Brunei became an independent Sultanate in the 15th century, controlling most of Borneo, its neighbouring islands and the Suhi Archipelago. By the end of the 16th century, however, the power of Brunei was on the wane. By the middle of the 19th century the State had been reduced to its present limits. Brunei became a British protectorate in 1888. The discovery of major oilfields in the western end of the State in the 1920s brought economic stability and created a new lifestyle for the population. Brunei was occupied by the Japanese in 1941 and liberated by the Australians in 1945. Self-government was introduced in 1959 but Britain retained responsibility for foreign affairs. In 1965 constitutional changes were made which led to direct elections for a new Legislative Council. Full independence and sovereignty were gained in Jan. 1984.
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