Return to Singapore (place)

Singapore is a small country that is 3.5 times the size of Washington, D.C. and that lies off of the southern tip of Malaysia. This country consists of one major island and more than 58 small adjacent islands. Singapore is located in southeast Asia between Malaysia and Indonesia. It is not very large and is only about 240 miles in area. It is in an exclusive fishing zone; subsequently, fishing brings in a lot of money to Singapore's economy. Its climate is tropical: hot, humid, and rainy. There aren't any actual rainy or dry seasons, although thunderstorms occur 40 percent of all days; in April, they occur 57 percent of all days. The terrain is low barring a few plateaus that act as natural water encasement and nature preserves. The elevation extremes are not drastic, the highest point being 166 meters while the lowest point is 0 meters. Also, Singapore is a popular place because it has no evident natural hazards.

In 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founded Singapore as a British trading port: the British East India Trading Company. In 1824, the sultan of Johor deeded the land to Britain. It flourished as a trading and manufacturing center and passed from the company to the British government. On September 6, 1945, the city was liberated from Britain and on June 3, 1959, it was united with Malaya, North Borneo, and Sarawak to form Malaysia. In 1965 Singapore separated from Malaysia, and in December of that year was proclaimed a republic. On September 2, 1993, Ong Teng Cheong (of the People's Action Party) became the country's first directly-elected president.

Singapore's population is an estimated 4.6 million people and has a 3.42 percent growth rate. The population mainly consists of Chinese, Malays, and Indians, and the four official languages are English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Among the main religions found in the country are Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, Sikh, Taoism, and Christianity.

Singaporeans have a high standard of education, cleanliness, and pride. More than 93 percent of Singapore's citizens can read and write. Demerits are not tolerated. Once, an American tourist committed an act of vandalism and was caned. Health and housing standards are also high.

Singapore's government is a parliamentary republic. The current president is President Sellapan Rama, who was elected in 1999. Singapore is governed under a constitution that was amended in 1965. Its government consists of a president; a prime minister; and the Parliament, which has 81 members.

Singapore's economy has done well since the 1960s. Tourism is a major part in their economy, but dropped sharply in 1983 as a result of foreign trade problems. Then in 1985, Singapore brought in over $3 million from trade and the slump was over. Since 1989, 80 percent of Singapore's economy has been gleaned from tourism. Other industries of Singapore include petroleum refining; electronics; oil drilling equipment; rubber processing and products; processed food and beverages; ship repair; entrepot trade, places where goods are stored or deposited and from which they are distributed; financial services; and biotechnology. Singapore has agricultural benefits as well: rubber, copra(coconut oil), fruits and vegetables, and poultry.

Singapore has traditions, festivals, and tourist sights. In late summer, the Singaporean streets are decorated for the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts. You might also see a wayang or street opera. These wonderful displays of culture are shows performed in the street, and 'good versus evil' is often a theme. Also, a huge statue guards the mouth of the Singapore River. Half lion, half fish, it is called a mulion; this is Singapore's national symbol and it represents strength and pride, as well as their fishing-oriented economy. Singapore has a unique transportation system. While there are only nine airports, approximately 3,000 km of highway, and 48 train stations, their main harbor is the busiest port in the entire world.

Singapore, like any country, has problems as well. Many Singaporean AIDS victims do not tell their significant others of their disease, and the government has decided to mandate spouses sharing this medical information. As of late, there have been disputes with Malaysia over deliveries of fresh water to Singapore. Other national issues include Singapore's land reclamation works on Johor, and debates over the country's maritime boundaries. Also, because of Singapore's bustling port, Golden Triangle heroin is being smuggled out of Singapore into the United States, western Europe, and third world countries.