• Nepal!

    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Japan!

    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

  • Bahrain!

    Bahrain: Desert. Go Now!

    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

  • Laos!

    Laos: Karst peak. Go Now!

    The simplicity and natural beauty of the countryside make Laos a hidden gem in Southeast Asia overlooked by most travelers. Begin Your Journey!

  • Tajikistan!

    Tajikistan: A yurt in the mountains. Go Now!

    The high mountains have mysteries around every turn, including yurts (pictured), a home for the nomadic people. Go Now!

Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Brunei


The majority of people in Brunei (about two thirds) are ethnically Malay, a group related to the people of both Micronesia and Polynesia. Obviously, these people are most closely related to the people of Malaysia, Indonesia, and to a lesser degree, numerous Pacific islands. The next largest ethnic group in Brunei is Han Chinese, who are identical to the Han Chinese in China itself. There are also various other people in the country and the remaining 20% of the population is made up of people from numerous ethnic groups.


Malay is the only official language in Brunei and it is the native language of most of the population. Malaysian is a part of the Polynesian language family and Malay's closest relative is Indonesian.

There are numerous ethnic Chinese in Brunei who speak Mandarin or another a Chinese language as well as numerous other ethnic minorities who have their own languages. English is the most commonly taught second language and many people, especially in the cities, have at least a basic understanding of English.


Muslim is the official religion of Brunei and nearly two thirds of the population adheres to this religion; nearly all of whom are ethnically Malay. The last third is almost evenly divided into Buddhists (primarily ethnic Chinese), Christians, and other belief systems, including indigenous belief systems.

Islam (the name of the religion, whose followers are called Muslims) is a monotheistic religion, whose holy book is called the Qur'an. The Qur'an is believed to be the word of God spoken through the prophet Muhammad from 609-632 CE (Common Era is preferred over AD (Anno Domini or "year of the Lord") since the Islamic world doesn't believe Jesus was the messiah). Islam believes Muhammad was the last prophet sent to earth by God, the last in a long line of prophets, which includes Moses, Abraham, and Jesus among others.

Muslims follow five pillars of their faith: testimony, prayer, alms-giving, fasting, and pilgrimage. These pillars, and other tenants of their faith, can give great structure to their lives as some foods, like pork, are forbidden and every Muslim is expected to pray five times a day. However, the level of participation in each of these pillars and to what degree Islam influences an individual's life varies from person to person and community to community. Generally speaking, Brunei has a mix of both liberal and conservative Muslims in how they practice.

This page was last updated: May, 2014