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This article is about the city-state. For other uses, see Singapore
Coordinates: 1.3°N 103.8°E
Republic of Singapore
Republik Singapura (Malay)
??????????? ???????? (Tamil)
Flag Coat of arms
"Majulah Singapura" (Malay)
Anthem: Majulah Singapura
Singapore skyline viewed from Chinatown at sunset.
Singapore skyline viewed from Chinatown at sunset.
Location of Singapore (red)
Location of Singapore (red)
(Downtown Core, Central)a
Roman (Latin) script
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
- President Tony Tan Keng Yam
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
- Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob
- Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon
- Founding 6 February 1819
- Self-government 3 June 1959
- Independence from
the United Kingdom 31 August 1963
- Merger with Malaysia 16 September 1963
- Separation from Malaysia 9 August 1965
- Total 710 km2 (189th)
274 sq mi
- Water (%) 1.444
- 2012 census 5,312,400
- Density 7,315/km2 (3rd)
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
- Total $327.557 billion
- Per capita $61,046
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
- Total $270.020 billion
- Per capita $50,323
Gini (2009) positive decrease 47.8
high · 29th
HDI (2013) Increase 0.895
very high · 19th
Currency Singapore dollar (SGD)
Time zone SST (UTC+8)
Date format dd/mm/yyyy
Drives on the left
Calling code +65
ISO 3166 code SG
Internet TLD .sg, .???????????, .???
a. Singapore is a city-state.
This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you
may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
This article contains Tamil text. Without proper rendering support, you
may see question marks or boxes, misplaced vowels or missing conjuncts instead
of Tamil text.
Singapore Listeni/'s???p?r/, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a
Southeast Asian island city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula,
137 kilometres (85 mi) 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. The country
is highly urbanised with very little primary rainforest remaining, although more
land is being created for development through land reclamation.
Part of various local empires since being inhabited in the second century AD,
Singapore hosted a trading post of the East India Company in 1819 with
permission from the Johor Sultanate. The British obtained sovereignty over the
island in 1824 and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in
1826. Occupied by the Japanese in World War II, Singapore declared independence,
uniting with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963, although
it was separated from Malaysia two years later. Since then, it has had a massive
increase in wealth, and is one of the Four Asian Tigers.
Singapore is the world's fourth-leading financial centre, and its port is one of
the five busiest ports in the world. The economy depends heavily on exports and
refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing, which constituted 26% of
Singapore's GDP in 2005. In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore has the
third-highest per capita income in the world.
Singapore is a unitary multiparty parliamentary republic with a Westminster
system of unicameral parliamentary government. The People's Action Party has won
every election since self-government in 1959. Slightly over five million people
live in Singapore, of which 2.91 million were born locally. The population is
highly diverse; the majority are Chinese with almost 75% of the total
population, while Malays and Indians forming significant minorities. Reflecting
this diversity, the country has four official languages: English, Malay,
Chinese, and Tamil. One of the five founding members of the Association of South
East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the country is also the host of the APEC
Secretariat, and a member of the East Asia Summit, the Non-Aligned Movement, and
2.1.1 1963: Independence from the United Kingdom
2.1.2 19651989: Independence from Malaysia and Lee Kuan Yew as
2.2 19902003: Goh Chok Tong as Prime Minister
2.3 2004Present: Lee Hsien Loong as Prime Minister
3 Government and politics
5.1 Pre-independence economy
5.2 Modern-day economy
5.4 Employment and poverty
6 Foreign relations
9.1 Science and technology
10.1 Languages, religions, and cultures
10.2 Attitudes and beliefs
10.5 Sport and recreation
12 See also
14 External links
Main article: Names of Singapore
The English name of Singapore is derived from the Malay word Singapura
(Sanskrit: ???????, Sinhala: ???????, literally 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, who founded and named ancient Singapore, was most
likely a tiger.
Main article: History of Singapore
A parade of Japanese soldiers in a street of Singapore
Victorious Japanese troops marching through Singapore City after British
capitulation at the Battle of Singapore
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 Johor Sultanate. 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 of Johor 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 with the Sultan and the
Temenggong. In 1826, it became part of the Straits Settlements, under the
jurisdiction of British India. Singapore became the capital of the Straits
Settlements in 1836. Before Raffles arrived, there were around 1,000 people
living in Singapore, mostly indigenous Malay community, and 20-30 Chinese.
By 1860, the population exceeded 80,000, with over half of the population being
Chinese. Many immigrants came to work at rubber plantations; and, after the
1870s, the island became a global centre for rubber exports.
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
During the May 1959 elections, 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
("Head of State"), and was succeeded by Yusof bin Ishak who in 1965 became the
first President of Singapore. During the 1950s Communists, mostly supported
by the Chinese-speaking group, with strong ties to the trade unions and Chinese
schools, carried out an armed struggle against the state, resulting in the
Malayan Emergency and later, the Communist Insurgency War. The 1954 National
Service Riots, Chinese middle schools riots and Hock Lee bus riots in Singapore
were all linked to the Communists.
1963: Independence from the United Kingdom
On 31 August 1963, Singapore declared independence from Britain and joined with
Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form the new Federation of Malaysia as the result
of the 1962 Merger Referendum. Singaporean leaders joined Malaysia for various
reasons. Firstly, as a small country, they did not believe that the British
would find it viable for Singapore to become independent by itself. Secondly,
they also did not believe that Singapore could survive on its own, due to
scarcity of land, water, markets and natural resources. Lastly, the Singapore
government wanted the help of the Malaysian government to flush out the
Communists. However, the two years that Singapore spent as part of Malaysia were
filled with strife and bitter disagreements. The Malaysians insisted on a pro-
Bumiputera (Malay for indigenous) society, where indigenous Malays and tribes
were given special Bumiputera rights, which still exist to this day to assist
the majority Malay community who were left behind in terms of economic share of
the country compared to the minority Chinese and to maintain harmony within a
multiethnic society. The Malaysians were also suspicious about Singapore's
majority of ethnic Chinese and worried that Singapore's economic clout would
shift the centre of power from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. There were also
linguistic and religious issues. The Singaporeans, on the other hand, wanted an
equal and meritocratic society, a Malaysian Malaysia where all citizens were
given equal rights.
As part of Malaysia, Singapore's economic and social development came to a halt
as the Malaysian parliament blocked many bills. Race riots broke out in
Singapore in 1964. After much heated ideological conflicts between the two
governments, in 1965, the Malaysian parliament voted 126 to 0 to expel Singapore
from Malaysia. Race riots broke out once more in 1969.
19651989: Independence from Malaysia and Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister
Singapore gained independence as the Republic of Singapore (remaining within the
Commonwealth) on 9 August 1965 with Yusof bin Ishak as president and Lee Kuan
Yew as Prime Minister. Everyone who was present in Singapore on the date of
independence was offered Singapore citizenship. In 1967, it helped found the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations and in 1970 it joined the Non-Aligned
19902003: Goh Chok Tong as Prime Minister
In 1990, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee as Prime Minister. During his tenure, the
country faced the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the 2003 SARS outbreak and
terrorist threats posed by Jemaah Islamiyah.
2004Present: Lee Hsien Loong as Prime Minister
In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the country's
third prime minister.
Government and politics
Main articles: Government of Singapore, Politics of Singapore, and Human rights
Singapore's Parliament House.
Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral
parliamentary government representing constituencies. Its constitution
establishes representative democracy as its political system. Freedom House
ranks Singapore as "partly free" in its Freedom in the World report, and The
Economist ranks Singapore as a "hybrid regime", the third rank out of four, in
its "Democracy Index". Singapore is consistently rated one of the least
corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International.
Executive power rests with the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, and the
President. 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. Members of
Parliament (MPs) consist of elected, non-constituency and nominated members.
Elected MPs are voted into parliament on a "first-past-the-post" (plurality)
basis and represent either single-member or group-representation constituencies.
 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.
In 2011, in the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index Singapore was ranked
in the top countries surveyed in "Order and Security", "Absence of Corruption",
and "Effective Criminal Justice". However, it scored very low for both "Freedom
of Speech" and "Freedom of Assembly". All public gatherings of five or more
people require police permits, and protests may only be legally held at
Main article: Geography of Singapore
Map showing Singapore's island and the territories belonging Singapore and its
Outline of Singapore and the surrounding islands & waterways
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 JohorSingapore 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 (545 ft).
There are ongoing land reclamation projects, which have increased Singapore's
land area from 581.5 km2 (224.5 sq mi) in the 1960s to 704 km2 (272 sq mi)
today; it may grow by another 100 km2 (40 sq mi) by 2030. Some projects
involve merging smaller islands through land reclamation to form larger, more
functional islands, as with Jurong Island. 5% of Singapore's land is set
aside as nature reserves. Urbanisation has eliminated most primary
rainforest on the main island, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve being the only
significant remaining forest. There are only about 250 acres of farmland
remaining in Singapore.
Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen: Af?) with no distinctive
seasons, uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity, and abundant rainfall.
Temperatures usually range from 22 to 35 °C (72 to 95 °F). Relative humidity
averages around 79% in the morning and 73% in the afternoon. April and May
are the hottest months, with the wetter monsoon season from November to January.
 From July to October, there is often haze caused by bush fires in
neighbouring Indonesia. Although Singapore does not observe daylight saving
time, it follows time zone GMT+8, one hour ahead of its geographical location.
[hide]Climate data for Singapore
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Record high °C (°F) 34.3
Average high °C (°F) 30.1
Average low °C (°F) 23.3
Record low °C (°F) 19.4
Rainfall mm (inches) 243.2
Avg. rainy days 15 11 14 15 15 13 13 14 14 16 19
% humidity 84.7 82.8 83.8 84.8 84.4 83.0 82.8 83.0 83.4 84.1
86.4 86.9 84.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 173.6 183.6 192.2 174.0
179.8 177.0 189.1 179.8 156.0 155.0
129.0 133.3 2,022.4
Percent possible sunshine 47 54 52 48 48 49 51 48 43
42 36 36 46.2
Source #1: National Environment Agency (Temp 1929-1941 and 1948-2011, Rainfall
1869-2011, Humidity 1929-1941 and 1948-2011, Rain days 1891-2011) 
Source #2: Hong Kong Observatory (sun only, 19822008) 
Main article: Economy of Singapore
Before independence in 1965, Singapore was the capital of the British Straits
Settlements, a Crown Colony. It was also the main British naval base in East
Asia. Because of its status as the main British naval base in the region, as
well as hosting the largest dry dock in the world at that time in the form of
the Singapore Naval Base, it was described in the press as the 'Gibraltar of the
East'. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 caused global trade to boom,
and Singapore became a major world trade node, and the Port of Singapore became
one of the largest and busiest ports in the world. Before independence in
1965, Singapore had a GDP per capita of $511, then the third-highest in East
Asia. After independence, foreign direct investment and a state-led drive
for industrialisation based on plans by Goh Keng Swee and Albert Winsemius
created a modern economy.
The port of Singapore with a large number of shipping containers with the
skyline of the city visible in the background
The Port of Singapore, one of the world's five busiest, with the skyline of
Singapore in the background.
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, and
most business-friendly. 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 consistently ranked as one of the
least corrupt countries in the world, along with New Zealand and the
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 large amount of foreign direct investment as a result of its
location, corruption-free environment, skilled workforce, low tax rates and
advanced infrastructure. There are more than 7,000 multinational corporations
from the United States, Japan, and Europe in Singapore. There are also 1,500
companies from China and 1,500 from India. Foreign firms are found in almost all
sectors of the economy. Singapore is also the second largest foreign investor
in India. Roughly 44 percent of the Singaporean workforce is made up of non-
Singaporeans. Over ten free trade agreements have been signed with other
countries and regions.
Singapore also possesses the world's eleventh largest foreign reserves. The
currency of Singapore is the Singapore dollar, issued by the Monetary Authority
of Singapore. It is interchangeable with the Brunei dollar.
Large high-rise buildings at night time
The Singaporean economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods,
especially in manufacturing, which constituted 27.2% of GDP in 2010 and
includes significant electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical
engineering and biomedical sciences sectors. In 2006 Singapore produced about
10% of the world's foundry wafer output. Despite its small size, Singapore
has a diversified economy, a strategy that the government considers vital for
growth and stability.
Tourism also forms a large part of the economy, and 10.2 million tourists
visited the country in 2007. 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 Malaysian students who cross
the JohorSingapore 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. The World Bank has named
Singapore as the easiest place in the world to do business and ranks
Singapore the world's top logistics hub. It is also the world's fourth
largest foreign-exchange trading centre after London, New York and Tokyo.
As a result of global recession and a slump in the technology sector,
Singapore's GDP contracted by 2.2% in 2001. The Economic Review Committee was
set up in December 2001 and recommended several policy changes to revitalise the
economy. Singapore has since recovered, due largely to improvements in the world
economy; the economy grew by 8.3% in 2004, 6.4% in 2005, and 7.9% in 2006.
 After a contraction of 0.8% in 2009, the economy recovered in 2010, with
GDP growth of 14.5%. Most work in Singapore is in the service sector, which
employed 2,151,400 people out of 3,102,500 jobs in December 2010. The percentage
of unemployed economically active people above age 15 is about 2%.
Employment and poverty
Singapore has the world's highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of
every six households having at least one million US dollars in disposable
wealth. This excludes property, businesses, and luxury goods, which if included
would further increase the number of millionaires, especially as property in
Singapore is among the world's most expensive. Despite its relative economic
success, Singapore does not have a minimum wage, believing that it would lower
its competitiveness. It also has one of the highest income inequality levels
among developed countries, coming in just behind Hong Kong and in front of the
Acute poverty is rare in Singapore; the government has rejected the idea of a
generous welfare system, stating that each generation must earn and save enough
for its entire life cycle. There are, however, numerous means-tested 'assistance
schemes' provided by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports in
Singapore for the needy, including some that pay out SGD 400 to SGD 1000 per
month to each needy household, free medical care at government hospitals, money
for children's school fees, rental of studio apartments for SGD 80 a month,
training grants for courses, etc. Also, Singapore is rated top in
terms of net international investment position per capita.
In April 2013, the country was recognised as an increasingly popular tax haven
for the wealthy due to the low tax rate on personal income, a full tax exemption
on income that is generated outside of Singapore and legislation that means that
capital gains are also tax exempt. Australian millionaire retailer Brett Blundy,
with an estimated personal wealth worth AU$835 million dollars, and multi-
billionaire Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin are two examples of wealthy
individuals who have settled in Singapore (Blundy in 2013 and Saverin in 2012).
Main article: Foreign relations of Singapore
Ambassador to the USA Chan Heng Chee, Lee Kuan Yew, and US Secretary of Defense
William Cohen in a room
Then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Ambassador to the U.S. Chan Heng Chee meet
with Secretary of Defense William Cohen during Lee's visit in 2000
Singapore's foreign policy is directed to maintaining a secure environment in
Southeast Asia as well as the surrounding territories. An underlying principle
is political and economic stability in the region. It has diplomatic
relations with 175 other sovereign states. As one of the five founding
members of the 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 by 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. It is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and
In general, bilateral relations with other ASEAN members are strong; however,
disagreements have arisen, and relations with neighbouring Malaysia and
Indonesia have historically sometimes been very strained and difficult.
Malaysia and Singapore have clashed over the delivery of fresh water to
Singapore, access of the Singapore Armed Forces to Malaysian airspace,
the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, and the relocation of Tanjong Pagar railway
station, among others. Border issues exist with both Malaysia
and Indonesia, and both have banned the sale of marine sand to Singapore over
disputes about Singapore's land reclamation. Some previous disputes have
been resolved by the International Court of Justice. Piracy in the Malacca
Strait has been a cause of concern for all three countries. Close economic
ties exist with Brunei, and the two share a pegged currency value.
The first diplomatic contact with China was made in the 1970s, with full
diplomatic relations being established in the 1990s. Since then the two
countries have enjoyed a strong relationship, being major players in
strengthening the ASEANChina relationship. Singapore and the United States
share a long-standing and strong relationship, in particular in defence, the
economy, health and education. The United States was Singapore's third largest
trading partner in 2010, behind the European Union and China. The two
countries have a free-trade agreement, and Singapore views its relationship with
the United States as an important counterbalance to China's influence. A
Strategic Framework Agreement between the two signed in 2005 formalises security
and defence cooperation. 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.
Main article: Singapore Armed Forces
CARAT SINGAPORE 2010, Republic of Singapore Navy's RSS Steadfast and RSS
Vigilance sailing line-abreast.
The Singaporean military is arguably the most technologically advanced in
Southeast Asia. It comprises the Army, Navy, and Air Force. It is seen
as the guarantor of the country's independence. The nation's philosophy of
defence is one of diplomacy and deterrence. 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 and one out of
every four dollars of government spending is spent on defence.
On independence, Singapore had two infantry regiments commanded by British
officers. This force was considered too small to provide effective security to
the new country, so the development of the military became a priority.
Britain pulled its military out of Singapore in October 1971, leaving behind
only a small British, Australian and New Zealand force as a token military
presence. The last British soldier left Singapore in March 1976. New Zealand
troops were the last to leave, in 1989.
A great deal of initial support came from Israel, a country that is not
recognised by neighbouring Islamic Malaysia, Indonesia or Brunei.
The main fear after independence was an invasion by Malaysia. 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 a system of conscription and reserve service based on the
Israeli model. Singapore still maintains strong security ties with Israel
and is one of the biggest buyers of Israeli arms and weapons systems. The
MATADOR is one example of recent Singapore-Israeli collaboration.
The SAF is being developed to respond to a wide range of issues, in both
conventional and unconventional warfare. The Defence Science and Technology
Agency is responsible for procuring resources for the military. The
geographic restrictions of Singapore mean that the SAF must plan to fully
repulse an attack, as they can not fall back and re-group. The small size of the
population has also affected the way the SAF has been designed, with a small
active force but a large number of reserves.
Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-15SG Strike Eagle (Peace Carvin V) training
detachment at Mountain Home Air Force Base.
Singapore has conscription for all able-bodied males at age 18, except those
with a criminal record or who can prove that their loss would bring hardship to
their families. Males who have yet to complete pre-university education or are
awarded the Public Service Commission scholarship can opt to defer their draft.
Though not required to perform military service, the number of women in the SAF
has been increasing: since 1989 they have been allowed to fill military
vocations formerly reserved for men. Before induction into a specific branch of
the armed forces, recruits undergo at least 9 weeks of basic military training.
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. Training is also held in about a dozen other countries. In general,
military exercises are held with foreign forces once or twice per week.
Due to airspace and land constraints, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)
maintains a number of overseas bases in Australia, the United States, and
France. The RSAF's 130 Squadron is based in RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia,
 and its 126 Squadron is based in the Oakey Army Aviation Centre,
Queensland. The RSAF has one squadron the 150 Squadron based in Cazaux
Air Base in southern France. The RSAF also has a few overseas
detachments in the United States, in San Diego, California, Marana, Arizona,
Grand Prairie, Texas and Luke Air Force Base, among others.
The SAF has sent forces to assist in operations outside the country in areas
such as Iraq and Afghanistan, in both military and civilian roles. In
the region, it has helped stabilise East Timor and has provided aid to Aceh in
Indonesia following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. The SAF also
helped in relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina. Singapore is part of the
Five Power Defence Arrangements, a military alliance with Australia, Malaysia,
New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Main article: Demographics of Singapore
High-rise HDB flats and condominiums overlooking Bishan Park
As of 2011, the population of Singapore is 5.18 million people, of whom 3.25
million (63%) are citizens while the rest (37%) are permanent residents or
foreign workers. Twenty-three percent of Singaporean citizens were born outside
Singapore (i.e. foreign born citizens). There are half a million permanent
residents in Singapore in 2011. The resident population does not take into
account the 11 million transient visitors who visit Singapore annually.
Due to scarcity of land, four out of five Singaporeans live in subsidised, high-
rise, public housing apartments known as HDB (for Housing and Development Board)
flats. Singaporeans generally take off their shoes before entering their
homes. Live-in domestic helpers are quite common in Singapore and there are
nearly 200,000 domestic helpers there.
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 Housing and
Development Board (HDB) flats, after the board responsible for public housing in
the country. 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. Home 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 total fertility rate is estimated to be .78 children per woman in 2012, the
lowest in the world and well below the 2.1 needed to replace the population.
To overcome this problem, the Singapore government has been encouraging
foreigners to immigrate to Singapore for the past few decades. The large number
of immigrants has kept Singapore's population from declining. Singapore
traditionally has one of the lowest unemployment rates among developed
countries. The Singaporean unemployment rate has not exceeded 4% in the past
decade, hitting a high of 3% during the 2009 global financial crisis and falling
to 1.9% in 2011.
As of 2009, about 40% of Singapore's residents were foreigners, one of the
highest percentage in the world. The government is considering capping
these workers, although it has been recognised that they are crucial to the
country's economy, as foreign workers make up 80% of the construction
industry and up to 50% of 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 register as a member of only
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
onward, 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.
Main article: Religion in Singapore
Religion in Singapore
Buddhism is the most widely practised religion in Singapore, with 33% of the
resident population declaring themselves adherents at the most recent census.
The next-most practised religion is Christianity, followed by Islam, Taoism, and
Hinduism. 17% of the population did not have a religious affiliation. The
proportion of Christians, Taoists, and non-religious people increased between
2000 and 2010 by about 3% each, whilst the proportion of Buddhists decreased.
Other faiths remained largely stable in their share of the population.
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 coming
into the country from Taiwan and China for several decades. However, Thailand's
Theravada Buddhism has seen growing popularity among 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 mostly by those of
Chinese descent. Tibetan Buddhism has also made slow inroads into the country in
Main article: Languages of Singapore
Native languages ("mother tongues") of Singaporeans
Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese (or
Standard Chinese to be more precise), and Tamil. English is the common
language of the nation and is the language of business, government, and the
medium of instruction in schools. Public bodies in Singapore conduct
their businesses in English, and official documents written in a non-English
official language such as Chinese, Malay or Tamil typically have to be
translated into English to be accepted for submission. The Singapore
Constitution and all laws are written in English, and translators are
required if one wishes to address the Singaporean Courts in a language other
than English. However, English is the native tongue for only one-third
of all Singaporeans, with roughly a third of all Singaporean Chinese, a quarter
of all Singaporean Malays and half of all Singaporean Indians speaking it as
their native tongue. Twenty percent of Singaporeans, or one out of every five,
cannot read or write in English.
Many, but not all, Singaporeans are bilingual in English and another official
language, with vastly varying degrees of fluency. The official languages ranked
in terms of literacy amongst Singaporeans are English (80% literacy), Mandarin
Chinese (65% literacy), Malay (17% literacy), and Tamil (4% literacy).
Singaporean English is based on British English, and forms of English
spoken range from Standard English to a pidgin known as "Singlish". Singlish is
heavily discouraged by the government.
Chinese is the language that is spoken as the native tongue by the greatest
number of Singaporeans, half of them. 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 was chosen as the "national language" by the Singaporean government after
independence from Britain in the 1960s to avoid friction with Singapore's
neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia which are Malay-speaking. It has a
symbolic rather than functional purpose. It is used in the
national anthem "Majulah Singapura", in citations of Singaporean orders and
decorations, and in military commands. Today, in general, Malay is spoken within
the Singaporean Malay community, with only 16.8% of all Singaporeans literate in
Malay and only 12% using it as their native language.
Around 100,000, or 3%, of Singaporeans speak Tamil as their native language.
 Even though only Tamil has official status, there have been no attempts to
discourage the use or spread of other Indian languages.
Science and technology
The Internet in Singapore is provided by ISPs that offer residential service
plans of speeds up to 1 Gbit/s. In Singapore, the rise of Gigabit Networks
increased exports and created 80,000 jobs in 2006.
Telecommunications in Singapore include 4G mobile phone services for over 6
Main article: Education in Singapore
The Lee Kong Chian School of Business of the Singapore Management University,
one of five public universities in Singapore
Education for primary, secondary, and tertiary levels is mostly supported by the
state. All institutions, private and public, must be registered with the
Ministry of Education. English is the language of instruction in all public
schools, and all subjects are taught and examined in English except for the
"Mother Tongue" language paper. While the term "Mother Tongue" in general
refers to the first language internationally, in Singapore's education system,
it is used to refer to the second language, as English is the first language.
 Students who have been abroad for a while or who struggle with their
"Mother Tongue" language are allowed to take a simpler syllabus or drop the
Education takes place in three stages: primary, secondary, and pre-university
education. Only the primary level is compulsory. Students begin with six years
of primary school, which is made up of a four-year foundation course and a two-
year orientation stage. The curriculum is focused on the development of English,
the mother tongue, and maths. 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 in 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.
Educational attainment of non-student Singaporeans above 15 years old in
Highest qualification Percentage
National examinations are standardised across all schools, with a test taken
after each stage. After the first six years of education, students take the
Primary School Leaving Examination, which determines their placement at
secondary school. At the end of the secondary stage, GCE "O"-Level exams are
taken; at the end of the following pre-university stage, the GCE "A"-Level exams
are taken. Of all non-student Singaporeans aged 15 and above, 18% have no
education qualifications at all while 45% have the Primary School Leaving
Examination as their highest qualification. 15% have the GCE 'O' Level as their
highest qualification and 14% have a degree.
Singaporean students consistently rank in the top five in the world in the two
major international assessments of mathematics and science knowledge.
Singaporean students were ranked first in the 2011 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 among the top 50 in the world.
Main article: Healthcare in Singapore
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. In general, Singapore has the lowest infant
mortality rate in the world for the past two decades. Life expectancy in
Singapore is 80 for males and 85 for females, placing the country 4th in the
world for life expectancy. Almost the whole population has access to improved
water and sanitation facilities. There are fewer than 10 annual deaths from HIV
per 100,000 people. There is a high level of immunisation. Adult obesity is
The government's healthcare system is based upon the "3M" framework. This has
three components: Medifund, which provides a safety net for those not able to
otherwise afford healthcare, Medisave, a compulsory health savings scheme
covering about 85% of the population, and Medishield, a government-funded health
insurance scheme. Public hospitals in Singapore have autonomy in their
management decisions, and compete for patients. A subsidy scheme exists for
those on low income. In 2008, 31.9% of healthcare was funded by the
government. It accounts for approximately 3.5% of Singapore's GDP.
Main article: Culture of Singapore
The country has strict laws against drug use and has one of the lowest rates of
drug use in the world.
Foreigners also make up 42% of the population and have a strong
influence on Singaporean culture. A.T. Kearney named Singapore the most
globalised country in the world in 2006 in its Globalization Index. The
Economist Intelligence Unit in its "Quality-of-Life Index" ranks Singapore as
having the best quality of life in Asia and eleventh overall in the world.
Languages, religions, and cultures
Singapore is a very diverse and young country. It has many languages, religions,
and cultures for a country its size. Due to the many 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 Malaysia, China
and India. Many of them were transient labourers who were seeking to make some
money in Singapore and they had no intention 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 (descendants of late 15th and
16th-century Chinese immigrants) who pledged their loyalties to Singapore, most
of the labourers' loyalties lay with their respective homelands of Malaysia,
China and India. After independence, the process of crafting a
Singaporean identity and culture began.
Former Prime Ministers of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew 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.
 Even though English is the first language of the nation, according to the
government's 2010 census 20% of Singaporeans, or one in five, are illiterate in
English. This is a marked improvement from 1990 where 40% of Singaporeans were
illiterate in English.
Unlike many other countries, languages, religions and cultures among
Singaporeans are not delineated according to skin colour or ancestry. Among
Chinese Singaporeans, one in five is Christian, another one in five is atheist,
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.
Singaporean Indians are much more religious. Only 1% of them are atheists. Six
in ten are Hindus, two in ten Muslims, and the rest mostly Christians. Four in
ten speak English as their home language, three in ten Tamil, one in ten Malay,
and the rest other Indian languages as their home language.
Each Singaporean's behaviours and attitudes would therefore be influenced by,
among many other things, his or her home language and his religion. Singaporeans
who speak English as their native language tend to lean toward Western culture.
While those who speak Chinese languages as their native language tend to lean
toward Chinese culture and Confucianism. Malay-speaking Singaporeans tend to
lean toward Malay culture, which itself is closely linked to Islamic culture.
Those who speak Indian languages as their native language would probably lean
toward Indian culture.
Attitudes and beliefs
Singapore, as a country, in general is conservative socially, but some
liberalisation has occurred. At the national level, meritocracy, where one
is judged based on one's ability, is heavily emphasised.
Racial and religious harmony is regarded by the government as a crucial part of
Singapore's success and played a part in building a Singaporean identity.
Singapore has a reputation as a nanny state. The national flower of
Singapore is the Vanda Miss Joaquim. Many national symbols such as the National
Coat of Arms and the Lion Head symbol make use of the lion, as Singapore is
known as the 'Lion City'. Public holidays in Singapore cover major Chinese,
Western, Malay and Indian festivals.
Singaporean employees work an average of around 45 hours weekly, relatively long
compared to many other nations. Three in four Singaporean employees surveyed
stated that they take pride in doing their work well, and that doing so helps
Main article: Singaporean cuisine
Dining, along with shopping, is said to be the country's national pastime.
The focus on food has led countries like Australia to attract Singaporean
tourists with food-based itineraries. The diversity of food is touted as a
reason to visit the country, 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,
Malay, and Indian food clearly defined. However, 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).
Domed black building with bumps reminiscent of those on a Durian
The durian-shaped Esplanade, performing arts centre, stands out in front of the
Marina Square area.
Since the 1990s, the government has been promoting Singapore as a centre for
arts and culture, in particular the performing arts, and to transform the
country into a cosmopolitan "gateway between the East and West". One
highlight was the construction of Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, a performing
arts centre opened in October 2002. The national orchestra, Singapore
Symphony Orchestra, plays at the Esplanade. The annual Singapore Arts Festival
is organised by the National Arts Council. The stand-up comedy scene has been
growing, with a weekly open mic. Singapore hosted the 2009 Genee
International Ballet Competition, a classical ballet competition promoted by
London's Royal Academy of Dance.
Sport and recreation
Main article: Sport in Singapore
Closing ceremony for the National Stadium
National Stadium of Singapore
Popular sports include football, basketball, cricket, swimming, sailing, table
tennis and badminton. Most Singaporeans live in public residential areas near
amenities such as public swimming pools, outdoor basketball courts and indoor
sport complexes. Water sports are popular, including sailing, kayaking and water
skiing. Scuba diving is another popular recreational sport. The Southern island
of Pulau Hantu, particularly, is known for its rich coral reefs.
Singapore's football (soccer) league, the S-League, formed in 1994,
currently comprises 12 clubs including foreign teams. The Singapore
Slingers, formerly in the Australian National Basketball League, is one of the
inaugural teams in the ASEAN Basketball League, founded in October 2009.
Singapore began hosting a round of the Formula One World Championship, the
Singapore Grand Prix, in 2008. The race takes place on the Marina Bay Street
Circuit and was the inaugural F1 night race and the first street circuit in
Asia. The Singapore Grand Prix will remain on the F1 calendar through at
least 2017, after race organizers signed a contract extension with Formula One
Management on the eve of the 2012 event.
Singapore also hosted the inaugural 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.
Main article: Media of Singapore
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. In
2010, Reporters Without Borders, a France-based international non-governmental
organisation, ranked Singapore 136 out of 178 in its Press Freedom Index, just
The Media Development Authority regulates Singaporean media, claiming to balance
the demand for choice and protection against offensive and harmful material.
 Private ownership of TV satellite dishes is banned. Television is
censored, and shows like Sex and the City and Queer as Folk (UK TV series) are
banned. There are 3.4 million users of the internet in Singapore, one of
the highest internet penetration rates in the world. The Singapore government
does not engage in widespread censoring of the internet, but it maintains a
list of one hundred websites (mostly pornographic) that it blocks as a 'symbolic
statement of the Singaporean community's stand on harmful and undesirable
content on the Internet'. As the block covers only home internet access,
users may still visit the blocked websites from their office computers.
Main article: Transport in Singapore
The Port with a large number of shipping containers and the ocean visible in the
The Port of Singapore with Sentosa island in the background
Since Singapore is a small island with a high population density, the number of
private cars on the road is restricted so as to curb pollution and congestion.
Car buyers must pay for duties one-and-a-half times the vehicle's market value
and bid for a Singaporean Certificate of Entitlement (COE), which allows the car
to run on the road for a decade. The cost of the Singaporean certificate of
entitlement alone would buy a Porsche Boxster in the United States. Car prices
are generally significantly higher in Singapore than in other English-speaking
countries and thus only one in 10 residents owns a car. As with most
Commonwealth countries, vehicles on the road and people walking on the streets
keep to the left.
Electronic Road Pricing gantry at North Bridge Road
Most Singaporean residents travel by foot, bicycles, bus, taxis and train (MRT
or Light Rail Transit). Two companies run the public bus and train transport
system SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation. There are almost a dozen taxi
companies, 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 3,356 kilometres (2,085 mi), which includes
161 kilometres (100 mi) of expressways. 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. Upgraded in 1998
and renamed Electronic Road Pricing, the system introduced electronic toll
collection, electronic detection, and video surveillance technology.
Singapore is a major international transport 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, behind Shanghai, in terms of cargo tonnage
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 Southeast Asia and a stopover on the Kangaroo
Route between Sydney and London. There are eight airports in the country,
 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.