Brunei People - 2021


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


471,103 (July 2021 est.)

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


noun: Bruneian(s)

adjective: Bruneian

Ethnic groups

Malay 65.7%, Chinese 10.3%, other 24% (2019 est.)


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

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

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.


Muslim (official) 78.8%, Christian 8.7%, Buddhist 7.8%, other (includes indigenous beliefs) 4.7% (2011 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: 22.41% (male 53,653/female 50,446)

15-24 years: 16.14% (male 37,394/female 37,559)

25-54 years: 47.21% (male 103,991/female 115,291)

55-64 years: 8.34% (male 19,159/female 19,585)

65 years and over: 5.9% (male 13,333/female 14,067) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 38.7

youth dependency ratio: 31

elderly dependency ratio: 7.7

potential support ratio: 12.9 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 31.1 years

male: 30.5 years

female: 31.8 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.48% (2021 est.)

Birth rate

16.3 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Death rate

3.75 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Net migration rate

2.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)


urban population: 78.6% of total population (2021)

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

Major urban areas - population

241,000 BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (capital) (2011)

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

15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.9 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

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

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

31 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.79 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 13.21 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 8.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78.14 years

male: 75.75 years

female: 80.63 years (2021 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.75 children born/woman (2021 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: total: 100% of population

unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

2.4% (2018)

Physicians density

1.61 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

2.9 beds/1,000 population (2017)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

14.1% (2016)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

9.6% (2009)

Education expenditures

4.4% of GDP (2016)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.2%

male: 98.1%

female: 93.4% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years

male: 14 years

female: 15 years (2019)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 21.4%

male: 19%

female: 25.8% (2019 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Brunei on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Brunei 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Brunei 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.