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Brunei Darussalam

The tiny sultanate of Brunei is a remnant of a naval empire that once controlled all of Borneo and part of the present-day Philippines. Nevertheless this quiet darussalam (Arabic for 'abode of peace') has the largest oilfields in Southeast Asia (though they're due to run dry in 30 years).

Look beneath the surface of this tightly regulated sultanate and you'll see the wisely conserved wildness of its natural environment, thanks in part to the money generated by the oilfields. Old-growth, primary forest abounds, especially in verdant Ulu Temburong National Park.

However, the introduction of a strict interpretation of sharia law in April 2019 has prompted global criticism and concern. Under the new legislation, adultery and homosexual acts are punishable by death by stoning, and theft is punishable by the amputation of limbs. As the world struggles to come to terms with Brunei's new direction, the future of tourism is uncertain.

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