Brunei Darussalam, History
Omar Ali Saifuddin, British dependency, sultan of Brunei, sultanate of Brunei, British protectorate
In the early 16th century Brunei was a sultanate with nominal authority over the whole of Borneo and some parts of the Sulu Islands in the Philippines. It was first visited by Europeans in 1521, by the Spanish navigator Juan Sebastian del Cano. After this encounter, trade with Europeans, as well as piratical activities directed against them, developed quickly. The Spanish captured the capital in 1580 but were soon compelled to evacuate it. In 1645 a Spanish expedition failed to end Malay piracy in the region. Brunei was noted as a haven for pirates at the end of the 18th century. About 1849 the British, seeking to protect commerce between Singapore and northwest Borneo, started operations against the pirate fleets and destroyed them within five years. A few years earlier the sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddin II, had granted Sarawak to the British army officer James Brooke as a reward for aid in quelling a civil war. Brooke assumed the title of raja and gradually extended his territory at the sultanís expense.
By 1846, when the island of Labuan was ceded to Britain, Brunei had been reduced almost to its present size. In 1888 it became a British protectorate. In 1906 the administration of the sultanate of Brunei was placed in the hands of a British resident, although the sultan remained in nominal authority. In 1959 the sultan, Omar Ali Saifuddin III, promulgated the first written constitution. Invited to join the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, Brunei was the only Malay state that elected to remain a British dependency. In January 1979, the British government signed a new treaty with the sultan, Muda Hassanal Bolkiah, and Brunei became an independent sovereign country on January 1, 1984.
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