present size. The country was divided into two enclaves, with Temburong separated from Brunei-Muara, Tutong and Belait districts.

In 1906, the Residential System was established in Brunei. Under this system, a British Resident was appointed to advise the Sultan on all matters except Malay customs, traditions and Islamic religion.

Following the aftermath of the World War II, Brunei gradually began to recover and made a major breakthrough during the reign of Sultan Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien which coincided with the country’s first commercial discovery of oil in 1929. As the oil and gas industry grew, Brunei underwent a massive economic growth and transformed into a thriving, modern state. The Residential System was then abolished in 1959.

In 1967, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al- Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam was proclaimed as the Sultan of Brunei. The following year, His Majesty was crowned as the 29th Sultan, leading Brunei to even greater development.

Brunei and Great Britain signed an amended and revised version of the 1959 Agreement in 1971, giving Brunei full internal independence except defence and external affairs. In 1979, the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation was signed, paving the way for Brunei’s full independence in five years’ time.

In 1984, Brunei gained independence and attained self-government from the British. His Majesty declared Brunei as a fully independent sovereign nation ready to resume its international responsibilities.

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