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Brunei People - 2024


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


484,991 (2023 est.)

note: immigrants make up approximately 26% of the total population, according to UN data (2019)


noun: Bruneian(s)

adjective: Bruneian

Ethnic groups

Malay 67.4%, Chinese 9.6%, other 23% (2021 est.)


Malay (Bahasa Melayu) (official), English, Chinese dialects

major-language sample(s):
Buku Fakta Dunia, sumber yang diperlukan untuk maklumat asas. (Malay)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Malay audio sample:


Muslim (official) 82.1%, Christian 6.7%, Buddhist 6.3%, other 4.9% (2021 est.)

Demographic profile

Brunei is a small, oil-rich sultanate of less than half a million people, making it the smallest country in Southeast Asia by population.  Its total fertility rate – the average number of births per woman – has been steadily declining over the last few decades, from over 3.5 in the 1980s to below replacement level today at nearly 1.8.  The trend is due to women’s increased years of education and participation in the workforce, which have resulted in later marriages and fewer children.  Yet, the population continues to grow because of the large number of women of reproductive age and a reliance on foreign labor – mainly from Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and South Asian countries – to fill low-skilled jobs.

Brunei is officially Muslim, and Malay is the official language.  The country follows an official Malay national ideology, Malay Islamic Monarchy, which promotes Malay language and culture, Islamic values, and the monarchy.  Only seven of Brunei’s native groups are recognized in the constitution and are defined as “Malay” – Brunei Malays, Belait, Kedayan, Dusun, Bisayak, Lun Bawang, and Sama-Baiau.  Together they make up about 66% percent of the population and are referred to as the Bumiputera.  The Bumiputera are entitled to official privileges, including land ownership, access to certain types of employment (Royal Brunei Armed Forces and Brunei Shell Petroleum), easier access to higher education, and better job opportunities in the civil service. 

Brunei’s Chinese population descends from migrants who arrived when Brunei was a British protectorate (1888 and 1984).  They are prominent in the non-state commercial sector and account for approximately 10% of the population.  Most Bruneian Chinese are permanent residents rather than citizens despite roots going back several generations.  Many are stateless and are denied rights granted to citizens, such as land ownership, subsidized health care, and free secondary and university education.  Because of the discriminatory policies, the number of Chinese in Brunei has shrunk considerably in the last 50 years.  Native ethnic groups that are not included in the Bumiputera are not recognized in the constitution and are not officially identified as “Malay” or automatically granted citizenship.  Foreign workers constitute some quarter of the labor force.

Age structure

0-14 years: 21.83% (male 54,523/female 51,334)

15-64 years: 71.07% (male 164,957/female 179,721)

65 years and over: 7.1% (2023 est.) (male 16,748/female 17,708)

2023 population pyramid:

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 39.2

youth dependency ratio: 31.1

elderly dependency ratio: 8.1

potential support ratio: 12.4 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 32 years (2023 est.)

male: 31.1 years

female: 32.8 years

Population growth rate

1.43% (2023 est.)

Birth rate

16 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Death rate

3.9 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Net migration rate

2.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Population distribution

the vast majority of the population is found along the coast in the western part of Brunei, which is separated from the eastern portion by Malaysia; the largest population concentration is in the far north on the western side of the Brunei Bay, in and around the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan


urban population: 79.1% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.44% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

266,682 BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (capital) (2021)

note: the boundaries of the capital city were expanded in 2007, greatly increasing the city area; the population of the capital increased tenfold

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

44 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 12.6 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.9 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78.6 years (2023 est.)

male: 76.3 years

female: 81.1 years

Total fertility rate

1.74 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Gross reproduction rate

0.85 (2023 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate


Drinking water source

improved: urban: 99.7% of population

rural: N/A

total: 99.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.4% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0.1% of population (2020)

Current health expenditure

2.4% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

1.61 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

2.9 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: N/A

rural: N/A

total: N/A

unimproved: urban: N/A

rural: N/A

total: N/A

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

14.1% (2016)

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.69 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.66 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.04 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Tobacco use

total: 16.2% (2020 est.)

male: 30% (2020 est.)

female: 2.3% (2020 est.)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight


Currently married women (ages 15-49)

54.3% (2023 est.)

Education expenditures

4.4% of GDP (2016 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.6%

male: 98.3%

female: 96.9% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years

male: 14 years

female: 14 years (2020)

NOTE: The information regarding Brunei on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Brunei 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Brunei 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.