Kampong Ayer is a historic settlement area in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei. It literally means 'water village' (Malay: Kampung Air). Kampong Ayer consists of a cluster of traditional stilt villages built on the Brunei River, mainly in the vicinity of the present-day Pusat Bandar or the City Centre. Hence, it has often been dubbed as 'Venice of the East' since the past. Kampong Ayer has been historically the principal settlement of Brunei; it was the de facto capital, in particular social and economic centre, of the Bruneian Empire for a few centuries, but also extending into the early period during British imperialism in Brunei.