Singapore

Republic of Singapore

President: Tony Tan Keng Yam (2011)

Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong (2004)

Land area: 241 sq mi (624 sq km); total area: 267 sq mi (692.7 sq km)

Population (2012 est.): 5,353,494 (growth rate: 1.993%); birth rate: 7.72/1000; infant mortality rate: 2.65/1000; life expectancy: 83.75

Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Singapore, 5,183,700.

Monetary unit: Singapore dollar

Current government officials

Languages: Mandarin 35%, English 23%, Malay 14.1%, Hokkien 11.4%, Cantonese 5.7%, Teochew 4.9%, Tamil 3.2%, other Chinese dialects 1.8%, other 0.9% (2000)

Ethnicity/race: Chinese 76.8%, Malay 13.9%, Indian 7.9%, other 1.4% (2000)

Religions: Buddhist 43%, Islam 15%, Taoist 9%, Hindu 4%, Catholic 5%, other Christian 10%, none 15% (2000)

Literacy rate: 93% (2003 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2011 est.): $318.9 billion; per capita $60,500. Real growth rate: 4.9%. Inflation: 5.2%. Unemployment: 2% (2011). Arable land: 1.47%. Agriculture: rubber, copra, fruit, orchids, vegetables; poultry, eggs; fish, ornamental fish. Labor force: 3.075 million (2010 est.); agriculture .1%; industry 30.2%; services 69.7 (2010). Industries: electronics, chemicals, financial services, oil drilling equipment, petroleum refining, rubber processing and rubber products, processed food and beverages, ship repair, offshore platform construction, life sciences, entrepôt trade. Natural resources: fish, deepwater ports. Exports: $414.8 billion (2011 est.): machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs. Imports: $366.3 billion (2011 est.): machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs. Major trading partners: U.S., Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan (2010).

Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 1.984 million (2010); mobile cellular: 7.307 million (2010). Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 18 (2008). Television broadcast stations: 8 (2008). Televisions: 1.33 million (1997). Internet Hosts: 1.932 million (2010). Internet users: 3.235 million (2009).

Transportation: Railways: total: 38.6 km. Highways: total: 3,356 km; paved: 3,356 km (including 161 km of expressways). Ports and harbors: Singapore. Airports: 9 (2012).

International disputes: disputes persist with Malaysia over deliveries of fresh water to Singapore, Singapore's extensive land reclamation works, bridge construction, and maritime boundaries in the Johor and Singapore Straits; in 2008, ICJ awards sovereignty of Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh/Horsburgh Island) to Singapore, and Middle Rocks to Malaysia, but does not rule on maritime regimes, boundaries, or disposition of South Ledge; Indonesia and Singapore continue to work on finalization of their 1973 maritime boundary agreement by defining unresolved areas north of Indonesia's Batam Island; piracy remains a problem in the Malacca Strait.

Major sources and definitions

Flag of Singapore

Geography

The Republic of Singapore consists of the main island of Singapore, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and 58 nearby islands.

Government

Parliamentary republic.

History

Inhabitants of the Malaysian peninsula and the island of Singapore first migrated to the area between 2500 and 1500 B.C. (see Malaysia). British and Dutch interest in the region grew with the spice trade, and the trading post of Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles. It was made a separate Crown colony of Britain in 1946, when the former colony of the Straits Settlements was dissolved. The other two settlements on the peninsula—Penang and Malacca—became part of the Union of Malaya, and the small island of Labuan was transferred to North Borneo. The Cocos (or Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island were transferred to Australia in 1955 and in 1958, respectively.

Singapore attained full internal self-government in 1959, and Lee Kwan Yew, an economic visionary with an authoritarian streak, took the helm as prime minister. On Sept. 16, 1963, Singapore joined Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia. It withdrew from the federation on Aug. 9, 1965, and a month later proclaimed itself a republic.

Under Lee, Singapore developed into one of the cleanest, safest, and most economically prosperous cities in Asia. However, Singapore's strict rules of civil obedience also drew criticism from those who said the nation's prosperity was achieved at the expense of individual freedoms.

S. R. Nathan was declared president without an election when he was certified as the only candidate eligible to run in 1999 elections. In Aug. 2004, Lee Hsien Loong became the country's third prime minister since Singapore gained independence from Britain in 1965. Lee faced his first electoral challenge in May 2006. His People's Action Party (PAP) won 82 out of 84 seats in parliamentary elections.

In Singapore's May 2011 general election, the ruling People's Action Party was reelected with a majority of 81 to 6, which was the equivalent of 60% of the vote. This percentage was viewed as promising by the opposition, as it was significantly less than in the two previous elections. After the elections, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong uncharacteristically acknowledged mistakes and pledged a more efficient government in the future.

Following on the heels of the general election, August's presidential election saw a field of four candidates from which the ruling party's Tony Tan emerged victorious. Though favored to win, Tan's triumph was not exactly a landslide--the 7,000 vote margin was the equivalent of 35.2% of the vote.

See also Encyclopedia: Singapore
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Singapore.
Department of Statistics www.singstat.gov.sg/ .


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