Quick Facts and Introduction to Singapore
Singapore is a small island nation at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula, consisting of Singapore island and a handful of smaller islands. Singapore was a British Crown Colony and achieved full independence in 1965. Singapore has a reputation for strict laws, cleanliness and efficiency that contrast with a resident population of over 4.8 million people of 10 official religions and 4 official languages.
This page is intended to summarise key facts about Singapore and where possible references and links are provided for further study. While every effort is made to ensure that the information presented is accurate and current, there may be errors and ommissions. Please let us know if you feel that corrections are required.
Key Figures and Dates
Population Size: 4.85 million
Area: 647 sq Km
Ethnic proportions: Chinese (77%), Malay (14%), Indian (8%), Others (1%)
Religion proportions: Taoist (31%), Buddhist (18%), Muslim (18%), Christian (10%), Hindu (4%)
GDP: US$155, 726.6
Key Industries: Commerce, Financial Services, Manufacturing (Electronics, Chemicals), Tourism
Earliest references to Singapore date back to the 1300s where Chinese historians refer Singapore as "Pu Luo Chung". Another name for Singapore was "Temasek" and this name originates from Javanese records from the 1300s. The name "Singapura" is a Sanskrit name that refers to "Lion City" and become commonly used in the 14th Century.
Singapore was in the middle of a tug-of-war between many nations. Before the discovery of Singapore by the British, the tussle was between the Majapahit Empire in Java and Siam (now known as Thailand). In 1800s, Sir Stamford Raffles of the East India Company was tasked to acquire a new port to extend the reach of the merchant fleet of spice traders. Raffles founded Singapore in 1819 with a trading port where a formal treaty was signed with the Sultan of Johor and the Temenggong.
The tussle over control continued with the Dutch and British and concluded in 1824 with the signing of the Anglo-Dutch treaty leading to the creation of the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. The Straits Settlements became a Crown Colony in 1867. Trade gave rise to an immigrant population of various ethnic groups; in particular, Chinese and Indians.
In the Second World War, Singapore was occupied by the Japanese forces and was renamed Syonan (Light of the South). The occupation ended in 1945 with the Japanese surrender and Singapore came under the British Military Administration.
The years between 1945 and 1965 were difficult for Singapore as its local population seeked stronger local representation in governance. This path towards nationhood was greeted by riots, union disputes, political idealogy differences and racial disharmony.
In 1963, Malaysia was formed, consisting of the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo. This merger was short-lived and Singapore became a sovereign, democratic and independent nation on 9 Aug 1965.
The Government of Singapore consist of Members of Parliament (elected, non-constituencies and nominated MPs), a Cabinet of key profile ministers, Prime Minister and an elected President. This structure is based on the Westminster Model.
General Elections are held every 4 years while Presidential Elections is held every 6 years. The People's Action Party has held to a majority of seats in Parliament since independence.
For more details, please refer to the Singapore Government Online Portal
Laws, Crime and Security
The Singapore Legal System is based on the English Common Law where all
Singapore Citizens are equal before the law regardless of race, religion
Key National Associations
People & Culture
In the year 2000 Census, it was estimated that 25% of people living in Singapore are not Singaporean citizens. A large majority of these foreigners work in Singapore on either an Employment Pass or a Work Permit Visa.
Singapore can be considered as a country of immigrants where the majority of the population can trace their roots to China, India and etc. The indigenous people of Singapore are the Malays. To maintain racial harmony means protecting its cultural heritage and religious beliefs.
In Singapore, there are two prominent hybrid cultures- the Peranakans and the Eurasians. The Peranakans are descendents of early Chinese settlers to the region; many of whom married local women or adopted certain local customs and practices into their own. The Eurasians are descendents of inter-racial marriages of Asians to Europeans. These communities have a strong identity and the expression of their cultures can be seen in the customs, language, architecture and often food.
Respect for one's culture translates into several forms in Singapore; they
Official Languages: English, Mandrian, Tamil and Malay
Peranakan Association of Singapore
Eurasian Association of Singapore
The racial and cultural mix in Singapore has resulted in an unique urban landscape. In the haste of progress and industrialisation in the 1960s and 1970s, many old buildings were removed to make way for modern buildings. It is only in the 1970s, that conservation of this built heritage is conducted actively.
To date, there are over 50 conservation areas. Primarily led by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the conservation does not consist just of protection of old buildings but also to design and plan for creative and modern usage of these buildings.
The urban landscape of Singapore does not include just skyscrapers but also high rise residential buildings to accommodate over 75% of the population. A large proportion of Singaporeans live in purpose-built estates known as HDB Estates. Built by the Housing Development Board of Singapore (HDB), it resolved effectively the problems of land scarcity and affordable housing for millions of Singaporeans. The communities within these HDB Estates revolves their daily lives about these concrete structure and a conscious effort is made to integrate the old kampung (village) style of community spirit within modern structures.
Singapore is sometimes known as the Garden City due to continued efforts to protect the native floral and fauna assets. In many situations a compromise is made to balance human needs and modernisation to that of nature conservation.
However, in such a small land mass, several natural features are retained and indeed cherished and protected. This nature conservation is not simply led by the Government of Singapore but in several cases initiated and promoted at a grassroots level.
The most sacared of commodities in Singapore is water and many reservoirs are either created or adapted from natural features. The use of reservoirs is not just a utilitarian one include creative adaption for recreation and entertainment. Recent developments include the design and planning for a Central Park district similar to the Central Park in New York City.
Climate and Weather
Singapore is just north of the equator and weather all year around is usually above 23 degrees celcius. There is abundant rainfall and humidity levels is high. Although there are no defined seasons in Singapore, there are dry and wet seasons. The Wet Season is between November to January while there are occasional rainfall throughout the year.
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