Republic of Singapore
Temasek  (Malay)
新加坡共和国 (Chinese)
சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு (Tamil)
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: 
"Majulah Singapura" (Malay)
"Onward, Singapore"
Anthem: Majulah Singapura
Onward, Singapore
Location of  Singapore  (red)
Location of  Singapore  (red)
Capital Singapore
(Downtown Core, Central)
Official languages
Official scripts
Demonym Singaporean
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
 -  President Tony Tan Keng Yam
 -  Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
 -  Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob
 -  Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon
Legislature Parliament
Formation
 -  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 
Area
 -  Total 716.1 km2 (190th)
276 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 1.444
Population
 -  2013 estimate 5,399,200 (116th)
 -  Density 7,540/km2 (3rd)
19,562/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $327.557 billion
 -  Per capita $61,046 (3rd)
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $270.020 billion
 -  Per capita $50,323
Gini (2012) 47.8
high · 26th
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, .சிங்கப்பூர், .新加坡

The Republic of Singapore or Temasek is an island country and city-state at the southern end of the Malay peninsula in Asia. Singapore is north of the equator. Its neighbours are Malaysia and Indonesia. About 5.40 million people live in Singapore, of which 3.31 million are citizens, and many of them (76%) are Chinese. In Sanskrit, an old Indian language, "Singapura", from which Singapore got its name, means "Lion City" commonly ruled by Sultans.

Singapore is also commonly known as a "Garden City" or a "City in a Garden" because there are trees planted everywhere, making it look like a garden.

The national language of Singapore is Malay and the other official languages of Singapore are English, Mandarin and Tamil. English is the language of choice because it is the language that almost everyone in Singapore knows. It is the first language taught in schools and the language used by the government. Students are also taught their mother tongue language. This means that the Chinese will learn Mandarin and the Malays will learn Malay, and so on. Students can also choose to learn a third language in secondary school.

Singapore is also known for Singlish, or Singaporean English, which is English mixed with some words from Malay and other local languages. The government runs a campaign, the Speak Good English Movement, against Singlish as it makes Singaporeans look less educated and intelligent than they are.

History

Picture of Sir Stamford Raffles

Before 1819

Singapore's name comes from 'Singa Pura' which means Lion City in Sanskrit. According to the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals), a Sumatran prince called Sang Nila Utama landed on Temasek (Singapore's old name) and saw a Lion which is called 'Singa' in Malay. Thus he gave the island a new name, 'Singapura'. However, Sang Nila Utama was likely mistaken, as lions never existed in Singapore. It is believed that the "lion" was actually a Malayan Tiger, which exists in neighbouring Malaysia, and is extinct in Singapore. There were also many pieces of old items that showed that Temasek was a trading port even before the British came in and took over the island.

1819 to 1940

Singapore was set up as a British trading town in 1819 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, and became an important town in the Malay Archipelago, "Singapore". The country was given colony rank in 1867.

When Raffles landed in Singapore, he paid the then Sultan a sum of money for a piece of land in the South of Singapore. In August 1824, Dr. John Crawfurd signed a treaty with the Sultan for control over the whole tropical island.

World War II

JapaneseMarchSgpCity
The Japanese marching in Singapore during the World War II period

In 1941, due to the weak defenses of the country, the Japanese attacked Singapore and took control of the colony on 15 February 1942. The country was renamed to Syonan-to (pronounced as Sho-nan-to), meaning Light of the South, during the rule. The British decided to surrender to the Japanese on 15 February 1942 at the Ford Motor Factory. People of Singapore went through hard times during the Japanese rule, until the surrender of the Japanese in September 1945. This was called the Japanese occupation. Singapore was then returned back to the British.

Many people were tortured or killed by the Japanese as they did not follow the rules properly or because they were suspected of going against the Japanese.

The hard times during World War II made the people think that the British were not as strong as before. Therefore, many people wanted independence.

Independence

In 1963 Singapore joined with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form the new nation of Malaysia. Malaysia is a country with many races. In Malay, only the Malays have special benefits. For example, the Malays can get university education more easily than other races.

As most people in Singapore are Chinese, Singapore wanted equality for all the people of Malaysia. Singapore also wanted a common market to be set up so that goods to Malaysia would not be taxed. However, this was not done and caused arguments between the state government of Singapore and the federal government of Malaysia.

Singapore separated from Malaysia and became independent on its own on 9 August 1965.

After Independence

After Independence, the president of Singapore was Yusof bin Ishak and its prime minister was Lee Kuan Yew. At first, many people thought Singapore would not be able to continue on its own. In 1967 Singapore helped to start the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and in 1970 it joined the Non-Aligned Movement. Lee Kuan Yew was in charge of the country as Prime Minister of Singapore and saw it become very developed. In 1990, Goh Chok Tong replaced Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister, while Lee Kuan Yew became Senior Minister. When Goh Chok Tong was Prime Minister, Singapore went through the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the 2003 SARS outbreak and terrorist threats by Jemaah Islamiyah. In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Lee Kuan Yew, took over as Prime Minister. Goh Chok Tong became the Senior Minister, and Lee Kuan Yew became the Minister Mentor of Singapore.

Government and politics

Parliament House Singapore
Singapore's Parliament House.

Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government representing constituencies. Its constitution states 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 ranked regularly as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International.

The Cabinet has executive power, and is led by the Prime Minister, and the President. The president is elected through popular vote, and has some veto powers for a few big decisions such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of judges, but otherwise occupies a post with little power.

The Parliament serves as the legislative branch of government. Members of Parliament (MPs) are made up of elected, non-constituency and nominated members. Elected MPs are voted into parliament on a "first-past-the-post" (plurality) system 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 in 1959. However, in the most recent parliamentary elections in 2011, the opposition, led by the Workers' Party, made large and important gains and increased its representation in the House to 6 elected MPs, and two nominated MPs.

The legal system of Singapore is based on English common law, however with large and important local differences. Trial by jury was completely removed in 1970 leaving judicial judgement done completely and only by judgeship. Singapore has punishments that include judicial corporal punishment in the form of caning for rioting, vandalism, and some immigration crimes. There is a mandatory death penalty for murder, and for certain drug-trafficking and firearms offences. In a 2008 survey, international business executives believed Singapore, together with Hong Kong, had the best judicial system in Asia.

People

Religion

Buddhism is the most common religion in Singapore. Other common religions include: Christianity, Islam, Taoism, and Hinduism.

Education

Educational level of Singaporeans that are not students and are older than 15 in 2005
Highest qualification Percentage
No education
  
18%
Primary school
  
45%
Secondary school
  
15%
Post-secondary diploma
  
8%
Degree
  
13%

Students in Singapore go through six years of compulsory Primary school, which ends with all students taking a Primary School Leaving Examination(PSLE). Then, depending on their results in the PSLE, students are streamed into "Special", "Express", "Normal (Academic)", and "Normal (Technical)" groups. The amount of time a student spends studying in Secondary school (4–5 years) depends on their group.

Students are taught in English and their mother tongue, which can be Chinese, Malay or Tamil. Secondary school students may also choose to study a third language.

Students can take a third language as it increases their chances in getting an overseas scholarship and can improve their examination grades, especially in the GCE Ordinary Level ("O" Levels), which are Secondary students take after their five or four years of education. However, only some students can qualify to take a third language.

After their "O" Levels, students can choose to go to a polytechnic, which is a place where students can study for 3 years for a diploma or to a junior college where students study for 2 years to receive an "A" Level. Students can also go to Institutes of Technical Education (ITE), where students study for two years to receive a "National ITE Certificate" (NITEC). This certificate is only recognized in Singapore. Students who go to ITE usually continue their education at a polytechnic.

With either a diploma, or an "A" Level certificate, students can apply to go to Universities in Singapore or overseas.

Languages

Native languages of Singaporeans
language % of first language speakers
Chinese
  
51%
English
  
32%
Malay
  
13%
Tamil
  
7%

The Singapore government has chosen four official languages: English, Malay, Chinese (Mandarin), and Tamil. English is the primary language. Singapore English is the main language in Singapore.

English is the first language of the nation, but it is not the most common. English is the second most commonly spoken language among Singaporeans. The most commonly spoken language amongst Singaporeans in their homes is Chinese (51%), followed by English (32%), Malay (13%) and Tamil (3%). This means that 32% of Singaporeans are native English speakers. Most of the rest of the people speak it as a second language. However, English has the largest total number of speakers including native and second language speakers. Mandarin Chinese is the second most common.

Almost 40% of people in Singapore are foreign. Most foreigners come from Asia. The two countries where most foreigners come from are Malaysia (mostly Malaysian Chinese) and China. In 2009, there may have been 350,000 Malaysians working in Singapore. Many Chinese-speaking foreigners and Chinese-speaking Singaporeans work in services. Thus, Chinese is the main language of many workers such as hawkers, retail assistants, hairdressers, etc. in Singapore today.

Singapore from Chinatown
Singapore from Chinatown

Singaporean English mainly comes from British English. There are many Singapore accents in English because of the many languages and identities of people in the city. Languages can even change over the generations and children may speak different languages and have different accents from their mother. For example, in a Singaporean Chinese family, the grandmother might speak Hokkien as her first language. Differently, the mother might speak Mandarin as her first language and Hokkien/English as her second languages, while the grandson might speak English as his first language and Mandarin as his second language.

Before independence in 1965, Hokkien, a Chinese dialect, was the common language among the Chinese laborers. Malay and English were used to communicate between the different ethnic groups. After independence in 1965, English became the first language of the nation and replaced Hokkien and Malay as the one shared language. Today, most younger Singaporeans have English as their first language or are fluent in English.

Malay is a national language of Singapore because of the history of the city. However, less than 20% of Singaporeans can read and write in Malay. Malay is still used at home by most Singaporean Malays. The Malay used in Singapore (Bahasa Melayu) is closer to the language in Malaysia than the language in Indonesia. However, there are differences between the Malay in Singapore and in Malaysia. The national anthem "Majulah Singapura" is sung in Malay.

Many people speak Chinese – Mandarin and other Chinese dialects – in Singapore. Just over 50% of Singaporeans speak it at home, so it is the most common language in homes. Singaporean Mandarin is based on simplified Chinese and it is similar to the system used in mainland China. The forms of Mandarin spoken in Singapore range from Standard Mandarin to a pidgin known as Singdarin. Besides Mandarin, many southern Chinese dialects are also spoken in Singapore.

Hokkien used to be a lingua franca among the Singaporean Chinese so many older Singaporeans still understand Hokkien. The most common Chinese dialects spoken by Singaporeans are the Hokkien, Hainan, Teochew and Cantonese. However, Chinese dialects other than Mandarin are not allowed in the media, so these dialects are quickly dying out. Most younger Singaporeans do not speak them anymore.

Tamil is spoken by about 60% of Indians in Singapore. That is about 5% of all Singaporeans. Indian languages such as Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi are also spoken by a small group of Singaporean Indians in Singapore.

Culture

Singapore has many kinds of people and immigrants from many places. Therefore, Singaporean culture has often been described as a mix of cultures – British, Malay, Chinese, Indian and Peranakan. Also, foreigners are 42% of the population in Singapore and they are part of changing Singaporean culture.

Food

Hainanese Chicken Rice
The Hainanese chicken rice, a local food in Singapore

Dining is an important part of life in Singapore. Singaporean food is an example of the many different cultures in the country. It is also an example of mixing among cultures. British, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Tamil, and Indonesian styles of cooking all mix together. Typical Singaporean food includes: Satay, Nasi lemak, Chilli crab, and Hainanese chicken rice.

Media

MediaCorp, the state-owned media corporation, operates all seven local broadcast television channels in Singapore. It also runs 13 radio stations of the total 18 radio stations in Singapore. Radio and television stations are all owned by government controlled companies. However, one radio transmitter in Singapore is not controlled by the government. That is the Far Eastern Relay Station of the BBC World Service.

Print media of Singapore includes 16 newspapers and several magazines. Daily newspapers are published in English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.

National flower

VandaMissJoaquim
The national flower of Singapore

The national flower of Singapore is Vanda Miss Joaquim. It is a type of orchid and it is a hybrid orchid. This makes Singapore the only nation in the world to have a hybrid as a national flower. It was chosen because it was part of the effort to create national pride and identity.

Economy

Singapore has a strong and free economy that supports a large middle class. The city state is a global shipping and logistics hub and many multinational firms have their offices in Singapore. The national airline, Singapore Airlines has a large global network which brings tourists and business travelers alike, to the city.

Singapore also has a port located at the south of Singapore, called Keppel Harbour. It is one of the busiest ports around the world with many ships coming in to trade in a single day. Singapore also has another port on Jurong Island.

Singapore port panorama
The port of Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world.

Money

Singapore's currency is the Singapore dollar. The short name for the Singapore dollar is SGD. Brunei dollar can be used in Singapore, because they have the same value.

Geography

CIA World Factbook map of Singapore (English)
A Map of Singapore and the surrounding islands & waterways

Singapore is made up of 63 islands, including the main island, which is known as Singapore Island to most people, but is also known 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 (545 ft).

About 23% of Singapore's land area are forest and nature reserves. Urbanisation has removed most primary rainforest, with Bukit Timah Nature Reserve the only significant remaining forest. Even though there is very little primary rainforest left, there are more than 300 parks and four nature reserves in Singapore. There are also many trees planted all over Singapore and almost fifty per cent of the country is covered by trees and plants. Because of this, Singapore is also commonly known as the 'Garden City'.

Singapore, being a small country, has been reclaiming land from the sea around the island. The first time Singapore started to reclaim land was in the 1960s. The total land area of Singapore at that time was 581.5 km2 and it has increased to 633 km2 in the 1990s, which is an increase of about 9% in total land area. It is now 704 km2 (272 sq mi), and may grow by another 100 km2 (40 sq mi) by 2030. Some land reclamation projects involve joining together smaller islands to make larger islands with more uses, like Jurong Island. Singapore uses the landfill method to reclaim the sea at the south of the country. The country's rapid reclamation projects has made disputes with its neighbouring countries, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Climate

Symphony Lake, Singapore Botanic Gardens - 20041025
The Singapore botanic garden, which is part of Singapore's forests.

Singapore is hot and wet all year round. It has a tropical rainforest climate (Af in the Köppen climate classification), which means there are no spring, summer, autumn and winter in Singapore. There is the most rain at the end of the year, and the temperature is usually around 20 °C to 35 °C.

Although Singapore does not experience the four seasons, the period from May to June is usually warmer, while the period from November to January is cooler because of the more frequent rains and monsoonal winds in Singapore during the year-end.


Climate data for Singapore
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 35.2
(95.4)
35.2
(95.4)
36.0
(96.8)
35.8
(96.4)
35.4
(95.7)
35.0
(95)
34.0
(93.2)
34.2
(93.6)
34.3
(93.7)
34.6
(94.3)
34.2
(93.6)
33.8
(92.8)
36.0
(96.8)
Average high °C (°F) 30.1
(86.2)
31.1
(88)
31.6
(88.9)
31.7
(89.1)
31.6
(88.9)
31.3
(88.3)
30.9
(87.6)
30.9
(87.6)
30.9
(87.6)
31.1
(88)
30.6
(87.1)
30.0
(86)
31.0
(87.8)
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.0
(78.8)
26.5
(79.7)
27.0
(80.6)
27.4
(81.3)
27.7
(81.9)
27.7
(81.9)
27.4
(81.3)
27.3
(81.1)
27.2
(81)
27.0
(80.6)
26.5
(79.7)
26.0
(78.8)
27.0
(80.6)
Average low °C (°F) 23.3
(73.9)
23.6
(74.5)
23.9
(75)
24.4
(75.9)
24.8
(76.6)
24.8
(76.6)
24.6
(76.3)
24.5
(76.1)
24.2
(75.6)
24.1
(75.4)
23.8
(74.8)
23.5
(74.3)
24.1
(75.4)
Record low °C (°F) 19.4
(66.9)
19.7
(67.5)
20.2
(68.4)
20.7
(69.3)
21.2
(70.2)
20.8
(69.4)
19.7
(67.5)
20.2
(68.4)
20.7
(69.3)
20.6
(69.1)
21.1
(70)
20.6
(69.1)
19.4
(66.9)
Rainfall mm (inches) 242.4
(9.543)
161.0
(6.339)
185.9
(7.319)
179.3
(7.059)
172.5
(6.791)
161.0
(6.339)
158.6
(6.244)
175.0
(6.89)
169.3
(6.665)
194.0
(7.638)
256.6
(10.102)
288.4
(11.354)
2,344.0
(92.283)
Humidity 84.7 82.9 83.8 84.7 84.3 82.8 82.7 82.9 83.4 84.0 86.3 86.9 84.1
Avg. rainy days 15 11 14 15 15 13 13 14 14 16 19 19 178
Sunshine hours 172.4 183.2 192.7 173.6 179.8 177.7 187.9 180.6 156.2 155.2 129.6 133.5 2,022.4
Source #1: National Environment Agency (Temp 1929–1941 and 1948–2013, Rainfall 1869–2013, Humidity 1929–1941 and 1948–2013, Rain days 1891–2013)
Source #2: NOAA (sun only, 1961—1990)

Relations with other countries

Singapore has diplomatic relations with 175 other Sovereign states. Singapore's foreign policy is to maintain a secure environment in Southeast Asia as well as the countries near Southeast Asia. A basic rule is the political and economic stability in Southeast Asia.

ASEAN

Singapore is part of the ASEAN (Association of the South East Asian nations) network, which is an organisation that unites all South East Asian countries. Member countries of ASEAN work with and help other countries in ASEAN. Singapore is one of the countries that founded ASEAN.

Commonwealth of Nations

Singapore is also part of the Commonwealth of Nations, which is for countries that used to be under the British.

Land reclamation

Singapore, being a small country, has been reclaiming land from the sea around the island. The first time Singapore started to reclaim land was in the 1960s. The total land area of Singapore at that time was 581.5 km2 and it has increased to 633 km2 in the 1990s, which is an increase of about 9% in total land area. Singapore uses the landfill method to reclaim the sea at the south of the country. The country's rapid reclamation projects has made disputes with its neighbouring countries, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Singapore reclaims lots of land due to the following reasons:

  • The small size of the country.
  • There is a rising demand for more land as the population increases.

Holidays

Sn-map
Map of Singapore

Public holidays in Singapore:

There are also school holidays, lasting one week in March and September, about one month in June, and about one and a half months in December.

Records

Sg-flyer-4oct07
The Singapore Flyer

Singapore holds records with its buildings and people. Some are:

Type of record Name of record Received record
Building Singapore Flyer For the tallest Ferris wheel in the world

Transportation

KUB-EuroV-SBST
Buses can take riders to almost any part of Singapore, even those not reached by MRTs

There are buses, trains, and taxis in Singapore.

Singapore has a railway system known as the Mass Rapid Transit, or MRT in short. There are also taxi companies like Comfort Cabs, Silver Cab, SMRT Taxis, CityCab and Premier Taxi. There is one telephone number to call a taxi, of which the closest taxi from any company will respond.

The Mass Rapid Transit of Singapore is the most commonly used form of transportation in Singapore.

The Singaporean land transport system is controlled by the LTA (Land Transport Authority) of Singapore.

Airport

Aerial view of Singapore Changi Airport and Changi Air Base - 20110523
An aerial view of Changi International Airport.

The Singapore Changi Airport is the main airport of Singapore. It is in the east of Singapore, with a total of four terminals with airlines flying to many different parts of the world. It has also received many awards for being the best airport in the world.

The airport is in Changi. It is on a 13 square kilometres (5.0 sq mi) site which was reclaimed from the sea.

Images


Singapore for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.