The sultanate of Brunei Darussalam in Southeast Asia is known as a strong seat of Muslim culture, Asian ideology and the best place to see the most beautiful mosques and palaces. It is fortunate that the country has put up an institute with the distinct goal of preserving the sultanate’s rich and interesting history. This institute is the Brunei History Center located in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan.
Bandar Seri Begawan is one of the most lavish capital cities in this part of the world. Although Brunei is much smaller than its neighboring countries, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, the capital city is most unique since it is literally glittering with golden domes, sparkling fountains, and amazing architecture. It is as though Bandar Seri Begawan is making a clear statement that Brunei has one of the wealthiest economies in the world, which is true.
In the past, the country suffered from territorial disputes and colonial control from European superpowers as did other Southeast Asian countries. The British, Spanish and Japanese all came and conquered. Even after World War II, it was the British who rebuilt the sultanate.
In the 1920’s, Brunei made a giant leap to national prosperity and economic stability as it discovered a number of oil wells. Since their discovery, the wells and oil sources have not reduced their supply of natural gas and petroleum, which means the country is not in any way less wealthy than before. Brunei gained its independence from the British only on January 1, 1984. It is an amazing Cinderella story of a nation, and today, this history is highlighted at the Brunei History Center.
With its newfound freedom, Brunei established the capital city in 1982 upon the decree of the sultan. The sultan was declared as the Supreme Head of State. To help him lead national affairs, the national government put up five councils, which include the Executive, Legislative, Privy, Succession, and State Religious Councils. The Islam religion played and continues to play an important role in the country’s history, economy, tourism, and daily affairs.
The History Center attempts to unearth, provide and preserve factual and accurate records concerning the country’s geological past. It keeps and updates the biographies of Brunei’s past and present sultans and their families, as well as other state dignitaries.
The History Center is divided into five display categories that represent five different historical periods. The categories, named simply as Areas 1 to 5, are divided this way. Area 1 represents the earliest recorded time in Bruneian history. Highlighted here is a geological stone tablet with ancient inscriptions listing the names of past kings from 1368 to 1807.
Area 2 also focuses on Ancient Brunei, while Area 3 is dedicated to the beginning and spread of the Islam religion in the country. Area 4 highlights Brunei’s Golden Years, while Area 5 focuses on the country’s modern progress, including the time of independence from British rule.
Brunei History Center is for everyone to see and learn about the country’s history. Located at the corner of Stoney and James Peace roads in Bandar Seri Begawan, the History Center is easy to find since public buses pass by it. It is open every day except on Friday and Sunday. Admission is free.