Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Singapore
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Singapore

The Republic of Singapore (Chinese 新加坡共和国, Xīnjīapō Gònghéguó; Malay Republik Singapura; Tamil சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு, Cingkappūr Kudiyarasu), is an island city-state in Southeast Asia, at latitude 1°17'35"N longitude 103°51'20"E, situated on the southern tip of Malay Peninsula, south of the state of Johor of Peninsular Malaysia and north of the Indonesian islands of Riau.

新加坡共和国
Republik Singapura
சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு
Republic of Singapore

(In Detail)
National motto: Majulah Singapura
(Malay: Onward, Singapore)
Official languagesEnglish, Chinese (Mandarin), Malay and Tamil
National languageMalay
CapitalSingapore
PresidentS. R. Nathan
Prime MinisterGoh Chok Tong
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 174th
692.7 km²
1.444%
Population
 - Total (July 2003 est.)
 - Density
Ranked 115th
4,608,595
6751/km²
GDP
 - Total (2002)
 - GDP/head

$112.4 billion
$25,200
Independence
 - Date
From Malaysia
August 9, 1965
CurrencySingapore Dollar (S$, SGD)
Time zoneUTC +8
National anthemMajulah Singapura
Internet TLD.SG
Calling code65 (Also 02 when dialling from Malaysia)

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Economy
4 Science
5 Geography
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Laws
9 Trivia
10 Miscellaneous topics
11 Reference
12 External links

History

Main article: History of Singapore

Singapore's history dates at least as far back as the 14th century. At that time, it emerged as Temasek, a port and fortified city of some importance. It was part of the Sri Vijaya Empire based in Sumatra, which was undergoing a protracted period of decline. While the written historical records of the Malays (the 'Sejarah Melayu', or Malay Annals) tend to exaggerate claims of the city's greatness, recent archaeological evidence does point to an urban settlement and trading centre of some importance. Following the decline of Sri Vijayan power, Temasek was claimed by rival emerging regional powers such as the Majapahit Empire in Java and the Ayuthia Kingdom in Thailand. The city's fortifications allowed it to withstand at least one attempted Thai invasion. Around this time, at start of the 15th century, Temasek was also renamed 'Singapura', which means 'Lion City' in Sanskrit. The modern city of Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles as a British trading settlement. For most parts of the 19th and 20th century, Singapore was a British colony, part of the Straits Settlements together with Penang and Malacca. The British surrendered Singapore to Japan in 1942 during World War II, and it was returned to British administration in 1945. Self-government was granted by the British in 1959. In 1963, Singapore joined Malaysia but separated from it in 1965 and was re-instituted as an independent republic. It has subsequently become one of the world's most prosperous countries, with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world's busiest) and with per capita GDP above that of the leading nations of Western Europe. During the early years, it was led by prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, whose policies were responsible for Singapore's prosperity and development.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Singapore

Singapore has a Westminster-style constitution. There is an elected figurehead president, with true executive power resting with the prime minister who leads the majority party in the elected parliament.

In practice, politics is dominated by the People's Action Party which has ruled since Independence. Over the years the PAP has instituted several harsh laws that discourage and impede the creation and success of effective opposition parties. The mode of government is perhaps closer to authoritarianism than true democracy. Paradoxically (for political scientists), Singapore has a highly successful, corruption-free, and transparent market economy. Singapore is officially known as a "Socialist Democracy".

Economy

Main article: Economy of Singapore

Singapore enjoys a highly developed and successful free-market economy, characterised by a remarkably open and corruption-free environment, stable prices, and one of the highest per capita GDPss in the world. The economy depends heavily on exports, particularly in electronics and manufacturing, and was hard hit in 2001 by the global recession and the slump in the technology sector. In 2001, GDP contracted by 2.2%. The economy is expected to recover in 2002 in response to improvements in the US economy, and GDP growth for 2002 is projected to be 3% to 4%. In the longer term the government hopes to establish a new growth path that will be less vulnerable to the external business cycle than the current export-led model, but is unlikely to abandon efforts to establish Singapore as Southeast Asia's financial and high-tech hub.

The GDP per capital income in 2003 - US$23,700 (est.) with an unemployment rate hovering around 5% in the same year.

The Economic Review Committee (ERC), set up in December 2001, made key recommendations to remake Singapore into:

Science

Centralised control of the economy allows Singapore to easily pursue ambitious research programs. In early 2000s Singapore invested several billion dollars into research in therapeutic cloning, drug discovery, cancer research, and other areas of bioscience (including those too controversial or just not fundable in other countries), inviting top-notch Western and Japanese scientists.

Geography

Main article: Geography of Singapore

Singapore's main territory is a diamond-shaped piece of island, if it was not connected to the city of Johor Bahru in the state of Johor (Malaysia) by a man-made causeway to the north. This causeway is set to be replaced through the construction of a new bridge to Johor Bahru. There is also a second link in the form of a bridge to Johor to the west in the Tuas area. Singapore also has dozens of smaller islands, of which Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest. Since Singapore basically consists of only one city, there are no further administrative divisions.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Singapore

Apart from the much smaller Monaco, Singapore is the most densely populated independent country in the world. 85% of the population live in public housing provided by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). Source: Dept of Statistics

Singapore's population is diverse. Chinese account for 76.8% of the population, Malayss 13.9% who were the indigenous or native group of the country. Indianss are the third largest ethnic group at 7.9%. Source: Singapore Department of Statistics Census 2000.

The official languages are English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Malay is also Singapore's national language but this is largely symbolic, being the language of the national anthem. The ruling PAP (People's Action Party) has preferred to promote English as the country's lingua franca, with Malay being confined largely to its native speakers, with relatively few of the majority Chinese and Indian Singaporeans speaking it.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Singapore

Singapore is a small and relatively modern amalgam of Chinese, Malay and Indian migrants. There appears little in the way of specifically Singaporean culture, as there is little intermarriage, although there is a community of Peranakan or 'Straits Chinese', of mixed Chinese and Malay descent. The major public holidays reflect this diversity, including Chinese New Year, Buddhist Vesak Day, Muslim Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha (known locally by its Malay names Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji respectively), Hindu Diwali (known locally by its original name Deepavali). While Christians are a minority, Christmas Day, Good Friday, and New Year's Day are also public holidays.

Laws

Laws are often strict (there is a saying "Singapore is a 'fine' country", where the "fine" is of the monetary kind):

In 2003, the Censorship Review Committee recommended that the ban on Cosmopolitan Magazine be lifted but that the one on Playboy be continued because the Singaporean community is not ready for Playboy's liberal use of sexually explicit photographs.

In recent years, the Singaporean government relaxed some of the stricter laws. For example, bungy jumping is no longer illegal. Film censorship has also been relaxed. There are also signs that the government is considering relaxing a number of laws concerning sex (partly to improve the demographic situation).

It is of note that while some strict (and to the point of being ludicrous) laws exist in theory, the government (usually) does not deliberately enforce these laws. For instance, while possession of pornography is illegal, no known checks have been made. Neither has the government tried to enforce a rule stating that oral sex be performed only as a precursor to sexual intercourse.

An American teenager, Michael Fay, aroused passionate media interest from the United States after he was caught vandalising Singaporean cars in 1994. There was a formal request by the American government not to carry out the sentence, which was caning. (Caning is also still allowed in Singapore schools, but only by the principal and/or the discipline master, and only for very serious offences, such as smoking. Furthermore, the canes used in schools are much less thick than those used on criminals, which can cause wounds with only one stroke.) Senior Minister Lee Kwan Yew called American practices "soft" and denied the appeal. Fay was caned and interest in the incident has fallen since.

Capital punishment

The Singapore government has released figures giving a breakdown of the numbers of executions that have taken place over the past five years. Executions by hanging occur every Friday morning in Changi prison; relatives are informed of the date of the execution four days before it is scheduled to take place, seven to fourteen days beforehand in the case of foreigners as is detailed in the Singapore government's response to Amnesty International on the subject.

Trivia

Miscellaneous topics

Reference

External links


[ Edit {}] Countries in Southeast Asia
Brunei | Cambodia | East Timor | Indonesia | Laos | Malaysia | Myanmar | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | Vietnam