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ICC Note: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the world’s second longest reigning monarch from Brunei celebrated his golden jubilee on October 5th. Due to its vast energy reserves, Brunei was able to grow its economy rapidly after it gained full independence from Britain in 1984. Nevertheless, as the oil prices collapsed a few years ago, Brunei was plunged into a lengthy recession. In the last few years, Brunei also started shifting towards hardline Islam which earned them criticism and condemnation from the United Nations. Brunei introduced fines and jail terms for offenses including indecent behavior and failure to attend Friday prayers. Moreover, the country banned Christmas celebrations as religious leaders believe that festival trees and singing carols run counter to Islam.

10/05/2017 Brunei (Channel News Asia) – Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the world’s second-longest reigning monarch, celebrated his golden jubilee Thursday (Oct 5) with lavish celebrations, including a glittering procession and 21-gun salute.

The tiny country has some of the world’s highest living standards because of its energy reserves but faces major challenges due to the collapse of oil prices, and has been criticised in recent years because of a shift towards hardline Islam.

Here are some facts about the sultanate:

LONG HISTORY

The history of the tiny, coastal sultanate on tropical Borneo island, which is surrounded by Malaysia, stretches back centuries.

It was at its peak in the 15th century, when it had an empire controlling large swathes of Borneo.

But it declined as European powers extended their colonial rule across Asia, and in 1888 became a British protectorate. However it was not subsumed into the new states that were formed during the colonial era and after World War II, as many sultanates in the region were.

The country gained full independence from Britain in 1984, and saw its economy grow at a rapid pace as it reaped the benefits of its abundant oil and gas reserves.

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