Singapore in

Show Map

Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, 137 km north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to its south. Singapore is highly urbanised but almost half of the country is covered by greenery. More land is being created for development through land reclamation.

Singapore had been a part of various local empires since it was first inhabited in the second century AD. Modern Singapore was founded as a trading post of the East India Company by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 with permission from the Sultanate of Johor. The British obtained full sovereignty over the island in 1824 and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826. Singapore was occupied by the Japanese in World War II and reverted to British rule after the war. It became internally self-governing in 1959. Singapore united with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963 and became a fully independent state two years later after separation from Malaysia. Since then it has had a massive increase in wealth, and is one of the Four Asian Tigers. The economy heavily depends on the industry and service sectors. Singapore is a world leader in several areas: it is the world's fourth leading financial centre, the world's second biggest casino gambling market, the world's top three oil refining centre. The port of Singapore is one of the five busiest ports in the world, most notably being the busiest transshipment port in the world. The country is home to more US dollar millionaire households per capita than any other country. The World Bank notes Singapore as the easiest place in the world to do business.

Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government. The People's Action Party (PAP) has won every election since the British grant of internal self-government in 1959. The legal system of Singapore has its foundations in the English common law system, but modifications have been made to it over the years, such as the removal of trial by jury. The PAP's popular image is that of a strong, experienced and highly qualified government, backed by a skilled Civil Service and an education system with an emphasis on achievement and meritocracy; but it is perceived by some voters, opposition critics and international observers as being authoritarian and too restrictive on individual freedom.

Some 5 million people live in Singapore, of whom 2.91 million were born locally. Most are of Chinese, Malay or Indian descent. There are four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. One of the five founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations, Singapore also hosts the APEC Secretariat, and is a member of the East Asia Summit, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth.

Etymology

The English name of Singapore is derived from the Malay Singapura (Sanskrit सिंहपुर Lion City), hence the customary reference to the nation as the Lion City. Lions probably never lived there; the beast seen by Sang Nila Utama, founder of ancient Singapore, who gave the city its name, was most likely a tiger.

History

The earliest known settlement on Singapore was in the second century AD. It was an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire, named Temasek ('sea town'). Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, it was part of the Sultanate of Johor. In 1613, Portuguese raiders burnt down the settlement and the island sank into obscurity for the next two centuries.

In 1819, Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived and signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah on behalf of the British East India Company to develop the southern part of Singapore as a British trading post. In 1824 the entire island became a British possession under a further treaty whereby the sultan and the Temenggong transferred it to the British East India Company. In 1826 it became part of the Straits Settlements, a British colony. Before Raffles arrived, there were around 1,000 people living in Singapore, mostly Malays and a few dozen Chinese. By 1869, due to migration from Malaya and other parts of Asia, Singapore's population had reached 100,000.

During World War II the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Malaya culminating in the Battle of Singapore. The British were defeated, and surrendered on 15 February 1942. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history". The Sook Ching massacre of ethnic Chinese after the fall of Singapore claimed between 5,000 and 25,000 lives. The Japanese occupied Singapore until the British repossessed it in September 1945 after the Japanese surrender.

Singapore's first general election in 1955 was won by the pro-independence David Marshall, leader of the Labour Front. Demanding complete self-rule he led a delegation to London but was turned down by the British. He resigned when he returned and was replaced by Lim Yew Hock, whose policies convinced Britain to grant Singapore full internal self-government for all matters except defence and foreign affairs.

In elections in May 1959 the People's Action Party won a landslide victory. Singapore had become an internally self-governing state within the Commonwealth, with Lee Kuan Yew as the first Prime Minister. Governor Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode served as the first Yang di-Pertuan Negara, and was succeeded by Yusof bin Ishak who in 1965 became the first President of Singapore.

Singapore gained sovereignty as the Republic of Singapore (remaining within the Commonwealth) on 9 August 1965 Freedom House ranks Singapore as "partly free" in its Freedom in the World report, The president is elected through popular vote, and has some veto powers for a few key decisions such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of judges, but otherwise occupies a ceremonial post.

The Parliament serves as the legislative branch of government. The People's Action Party has won control of Parliament with large majorities in every election since self-governance was secured in 1959. However, in the most recent parliamentary elections in 2011, the opposition, led by the Workers' Party, made significant gains and increased its representation in the House to 6 elected MPs.

The legal system of Singapore is based on English common law, albeit with substantial local differences. Trial by jury was entirely abolished in 1970 leaving judicial assessment performed wholly by judgeship. Singapore has penalties that include judicial corporal punishment in the form of caning for rape, rioting, vandalism, and some immigration offences. There is a mandatory death penalty for murder, and for certain drug-trafficking and firearms offences. Amnesty International has said that some legal provisions conflict with the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that Singapore has "possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population". The government has disputed Amnesty's claims. In a 2008 survey, international business executives believed Singapore, along with Hong Kong, had the best judicial system in Asia.

Geography


Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the main island, widely known as Singapore Island but also as Pulau Ujong. There are two man-made connections to Johor, Malaysia: the Johor–Singapore Causeway in the north, and the Tuas Second Link in the west. Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest of Singapore's smaller islands. The highest natural point is Bukit Timah Hill at 166 m.

There are ongoing land reclamation projects, which have increased Singapore's land area from 581.5 km2 in the 1960s to 704 km2 today; it may grow by another 100 km2 by 2030. Some projects involve merging smaller islands through land reclamation to form larger, more functional islands, as with Jurong Island. About 23% of Singapore's land area consists of forest and nature reserves. Urbanisation has eliminated most primary rainforest, with Bukit Timah Nature Reserve the only significant remaining forest.

Today, Singapore has a highly developed market-based economy, based historically on extended entrepôt trade. Along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the original Four Asian Tigers. The Singaporean economy is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, most business friendly and least corrupt in the world. The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom ranks Singapore as the second freest economy in the world, behind Hong Kong. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index Singapore is also consistently ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, along with New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries.

Singapore is the 14th largest exporter and the 15th largest importer in the world. The country has the highest trade to GDP ratio in the world at 407.9 percent, signifying the importance of trade to its economy. The country is currently the only Asian country to have AAA credit ratings from all three major credit rating agencies – Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch. Singapore attracts a lot of foreign direct investment because of its location, corruption-free environment, skilled work force, low tax rates and advanced infrastructure. There are more than 7,000 multi-national corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe in Singapore. There are also 1,500 companies from China and another 1,500 from India based in Singapore. Foreign firms are found in almost all sectors of the economy.

The Singaporean economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing, which constituted 27.2% of GDP in 2010 To attract more tourists, in 2005 the government legalised gambling and allowed two casino resorts (called Integrated Resorts) to be developed. Singapore is promoting itself as a medical tourism hub: about 200,000 foreigners seek medical care there each year, and Singapore medical services aim to serve one million foreign patients annually by 2012 and generate USD 3 billion in revenue. Singapore is an education hub, and many foreign students study in Singapore. Singapore hosted over 80,000 international students in 2006. There are also more than 5000 Malaysians students who cross the Johor–Singapore Causeway every morning with hopes of receiving a better education in Singapore. In 2009, 20% of all students in Singaporean universities were international students. The students were mainly from ASEAN, China and India.

Singapore is a world leader in several economic areas: the country is the world's fourth leading financial centre, the world's second biggest casino gambling market, one of the world's top three oil refining centres, the world's largest oil-rig producer, and a major ship-repairer. The port is one of the five busiest ports in the world. It has diplomatic relations with 175 other Sovereign states. As one of the five founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the country is a strong supporter of the ASEAN Free Trade Area and the ASEAN Investment Area, because Singapore's economic growth is closely linked with the economic progress of the region as a whole. Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong proposed the formation of an ASEAN Economic Community, a step beyond the current AFTA bringing it closer to a common market. This idea was agreed to in 2007 for implementation in 2015. Other regional organisations are also important to Singapore, and it is the host of the APEC Secretariat. Singapore also maintains membership in other regional organisations, such as Asia-Europe Meeting, the Forum for East Asia-Latin American Cooperation, and the East Asia Summit. Malaysia has often come into conflict with Singapore over the delivery of fresh water to Singapore, and access to Malaysian airspace for the Singapore Armed Forces, among others. Singapore has pushed regional counter-terrorism initiatives, with a strong resolve to deal with terrorists inside its borders. To this end it has given support to the US-led coalition to fight terrorism, with bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation initiatives, and joint military exercises. Relations with the United States have expanded in other areas, and the two countries share a free trade agreement and take part in joint policy dialogues. This principle translates into the culture, involving all citizens in the country's defence. The government spends 4.9% of the country's GDP on the military

The Singaporean army was initially established with help from Britain and Israel, a country which is not recognised by neighbouring Islamic Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. The main fear after independence was an invasion by Malaysia and/or Indonesia. Israel Defense Forces commanders were tasked with creating the Singapore Armed Forces from scratch and Israeli instructors were brought in to train Singaporean soldiers. Military courses were conducted according to the Israel Defense Forces' format and Singapore adopted the Israel Defense Forces' model of conscription and reserve service, which remains till this day.

Because of the scarcity of open land on the main island, training involving activities such as live firing and amphibious landings is often carried out on smaller islands, typically barred to civilian access. This also avoids risk to the main island and the city. However, large-scale drills are considered too dangerous to be performed in the area, and since 1975 have been performed in Taiwan,

The median age of Singaporeans is 37 years old and the average household size is 3.5 persons. Due to scarcity of land, four out of five Singaporeans live in subsidised, high-rise, public housing apartments known as HDB flats. In 2010, three quarters of Singaporean residents live in properties that are equal to or larger than a four room HDB flat or in private housing. House ownership rate is at 87.2%. Mobile phone penetration rate is extremely high at 1,400 mobile phone subscribers per 1000 people. Around 1 in 10 residents owns a car. The government is considering capping these workers, although it is recognised that they play a large role in the country's economy. Foreign workers make up 80% of the construction industry and up to 50% in the service industry.

In 2009, the government census reports that 74.2% of residents were of Chinese, 13.4% of Malay, and 9.2% of Indian descent, while Eurasians and other groups form 3.2%. Prior to 2010, each person could only register as a member of one race, by default that of his or her father, therefore, mixed-race persons were solely grouped under their father's race in government censuses. From 2010 onwards, people may register using a "double-barrelled" classification, in which they may choose one primary race and one secondary race, but no more than two.

Religion

{{bar box |title=Religion in Singapore

There are monasteries and Dharma centres from all three major traditions of Buddhism in Singapore: Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Most Buddhists in Singapore are Chinese and are of the Mahayana tradition. Chinese Mahayana is the most predominant form of Buddhism in Singapore, with missionaries from Taiwan and China for several decades. However, Thailand's Theravada Buddhism has seen growing popularity amongst the people (not only the Chinese) in the past decade. Soka Gakkai International, a Japanese Buddhist organisation, is practised by many people in Singapore, but by mostly those of Chinese descent. Tibetan Buddhism has also made slow inroads into the country in recent years.

Languages

{{bar box |title=Native languages of Singaporeans English is the first language of the nation and is the language of business, government and medium of instruction in schools. The Singapore constitution and all laws are written in English. 80% of Singaporeans are literate in English as either their first or second language. Chinese Mandarin is the next commonly spoken, followed by Malay and Tamil.

Chinese is the most common home language, used by about half of all Singaporeans. Singaporean Mandarin is the most common version of Chinese in the country, with 1.2 million using it as their home language. Nearly half a million speak other Chinese languages (which the government describes as "dialects"), mainly Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese, as their home language, although the use of these is declining in favour of Mandarin and English.

Malay is the "national language", a ceremonial rather than functional designation to reflect the country's history. There are four standard subjects taught to all students: English, the mother tongue, mathematics, and science. Secondary school lasts from four to five years, and is divided between "Special", "Express", "Normal (Academic)", and "Normal (Technical)" streams within each school, depending on a student's ability level. The basic coursework breakdown is the same as in the primary level, although classes are much more specialised. Pre-university education takes place over two to three years at senior schools mostly called Junior Colleges. Some schools have a degree of freedom in their curriculum, and are known as autonomous schools. These exist from the secondary education level.

Singaporean students consistently rank top five in the world in the two major international assessments of mathematics and science knowledge. Singaporean students were ranked first in the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement and have been ranked top three every year since 1995. Singaporean students were also ranked top five in the world in terms of mathematics, science and reading in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment conducted by the OECD. The country's two main public universities - the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University - are amongst the top 100 universities in the world.

Health

Singapore has a generally efficient healthcare system, even with a health expenditure relatively low for developed countries. The World Health Organization ranks Singapore's healthcare system as 6th overall in the world in its World Health Report. Singapore generally has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world for the past two decades.

The government's healthcare system is based upon the "3M" framework. This has three components: Medifund, which provides a safety net for those who could not otherwise afford healthcare, Medisave, a compulsory health savings scheme covering about 85% of the population, and Medishield, a government-funded health insurance scheme. Due to the many different languages and cultures in the country, there is no single set of culturally acceptable behaviours.

When Singapore became independent from the United Kingdom in 1963, most of the newly minted Singaporean citizens were uneducated labourers from China, Malaysia and India. Many of them were transient labourers who were seeking to make some money in Singapore and they had no intentions of staying for good. A sizeable minority of middle-class, local-born people, known as the Peranakans also existed. With the exception of the Peranakans who pledged their loyalties to Singapore, most of the labourers' loyalties lie with their respective homelands of China, Malaysia and India. For instance, the Chinese wore pigtails to signify their loyalty to the Chinese emperor and remitted money to China. After independence, the process of crafting a Singaporean identity and culture began. Both ex Prime Ministers of Singapore -- Lee Kuan Yew (who was Prime Minister for over 30 years) and Goh Chok Tong -- have stated that Singapore does not fit the traditional description of a nation, calling it a society in transition, pointing out the fact that Singaporeans do not all speak the same language, share the same religion or have the same customs.

Unlike many other countries, languages, religions and cultures amongst Singaporeans are not delineated according to skin colour or ancestry. Amongst Singaporean Chinese, one in five are Christians, another one in five are atheists and the rest are mostly Buddhists or Taoists. One-third speak English as their home language, while half speak Mandarin Chinese as their home language. The rest speak other mutually unintelligible Chinese languages at home. and the variety of food representing different ethnicities is seen by the government as a symbol of its multiculturalism. The "national fruit" of Singapore is the Durian In popular culture, food items belong to a particular ethnicity, with Chinese, Indian, and Malay food clearly defined. The diversity of cuisine has been increased further by the "hybridization" of different styles, e.g. the Peranakan style, a mix of Chinese and Malay cuisine. and the first street circuit in Asia. Singapore won the bid to host the inaugural 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.

Media

Companies linked to the government control much of the domestic media in Singapore. MediaCorp operates most free-to-air television channels and free-to-air radio stations in Singapore. There are a total of seven free-to-air TV channels offered by Mediacorp. The channels are Channel 5 (English channel), Channel News Asia (English channel), Okto (English channel)), Channel 8 (Chinese channel), Channel U (Chinese channel), Suria (Malay channel) and Vasantham (Indian channel). Starhub Cable Vision (SCV) also offers cable television with channels from all around the world and Singtel's MioTV provides an IPTV service. Singapore Press Holdings, a body with close links to the government, controls most of the newspaper industry.

Singapore's media industry has sometimes been criticised for being too regulated and lacking in freedom by human rights groups such as Freedom House. Private ownership of TV satellite dishes is banned.<ref name="singstat" />

Most Singaporean residents travel by foot, bicycles, bus, taxis and by train (Mass Rapid Transit). Two companies run the public bus transport system -- SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation. SMRT also runs the public train system. There are almost a dozen taxi companies in Singapore who together put out 25,000 taxis on the road. Taxis are a popular form of public transport as the fares are relatively cheap compared to many other developed countries.

Singapore has a road system covering 3356 km which includes 161 km of expressways.<ref name="CIA"/> The Singapore Area Licensing Scheme, implemented in 1975, became the world's first congestion pricing scheme, and included other complementary measures such as stringent car ownership quotas and improvements in mass transit. The system was upgraded in 1998 and renamed Electronic Road Pricing. The ERP introduced electronic toll collection, electronic detection, and video surveillance technology.

Singapore is a major international transportation hub in Asia, positioned on many sea and air trade routes. The Port of Singapore, managed by port operators PSA International and Jurong Port, was the world's second busiest port in 2005 in terms of shipping tonnage handled, at 1.15 billion gross tons, and in terms of containerised traffic, at 23.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). It is also the world's second busiest in terms of cargo tonnage, coming behind Shanghai with 423 million tons handled. In addition, the port is the world's busiest for transshipment traffic and the world's biggest ship refuelling centre.

Singapore is an aviation hub for the Southeast Asian region and a stopover on the Kangaroo route between Sydney and London. There are 8 total airports in the country,<ref name="CIA"/> and Singapore Changi Airport hosts a network of 80 airlines connecting Singapore to 200 cities in 68 countries. It has been rated one of the best international airports by international travel magazines, including being rated as the world's best airport for the first time in 2006 by Skytrax. The national airline is Singapore Airlines.

See also

  • International rankings of Singapore
Notes
Bibliography
  • Lee Kuan Yew (2000). From Third World To First: The Singapore Story: 1965–2000. New York: HarperCollins.

External links

Government
General information
  • This article incorporates public domain text from the websites of the Singapore Department of Statistics, the United States Department of State, the United States Library of Congress and the CIA World Factbook.




Source en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore