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Ancient Sovereignty in Southeast Asia

By Linda Tancs

One of the most ancient sovereign states in Southeast Asia (dating as far back as the 5th century), Brunei Darussalam is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo bordered by the South China Sea. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is home to the opulent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque and its 29 golden domes, one for each of the nation’s 29 sultan rulers. The capital’s massive Istana Nurul Iman palace is the residence of Brunei’s ruling sultan, a dwelling recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest living residence of a head of state. Despite its grandiose accoutrements, Brunei is a quieter alternative to other oil-rich countries like Dubai. It features the unpretentious water village Kampong Ayer, pristine beaches and a biodiverse rainforest.

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