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Republic of Singapore

Malay: Republik Singapura
Mandarin: 新加坡共和国
Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு
Coat of arms of Singapore
Coat of arms
Motto: Majulah Singapura  (Malay)
"Onward Singapore"
Anthem: Majulah Singapura  (Malay)
"Onward Singapore"
Location of Singapore
Capital Singapore (city-state)
1°17′N 103°50′E / 1.283°N 103.833°E / 1.283; 103.833
Largest planning area by population Bedok
Official languages
National language Malay
Ethnic groups
  • 74.3% Chinese
  • 13.5% Malay
  • 9.0% Indian
  • 3.2% other
  • 31.1% Buddhism
  • 20.0% no religion
  • 18.9% Christianity
  • 15.6% Islam
  • 8.8% Taoism
  • 5.0% Hinduism
  • 0.6% other
Demonym(s) Singaporean
Government Unitary dominant-party parliamentary republic
Tharman Shanmugaratnam
Lee Hsien Loong
Legislature Parliament
• Self-governance
3 June 1959
16 September 1963
9 August 1965
• Total
734.3 km2 (283.5 sq mi) (176th)
• 2023 estimate
Neutral increase 5,917,600 (113rd)
• Density
7,804/km2 (20,212.3/sq mi) (2nd)
GDP (PPP) 2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $753.273 billion (38th)
• Per capita
Increase $133,107 (3rd)
GDP (nominal) 2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $497.347 billion (32nd)
• Per capita
Increase $87,884 (5th)
Gini (2017) Steady 45.9
HDI (2021) Increase 0.939
very high · 12th
Currency Singapore dollar (S$) (SGD)
Time zone UTC+8 (Singapore Standard Time)
Date format dd/mm/yyyy
Driving side left
Calling code +65
ISO 3166 code SG
Internet TLD .sg

The Republic of Singapore is an island country & city-state. It is at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula in Asia. Singapore is about one degree of latitude (137 kilometres or 85 miles) north of the equator. Its closest neighbors are Malaysia and Indonesia. About 5.40 million people live in Singapore. About 3.31 million are citizens. Most of them (76%) are ethnically Chinese. In Sanskrit, an old Indian language, "Singaporean", 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". It is because there are plants everywhere, making it look like a garden.

It is also sometimes jokingly called a "fine" city. Not only does the city have a very high standard of living, but it is also known for having many strict rules and punishments, including fines.

The national language of Singapore is Malay. 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 first language. This means that the Chinese will learn Mandarin, Malays will learn Malay, and so on. Students can also choose to learn a third language in secondary school.


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, the real founder of Singapore in the 13th century, (although there is some debates about Raffles and Farquhar who founded Singapore which is found to be false) 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, such as Chinese coins, that showed that Temasek was a trading port even before the British rule.

1819 to 1940

Few people lived in Singapore at the beginning of the 19th century. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles set up a British trading town in 1819, and it 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

The Japanese marching in Singapore during the World War II period

Due to the weak defenses of the country, the Japanese attacked Singapore and took control of the colony on 15 February 1942. 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 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 most notable anti-Japanese force was Force 136, headed by Lim Bo Seng. Its purpose was to encourage and supply resistance movements in the enemy-occupied territory and occasionally mount clandestine sabotage operations.

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.


In 1963 Singapore joined with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form the new nation of Malaysia. Malaysia is a country with many races. In Malaya, 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. In 2011 Freedom House ranked Singapore as "partly free" in its Freedom in the World report, and The Economist ranked 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. In a 2008 survey, international business executives believed Singapore, together with Hong Kong, had the best judicial system in Asia.



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


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

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 such as:

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.


Language used most frequently at home
Language Percent

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 (7%). 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.


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.


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. It is especially known for its sea food. Typical Singaporean food includes: Satay, Nasi lemak, Chilli crab, and Hainanese chicken rice.


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.

The national flower of Singapore

National flower

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.


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.


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.


Singapore Skyline 2019-10
The Merlion, the official mascot of Singapore

Tourism is a major industry and contributor to the Singaporean economy, attracting 18.5 million international tourists in 2018, more than three times Singapore's total population. Singapore is the 5th most visited city in the world, and 2nd in the Asia-Pacific. In 2019 tourism contributed directly to about 4% of Singapore's GDP, down from 2016, when tourism contributed, directly and indirectly, to around 9.9% of Singapore's GDP. Altogether, the sector generated approximately 8.6% of Singapore's employment in 2016.

Singapore skyline at sunset viewed from Gardens by the Bay East - 20120426
Marina Bay

In 2015, Lonely Planet and The New York Times listed Singapore as their top and 6th-best world destinations to visit, respectively. Well-known landmarks include the Merlion, the Esplanade, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Jewel Changi Airport, CHIJMES, National Gallery Singapore, the Singapore Flyer, the Orchard Road shopping belt, the resort island of Sentosa, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore's first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is the statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry which is tasked with the promotion of the country's tourism industry. In August 2017 the STB and the Economic Development Board (EDB) unveiled a unified brand, Singapore – Passion Made Possible, to market Singapore internationally for tourism and business purposes. The Orchard Road district, which contains multi-storey shopping centres and hotels, can be considered the centre of shopping and tourism in Singapore. Other popular tourist attractions include the Singapore Zoo, River Wonders and Night Safari. The Singapore Zoo has embraced the open zoo concept whereby animals are kept in enclosures, separated from visitors by hidden dry or wet moats, instead of caging the animals, and the River Wonders has 300 species of animals, including numerous endangered species. Singapore promotes itself as a medical tourism hub, with about 200,000 foreigners seeking medical care there each year. Singapore medical services aim to serve at least one million foreign patients annually and generate US$3 billion in revenue.

As of January 2018, one US dollar is about $1.35 Singapore dollars.


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.


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 seasons (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
Average high °C (°F) 30.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.0
Average low °C (°F) 23.3
Record low °C (°F) 19.4
Average rainfall mm (inches) 242.4
Average rainy days 15 11 14 15 15 13 13 14 14 16 19 19 178
Average relative 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
Mean monthly 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.


Singapore is part of the ASEAN (Association of the South East Asian nations) network, which is an organisation that unites all Southeast 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.


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.


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


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.


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 for kids

See also

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