Contrary to modern theories of developing nations, Brunei Darussalam, which has a very high rate of literacy, is also one of the few countries where the traditional elite retains absolute political power.
The oil-rich sultanate of Brunei Darussalam is located on the northern coast of Borneo between the two Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah. Though the country is small in size and in population, the variety of language use there provides a veritable laboratory for linguists in the fields of Austronesian linguistics, bilingual studies, and sociolinguistic studies, particularly those dealing with language shift.
In 1904 the British Protectorate of Brunei had reached the nadir of its fortunes. Reduced to two small strips of territory, bankrupt, and threatened with takeover by the Rajah of Sarawak (Sir Charles Brooke), Brunei received M. S. H. McArthur who was dispatched to make recommendations for Brunei's future administration.