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The British East India Company established an trading post on the
island in 1819. The main settlement up to that point was a Malay
fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several hundred
indigenous Orang Laut people also lived around the coast, rivers
and smaller islands. The British used Singapore as a strategic trading
post along the spice route. It became one of the most important
commercial and military centres of the British Empire. Winston Churchill
called it "Britain's greatest defeat" when it was occupied
by the Japanese during World War II. Singapore reverted to British
rule in 1945. In 1963, it merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak
to form Malaysia. Less than two years later it split from the federation
and became an independent republic on 9 August 1965. Singapore joined
the United Nations on September 21 that same year.
Since independence, Singapore's standard of living has increased.
Foreign direct investment and a state-led industrialization drive
based on plans drawn up by the Dutch economist Albert Winsemius
have created a modern economy based on electronics manufacturing,
petrochemicals, tourism and financial services alongside the traditional
entrepôt trade. Singapore is the 17th wealthiest country in
the world in terms of GDP per capita. The small nation has a
foreign reserve of S$224.65385 billion (US$158.99250 billion). 
The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore established the nation's
political system as a representative democracy, while the country
is recognized as a parliamentary republic. The People's Action
Party (PAP) dominates the political process and has won control
of Parliament in every election since self-government in 1959.
1.1 Origin of name
1.2 First settlement
1.3 World War II
2 Government and politics
2.1 Foreign relations
3 Geography and climate
4.1 Free Trade Agreements
7.2 Performing arts
7.4 Sport and recreation
9.1 Water Resource
13 External links
Main article: History of Singapore
 Origin of name
The name Singapura comes from the Malay words singa ("lion")
and pura ("city"). According to the Malay Annals,
this name was given by a 14th century Sumatran prince named Sang
Nila Utama, who, landing on the island after a thunderstorm, spotted
an auspicious beast on the shore that his chief minister identified
as a lion. Recent studies of Singapore indicate that lions have
never lived there (not even Asiatic lions), and the beast seen by
Sang Nila Utama was likely a tiger, most likely the Malayan Tiger.[citation
 First settlement
The first records of settlement in Singapore are from the 2nd century
AD. The island was an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire
and originally had the Javanese name Temasek ('sea town'). Temasek
(Tumasek) rapidly became a significant trading settlement, but declined
in the late 14th century. There are few remnants of old Temasek
in Singapore, but archaeologists in Singapore have uncovered artefacts
of that and other settlements. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries,
Singapore island was part of the Sultanate of Johor. During the
Malay-Portugal wars in 1613, the settlement was set ablaze by Portuguese
troops. The Portuguese subsequently held control in that century
and the Dutch in the 17th, but throughout most of this time the
island's population consisted mainly of fishermen.
Statue of Thomas Stamford Raffles by Thomas Woolner, erected at
the location where he first landed at Singapore. He is recognized
as the founder of modern Singapore.On 29 January 1819, Sir Thomas
Stamford Raffles landed on the main island. Spotting its potential
as a strategic geographical trading post in Southeast Asia, Raffles
signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah on behalf of the British
East India Company to develop Singapore as a British trading post
and settlement, marking the start of the island's modern era. Raffles's
deputy, William Farquhar, oversaw a period of growth and ethnic
migration, which was largely spurred by a no-restriction immigration
policy. The British India office governed the island from 1858,
but Singapore was made a British crown colony in 1867, answerable
directly to the Crown. By 1869, 100,000 lived on the island. 
The early onset of town planning in colonial Singapore came largely
through a "divide and rule" framework where the different
ethnic groups were settled in different parts of the South of the
island. The Singapore River was largely a commercial area that was
dominated by traders and bankers of various ethnic groups with mostly
Chinese and Indian coolies working to load and unload goods from
barge boats known locally as "bumboats". The Malays, consisting
of the local "Orang Lauts" who worked mostly as fishermen
and sea-farers, and Arab traders and scholars were mostly found
in the South-east part of the river mouth, where Kampong Glam stands
today. The European settlers, who were few then, settled around
Fort Canning Hill and further upstream from the Singapore River.
Like the Europeans, the early Indian migrants also settled more
inland of the Singapore River, where Little India stands today.
Very little is known about the rural private settlements in those
times (known as kampongs), other than the major move by the post-independent
Singapore government to re-settle these residents in the late 1960s.
 World War II
During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Malaya,
culminating in the Battle of Singapore. The ill-prepared British
were defeated in six days, and surrendered the supposedly impregnable
"Bastion of the Empire" to General Tomoyuki Yamashita
on 15 February 1942 in what is now known as the British Empire's
greatest military defeat. The Japanese renamed Singapore Shonanto
(???, Shonanto?), from Japanese "Showa no jidai ni eta minami
no shima" ("???????????", "Showa no jidai ni
eta minami no shima"?), or "southern island obtained in
the age of Showa", and occupied it until the British repossessed
the island on 12 September 1945, a month after the Japanese surrender.
The name Shonanto was, at the time, romanized as "Syonan-to"
or "Syonan", which means "Light of the South".
The Downtown Core at dusk, the civic and business district of Singapore.Singapore
became a self-governing state within the British Empire in 1959
with Yusof bin Ishak its first Yang di-Pertuan Negara and Lee Kuan
Yew its first Prime Minister. It declared independence from Britain
unilaterally in August 1963, before joining the Federation of Malaysia
in September along with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak as the result
of the 1962 Merger Referendum of Singapore. Singapore was expelled
from the federation two years later after heated ideological conflict
between the state's PAP government and the federal Kuala Lumpur
government. Singapore officially gained sovereignty on 9 August
1965. Yusof bin Ishak was sworn in as the first President of
Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew remained prime minister.
The fledgling nation had to be self-sufficient, and faced problems
like mass unemployment, housing shortages, and a dearth of land
and natural resources. During Lee Kuan Yew's term as prime minister
from 1959 to 1990, his administration attacked widespread unemployment,
raised the standard of living, and implemented a large-scale public
housing programme. The country's economic infrastructure was developed,
the threat of racial tension was curbed, and an independent national
defence system, centring around compulsory male military service,
In 1990, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee as Prime Minister. During
his tenure, the country tackled the impacts of the 1997 Asian financial
crisis, the 2003 SARS outbreak, and terrorist threats posed by the
Jemaah Islamiyah group after the September 11 attacks. In 2004,
Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the third
prime minister. Amongst his more notable decisions is the plan
to open casinos to attract more foreign tourists.
 Government and politics
Parliament HouseMain article: Politics of Singapore
See also: Law of Singapore
Singapore is a republic with a Westminster system of unicameral
parliamentary government representing different constituencies.
The bulk of the executive powers rests with the Cabinet, headed
by the Prime Minister. The office of President of Singapore, historically
a ceremonial one, was granted some veto powers as of 1991 for a
few key decisions such as the use of the national reserves and the
appointment of judiciary positions. Although the position is to
be elected by popular vote, only the 1993 election has been contested
to date. The legislative branch of government is the Parliament.
Parliamentary elections in Singapore are plurality-based for group
representation constituencies since the Parliamentary Elections
Act was modified in 1991.
The Istana, the official residence and office of the President of
SingaporeSingaporean politics have been controlled by the People's
Action Party (PAP) since self-government was attained. In consequence,
foreign political analysts and several opposition parties like the
Workers' Party of Singapore, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)
and the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) have argued that Singapore
is essentially a one-party state. Many analysts consider Singapore
to be more of an illiberal or procedural democracy than a true democracy.
The Economist Intelligence Unit describes Singapore as a "hybrid
regime" of democratic and authoritarian elements. Freedom
House ranks the country as "partly free". Though general
elections are free from irregularities and vote rigging, the PAP
has been criticised for manipulating the political system through
its use of censorship, gerrymandering, and civil libel suits against
opposition politicians. Francis Seow, the exiled former Solicitor-General
of Singapore, is a prominent critic. Seow and opposition politicians
such as J.B. Jeyaretnam and Chee Soon Juan claim that Singapore
courts favour the PAP government, and there is no separation of
Singapore has a successful and transparent market economy. Government-linked
companies are dominant in various sectors of the local economy,
such as media, utilities, and public transport. Singapore has consistently
been rated as the least corrupt country in Asia and among the world's
ten most free from corruption by Transparency International.
Although Singapore's laws are inherited from British and British
Indian laws, including many elements of English common law, the
PAP has also consistently rejected liberal democratic values, which
it typifies as Western and states there should not be a 'one-size-fits-all'
solution to a democracy. There are no jury trials. Laws restricting
the freedom of speech are justified by claims that they are intended
to prohibit speech that may breed ill will or cause disharmony within
Singapore's multiracial, multi-religious society. For example, in
September 2005, three bloggers were convicted of sedition for posting
racist remarks targeting minorities. Some offences can lead
to heavy fines or caning and there are laws which allow capital
punishment in Singapore for first-degree murder and drug trafficking.
Amnesty International has criticised Singapore for having "possibly
the highest execution rate in the world" per capita. The
Singapore government argues that there is no international consensus
on the appropriateness of the death penalty and that Singapore has
the sovereign right to determine its own judicial system and impose
capital punishment for the most serious crimes.
 Foreign relations
Main article: Foreign relations of Singapore
Singapore maintains diplomatic relations with 175 countries 
although it does not maintain a high commission or embassy in many
of those countries. It is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth,
ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement. Due to obvious geographical
reasons, relations with Malaysia and Indonesia are most important.
Singapore enjoys good relations with the United Kingdom which shares
ties in the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) along with Malaysia,
Australia and New Zealand. Good relations are also maintained with
the United States; the US is perceived as a stabilizing force in
the region to counterbalance the regional powers.
Singapore has several long-standing disputes with Malaysia over
a number of issues:
water deliveries to Singapore (historically at three Malaysian
cents (0.85 cents) for every 1000 gallons of raw water) 
mutual maritime boundaries
air routes between Singapore Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International
the Singapore-occupied island known as Pedra Branca in Singapore
and as Pulau Batu Puteh in Malaysia (names mean "White Rock"
in Portuguese and "White Rock Island" in Malay respectively),
located 24 nautical miles (44 km) off the east coast of Singapore
with a land area of 2,000 m² (2,392 sq yd) (the island also
comprises Middle Rocks which are two clusters of rocks situated
0.6 nmi (1.1 km) south of Pedra Branca, and South Ledge, a rock
formation which can be seen only at low tide)
relocating the Singapore station of Malaysia's Keretapi Tanah Melayu
from Tanjong Pagar to Bukit Timah (see Malaysia-Singapore Points
of Agreement of 1990) and moving Malaysia's immigration checkpoint
from the railway station to the Causeway
not allowing laid off workers, employed in Singapore shipyards in
1998, to receive their Central Provident Funds (CPF) contributions,
which are estimated to be RM2.4 billion.
 Geography and climate
Singapore Downtown as seen from the DHL Balloon.Main article: Geography
and climate of Singapore
Singapore consists of 63 islands, including mainland Singapore.
There are two man-made connections to Johor, Malaysia — Johor-Singapore
Causeway in the north, and Tuas Second Link in the west. Jurong
Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest of
Singapore's many smaller islands. The highest natural point of Singapore
is Bukit Timah Hill at 166 m (545 ft).
The south of Singapore, around the mouth of the Singapore River
and what is now the Downtown Core, used to be the only concentrated
urban area, while the rest of the land was either undeveloped tropical
rainforest or used for agriculture. Since the 1960s, the government
has constructed new residential towns in outlying areas, resulting
in an entirely built-up urban landscape. The Urban Redevelopment
Authority was established on 1 April 1974, responsible for urban
Singapore Botanic Gardens, a 67.3-hectare (166 acre) Botanic Gardens
in Singapore that includes the National Orchid Garden, which has
a collection of more than 3,000 species of orchids.Singapore has
on-going land reclamation projects with earth obtained from its
own hills, the sea-bed, and neighbouring countries. As a result,
Singapore's land area grew from 581.5 km² (224.5 sq mi) in
the 1960s to 704 km² (271.8 sq mi) today, and may grow by another
100 km² (38.6 sq mi) by 2030. The projects sometimes involve
some of the smaller islands being merged together through land reclamation
in order to form larger, more functional islands, such as in the
case of Jurong Island.
Under the Köppen climate classification system, Singapore
has a tropical rainforest climate with no distinctive seasons. Its
climate is characterized by uniform temperature and pressure, high
humidity, and abundant rainfall. Temperatures range from 22 °C
to 34 °C (72°–93 °F). On average, the relative
humidity is around 90 percent in the morning and 60 percent in the
afternoon. During prolonged heavy rain, relative humidity often
reaches 100 percent. The lowest and highest temperatures recorded
in its maritime history are 18.4 °C (65.1 °F) and 37.8 °C
(100.0 °F) respectively. The highest wind speed recorded was
150 km/h (93 mph) on 26 May 2007. June and July are the hottest
months, while November and December make up the wetter monsoon season.
From August to October, there is often haze, sometimes severe enough
to prompt public health warnings, due to bushfires in neighbouring
Indonesia. Singapore does not observe daylight saving time or a
summer time zone change. The length of the day is nearly constant
year round due to the country's location near the equator.
About 23 percent of Singapore's land area consists of forest and
nature reserves. Urbanization has eliminated many areas of former
primary rainforest, with the only remaining area of primary rainforest
being Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. A variety of parks are maintained
with human intervention, such as the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Without natural freshwater rivers and lakes, the primary domestic
source of water supply in Singapore is rainfall, collected in reservoirs
or catchment areas. Rainfall supplies approximately 50 percent of
Singapore's water; the remainder is imported from neighbouring countries
or obtained from recycled water facilities and desalination plants.
More NEWater and desalination plants are being built or proposed
to reduce reliance on import.
Main articles: Economy of Singapore and Tourism in Singapore
Singapore has a highly developed market-based economy, which historically
revolves around extended entrepot trade. Along with Hong Kong, South
Korea and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the Four Asian Tigers. The
economy depends heavily on exports refining imported goods, especially
in manufacturing. Manufacturing constituted 26 percent of Singapore's
GDP in 2005. The manufacturing industry is well-diversified
into electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical engineering
and biomedical sciences manufacturing. In 2006, Singapore produced
about 10 percent of the world's foundry wafer output. Singapore
is the busiest port in the world in terms of tonnage shipped.
Singapore is the world's fourth largest foreign exchange trading
centre after London, New York City and Tokyo.
Singapore has been rated as the most business-friendly economy
in the world, with thousands of foreign expatriates working
in multi-national corporations. The city-state also employs tens
of thousands of foreign blue-collared workers from around the world.
Singapore's Central Business District (CBD)In 2001, a global recession
and slump in the technology sector caused the GDP to contract by
2.2 percent. The Economic Review Committee (ERC), set up in December
2001, recommended several policy changes with a view to revitalising
the economy. Singapore has since recovered from the recession, largely
due to improvements in the world economy; the Singaporean economy
itself grew by 8.3 percent in 2004, 6.4 percent in 2005 and
7.9 percent in 2006. In the first half of Year 2007, the economy
grew by 7.6 percent. The growth forecast for the whole year is expected
to be between 7 percent to 8 percent, up from the original estimation
of 5 percent to 7 percent. On August 19 2007, Prime Minister
Lee Hsien Loong announced in his National Day Rally Speech that
Singapore's economy is expected to grow by at least 4-6 percent
annually over the next 5-10 years.
The per capita GDP in 2006 was US$29,474. As of September 2007,
the unemployment rate is 1.7 percent, which is the lowest in a decade,
having improved to around pre-Asian crisis level. Employment
continued to grow strongly as the economy maintained its rapid expansion.
In the first three quarters of 2007, 171,500 new jobs were created,
which is close to the 176,000 for the whole of 2006. For the
whole of 2007, Singapore's economy has grown 7.5 percent and drew
in a record S$16 billion of fixed asset investments in manufacturing
and projects generating S$3 billion of total business spending in
services. The government expects the Singapore economy to grow
by 4.5 percent to 6.5 percent in 2008.
Orchard Road is decorated for Christmas, 2005.Singapore introduced
a Goods and Services Tax (GST) with an initial rate of 3 percent
on 1 April 1994 substantially increasing government revenue by S$1.6
billion and stabilizing government finances. The taxable GST
was increased to 4 percent in 2003, to 5 percent in 2004, and to
7 percent on 1st July 2007.
Singapore is a popular travel destination, making tourism one of
its largest industries. About 9.7 million tourists visited Singapore
in 2006. The Orchard Road shopping district is one of Singapore's
most well-known and popular tourist draws. To attract more tourists,
the government decided in 2005 to legalise gambling and to allow
two casinos resorts (euphemistically called Integrated Resorts)
to be developed at Marina South and Sentosa. To compete with
regional rivals like Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai, the government
has announced that the city area would be transformed into a more
exciting place by lighting up the civic and commercial buildings.
Besides the Integrated Resorts, other upcoming attractions such
as the Singapore Flyer, a 165-metres high ferris wheel, the Gardens
by the Bay and a 280-metres Double Helix Bridge will be built in
the Marina Bay area. Cuisine has also been heavily promoted as an
attraction for tourists, with the Singapore Food Festival in July
organized annually to celebrate Singapore's cuisine.
Singapore is fast positioning itself as a medical tourism hub—about
200,000 foreigners sought medical care in the country each year
and Singapore medical services are aiming to serve one million foreign
patients annually by 2012 and generate USD 3 billion in revenue.
The government expects that the initiative could create an estimate
13,000 new jobs within the health industries.
Under the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Wireless@SG
is a government initiative to build Singapore's infocomm infrastructure.
Working through IDA's Call-for-Collaboration, SingTel, iCell and
QMax deploy a municipal wireless network throughout Singapore. Since
late 2006, users have enjoyed free wireless access through Wi-Fi
under the "basic-tier" package offered by all three operators
for 3 years.
 Free Trade Agreements
Singapore has 14 bilateral and multilateral trade agreements: 
ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA)
EFTA (European Free Trade Association: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway,
New Zealand (ANZSCEP)
South Korea (KSFTA)
Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (Trans-Pacific
SEP): Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore
United States of America USSFTA
Main article: Singapore Dollar
The currency of Singapore is the Singapore dollar, represented by
the symbol S$ or the abbreviation SGD. The central bank of Singapore
is the Monetary Authority of Singapore, responsible for issuing
currency. Singapore established the Board of Commissioners of Currency,
Singapore, on 7 April 1967 and issued its first coins and notes.
The Singapore dollar was exchangeable at par with the Malaysian
ringgit until 1973. Interchangeability with the Brunei dollar
is still maintained. On 27 June 2007, to commemorate 40
years of currency agreement with Brunei, a commemorative S$20 note
was launched; the back is identical to the Bruneian $20 note launched
concurrently. A circulation version of the $20 note can
be exchanged at banks in Singapore.
RSS Intrepid at Changi Naval Base during the Navy Open House 2007Main
articles: Singapore Armed Forces and Total Defence
The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), currently headed by Minister Teo
Chee Hean, oversees the Singapore Army, the Republic of Singapore
Navy, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force, collectively known
as the Singapore Armed Forces, along with volunteer private companies
involved in supporting roles. The Chief of Defence Forces is Lieutenant-General
Desmond Kuek Bak Chye.
Singapore legislation requires every able-bodied male Singaporean
citizen and second-generation permanent resident to undertake National
Service for a minimum of 2 years upon reaching 18 years of age or
completion of his studies (whichever comes first), with exemption
on medical or other grounds. After serving the two years, every
male is considered operationally ready, and is liable for reservist
national service to the age of 40 (50 for commissioned officers).
More than 350,000 men serve as operationally-ready servicemen assigned
to reservist combat units, and another 72,500 men form the full-time
national service and regular corps.
The armed forces serve primarily as a deterrent against potential
aggressors and also provide humanitarian assistance to other countries.
Singapore has mutual defence pacts with several countries, most
notably the Five Power Defence Arrangements. There is an extensive
overseas network of training grounds in the United States, Australia,
Republic of China (Taiwan), New Zealand, France, Thailand, Brunei,
India and South Africa. Since 1980, the concept and strategy of
"Total Defence" has been adopted in all aspects of security;
an approach aimed at strengthening Singapore against all kinds of
The recent rise in unconventional warfare and terrorism has cast
increasing emphasis on non-military aspects of defence. The Gurkha
Contingent, part of the Singapore Police Force, is also a counter-terrorist
force. In 1991, the hijacking of Singapore Airlines Flight 117 ended
in the storming of the aircraft by Singapore Special Operations
Force and the subsequent deaths of all four hijackers without injury
to either passengers or SOF personnel. A concern is Jemaah Islamiyah,
a militant Islamic group whose plan to attack the Australian High
Commission was ultimately foiled in 2001.
Singapore's defence resources have been used in international humanitarian
aid missions, including United Nations peacekeeping assignments
involved in 11 different countries. In September 2005, the Republic
of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) sent three CH-47 Chinook helicopters
to Louisiana to assist in relief operations for Hurricane Katrina.
In the aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami (or Boxing Day Tsunami),
the SAF deployed 3 tank landing ships, 12 Super Puma and 8 Chinook
helicopters to aid in relief operations to the countries that were
affected by the tsunami.
Main article: Demographics of Singapore
Built in 1843, the Sri Mariamman Temple is the largest Hindu temple
in Singapore. It is also one of the many religious buildings marked
as national monuments for their historical value.According to government
statistics, the population of Singapore as of September 2007 was
4.68 million, of whom 3.7 million were Singaporean citizens and
permanent residents (termed 'Singapore Residents'). Chinese
formed 75.2% of 'Singapore Residents', Malays 13.6%, Indians 8.8%,
while Eurasians and other groups formed 2.4%.
In 2006. the crude birth rate stood at 10.1 per 1000, a very low
level attributed to birth control policies, and the crude death
rate was also one of the lowest in the world at 4.3 per 1000. The
total population growth was 4.4% with Singapore residents growth
at 1.8%. The higher percentage growth rate is largely from net immigration,
but also increasing life expectancy. Singapore is the second-most
densely populated independent country in the world after Monaco,
excluding Macao and Hong Kong, which are special administrative
regions of the People's Republic of China. In 1957, Singapore's
population was approximately 1.45 million, and there was a relatively
high birth rate. Aware of the country's extremely limited natural
resources and small territory, the government introduced birth control
policies in the late 1960s. In the late 1990s, the population was
ageing, with fewer people entering the labour market and a shortage
of skilled workers. In a dramatic reversal of policy, the Singapore
government introduce a "baby bonus" scheme in 2001 (enhanced
in August 2004) that encouraged couples to have more children.
In 2006, the total fertility rate was only 1.26 children per woman,
the 3rd lowest in the world and well below the 2.10 needed to replace
the population.  In 2006, 38,317 babies were born, compared
to around 37,600 in 2005. This number, however, is not sufficient
to maintain the population growth. To overcome this problem, the
government is encouraging foreigners to immigrate to Singapore.
These large numbers of immigrants have kept Singapore's population
Main article: Religion in Singapore
Saint Andrew's CathedralSingapore is a multi-religious country.
According to Statistics Singapore, around 51 percent of resident
Singaporeans (excluding significant numbers of visitors and migrant
workers) practice Buddhism and Taoism. About 15 percent, mostly
Chinese , Eurasians, and Indians, practice Christianity - a broad
classification including Catholicism, Protestantism and other denominations.
Muslims constitute 14 percent, of whom Malays account for the majority
with a substantial number of Indian Muslims. Smaller minorities
practice Sikhism, Hinduism, the Bahá'í Faith and others,
according to the 2000 census.
Some religious materials and practices are banned in Singapore.
The Jehovah Witnesses, for example, are prohibited from distributing
religious materials and are sometimes jailed for their pacifist
refusals to serve in the Singaporean military.
About 15 percent of the population declared no religious affiliation.
Students having assembly in the hall of a Singapore secondary school.Main
article: Education in Singapore
Singapore has a high literacy rate. English is the first language
learned by half the children by the time they reach preschool age
and is the primary medium of instruction in primary school; however
mother tongues are taught in the respective languages.
Many children attend private kindergartens until they start at
primary school at the age of six. Singapore's ruling political party,
the PAP, is a big provider of preschool education through its community
English is the language of instruction for mathematics and the
natural sciences. For the Chinese community, there are Special Assistance
Plan schools which receive extra funding to teach in Mandarin. Some
schools also integrate language subjects with mathematics and the
sciences, using both English and a second language.
Curricular standards are set by the Ministry of Education with
a mix of private schools and public schools. There is no strict
public-private dichotomy: the degree of autonomy, regarding curriculum
and student admission, government funding received, and tuition
burden on the students is further classified into "government-run",
"government-aided", "autonomous", "independent",
and "privately-funded". In addition, international
schools cater to expatriate students, and to a few local students
given permission by the education ministry.
There are four state universities in Singapore; the National University
of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management
University and SIM University. A further public university is under
consideration as the government looks to provide higher education
for 30 percent of each cohort. There are also five polytechnics
(Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic,
Nanyang Polytechnic and Republic Polytechnic). Unlike similarly
named institutions in many other countries, Singapore polytechnics
do not teach to degree level.
The educational system features non-compulsory kindergarten for
three years, followed by six years of primary education concluding
with the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Four to five
years of secondary education follow, leading to N level or Singaporean
GCE 'O' Level examinations that assess their individual subject
mastery and determine which kind of tertiary education they can
Junior colleges and Millennia Institute provide a two or three-year
pre-university education route to university. An alternative, the
Integrated Programme, lets the more academically-inclined skip 'O'
levels to proceed straight to 'A' levels. Polytechnics offer courses
leading to a diploma for students as a substitute for 'A' levels
while tertiary institutions offer various bachelor's, master's,
doctoral degrees, other higher diplomas, and associate degree courses.
Other institutes include the National Institute of Education (NIE),
a teaching college to train teachers, various management institutes,
and vocational education institutes such as the Institute of Technical
The Economic Development Board (EDB) has been actively recruiting
foreign schools to set up campuses in Singapore under the "Global
Schoolhouse" programme which aims to attract 150000 foreign
students by 2015. INSEAD, a leading business school, opened
its first overseas campus here in 2001, while ESSEC Business School,
a century-old Parisian business school, provide courses specific
to Asia. University of Chicago Graduate School of Business has a
campus here as well. Tisch School of the Arts was the latest to
set up a branch campus here in 2007.
However, the EDB failed to attract and retain Warwick University
and University of New South Wales, respectively, citing lack of
academic freedom  and financial concerns .
In 1999, the Ministry of Education started the Programme for Rebuilding
and Improving Existing schools (PRIME) to upgrade school buildings,
many of which were built over 20 to 30 years ago, in phases at a
cost of S$4.5 billion. This programme achieves to provide a
better school environment for the students by upgrading school buildings
to latest standards. In 2005, the Flexible School Infrastructure
(FlexSI) framework was implemented through the building of modular
classrooms which can be opened up for larger lectures, and allowing
a school's staff members to mould their school's designs to suit
the school's unique identity and culture. At the same time, an indoor
sports hall will be provided to every school so that schools can
carry out physical education lessons in inclement weather.
Official sign showing Singapore's four official languages: English,
Mandarin, Tamil, and Malay.Main article: Languages of Singapore
The national language of Singapore is Malay for historical reasons,
and it is used in the national anthem, "Majulah Singapura".
The official languages are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. English
has been promoted as the country's language of administration since
independence. The English used is primarily based on British English,
with some American English influences. The use of English became
widespread in Singapore after it was implemented as a first language
medium in the education system, and English is the most common language
in Singaporean literature. Public signs and official publications
are in English, although there are translated versions in other
official languages. However, most Singaporeans speak a localised
hybrid form of English known as Singlish ("Singapore English"),
which has many creole-like characteristics, incorporating vocabulary
and grammar from Standard English, various Chinese dialects, Malay,
and Indian languages. The government has consistently tried to discourage
the use of Singlish in its "Speak Good English" campaigns.[citation
Main article: Culture of Singapore
Singapore is a mixture of an indigenous Malay population with a
third generation Chinese majority, as well as Indian and Arab immigrants
with some intermarriages. There also exist significant Eurasian
and Peranakan (known also as 'Straits Chinese') communities.
Enjoying Singaporean cuisine. Hawker centres and kopi tiams are
evenly distributed.Main article: Cuisine of Singapore
Singaporean cuisine is an example of diversity and cultural diffusion
in Singapore, with a fusion of Chinese, Indian, Malay and Tamil
influences. In Singapore's hawker centres traditionally Malay hawker
stalls selling halal food may serve halal versions of traditionally
Tamil food. Chinese food stalls may introduce indigenous Malay ingredients
or cooking techniques. This continues to make the cuisine of Singapore
a significant cultural attraction.
Local foods are diverse, ranging from Hainanese chicken rice to
satay. Singaporeans also enjoy a wide variety of seafood including
crabs, clams, squid, and oysters. One such dish is stingray barbecued
and served on banana leaf and with sambal or chili.
Amongst locals, popular dishes include bak chor mee, mee poh, sambal
stingray, laksa, nasi lemak, chilli crab and satay. All of which,
can be found at local hawker centres around Singapore.
 Performing arts
Esplanade, Theatres on the BaySee also: Music of Singapore
Since the 1990s, the government has been striving to promote Singapore
as a centre for arts and culture, and to transform the country into
a cosmopolitan 'gateway between the East and West'. The highlight
of these efforts was the construction of Esplanade, a centre for
performing arts that opened on October 12, 2002.
An annual arts festival is also organised by the National Arts
Council that incorporates theatre arts, dance, music and visual
arts, among other possibilities.
A first Singapore Biennale took place in 2006 to showcase contemporary
art from around the world. The next one will be in 2008 which will
feature Southeast Asian works.
Main article: Media of Singapore
Around 38,000 people work in the media in Singapore, including publishing,
print, broadcasting, film, music, digital and IT media sectors.
The industry contributed 1.56% to Singapore's gross domestic product
(GDP) in 2001 with an annual turnover of S$10 billion. The industry
grew at an average rate of 7.7% annually from 1990 to 2000, and
the government seeks to increase its GDP contribution to 3% by 2012.
The Singapore government says the media play an important role
in the country, and describes the city as one of the key strategic
media centres in the Asia-Pacific region. The goal of the government's
Media 21 plan, launched in 2002, is to establish Singapore as
a global media hub.
Main article: Broadcasting in Singapore
State-owned MediaCorp operates all seven free-to-air terrestrial
local television channels licensed to broadcast in Singapore, as
well as 14 radio channels. Radio and television stations are all
government-owned entities. All seven television channels are owned
by MediaCorp. The radio stations are mainly operated by MediaCorp
with the exception of four stations, which are operated by SAFRA
Radio and SPH UnionWorks respectively. Private ownership of satellite
dish receivers capable of viewing uncensored televised content from
abroad is illegal.
Main article: List of newspapers in Singapore
There are a total of 16 newspapers in active circulation. Daily
newspapers are published in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
Print is dominated by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), the government-linked
publisher of the flagship English-language daily, The Straits Times.
SPH publishes all other daily newspapers with the exception of Today,
a free English-language tabloid published by the state-owned broadcaster
 Sport and recreation
Main article: Sports in Singapore
Singaporeans participate in a wide variety of sports and recreational
activities. Favorite sports include football, cricket, swimming,
badminton, basketball, rugby union, volleyball and table tennis.
Most people live in public residential areas that often provide
amenities such as swimming pools, outdoor basketball courts and
indoor sport complexes. As might be expected on an island, water
sports are popular, including sailing, kayaking and water skiing.
Scuba diving is another recreation, particularly around the southern
island of Pulau Hantu which is known for its rich coral reefs.
Closing ceremony for the National StadiumThe 55,000 National Stadium,
Singapore, located in Kallang was opened in July 1973 and was used
for sporting, cultural, entertainment and national events until
its official closure on 30 June 2007 to make way for the Singapore
Sports Hub on the same site. This sports complex is expected to
be ready by 2011 and will comprise a new 55,000-capacity National
Stadium with a retractable roof, a 6,000-capacity indoor aquatic
centre, a 400-metre warm-up athletic track and a 3,000-seater multi-purpose
arena. 36,000 square metres of space have also been reserved for
Golf is gaining popularity among Singaporeans. There are 15 golf
clubs in Singapore. Some golfers prefer travelling to regional golf
courses especially in Johor, Malaysia, due to relatively cheaper
Singaporean sportsmen have performed in regional as well as international
competitions in sports such as table tennis, badminton, bowling,
sailing, silat, swimming and water polo. Athletes such as Fandi
Ahmad, Ang Peng Siong, Li Jiawei and Ronald Susilo have become household
names in the country.
The Singapore Slingers joined the Australian National Basketball
League in 2006 and have three Singaporeans in their squad. Despite
being the team with the largest support pool in the NBL, they generally
get the smallest crowds in the NBL.
Beginning in 2008, Singapore will be hosting a round of the Formula
One World Championship. The race will be staged at the Singapore
Street Circuit in the Marina Bay area and will become the first
night race on the F1 circuit and the first street circuit in
In 2007, Singapore announced its bid to host the Youth Olympic
Games in 2010.
The three tallest buildings in Singapore are located at Raffles
Place, namely, from left to right, Republic Plaza, UOB Plaza One
and OUB Centre. All three buildings are 280 metres in height.Main
article: Architecture of Singapore
The architecture of Singapore is varied, reflecting the ethnic build-up
of the country. Singapore has several ethnic neighbourhoods, including
Chinatown and Little India. These were formed under the Raffles
Plan to segregate the immigrants. Many places of worship were also
constructed during the colonial era. Sri Mariamman Temple, the Masjid
Jamae mosque and the Church of Gregory the Illuminator are among
those that were built during the colonial period. Work is now underway
to preserve these religious sites as National Monuments of Singapore.
Due to the lack of space and lack of preservation policies during
the 1960s, 70s and 80s, few historical buildings remain in the Central
Business District (CBD) - the Fullerton Hotel and the previously-moved
Lau Pa Sat being some exceptions. However, just outside of Raffles
Place, and throughout the rest of the downtown core, there is a
large scattering of pre-WWII buildings - some going back nearly
as far as Raffles, as with the Empress Place Building, built in
1827. Many classical buildings were destroyed during the post-war
decades, up until the 1990s, when the government started strict
programmes to conserve the buildings and areas of historic value.
Past the shopping malls are streets lined with shophouses. Many
other such areas have been gazetted as historic districts. Information
can be found at the URA Centre in Maxwell Road, where there are
exhibits and several models of the island and its architecture.
Singapore has also become a centre for postmodern architecture.
Historically, the demand for high-end buildings has been in and
around the Central Business District (CBD). After decades of development,
the CBD has become an area with many tall office buildings. These
buildings comprise the skyline along the coast of Marina Bay and
Raffles Place, a tourist attraction in Singapore. Plans for tall
buildings must be reviewed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.
No building in Singapore may be taller than 280 metres. The
three tallest buildings in Singapore, namely Republic Plaza, UOB
Plaza One and OUB Centre, are all 280 metres in height.
 Water Resource
Main article: Water resources of Singapore
About half of Singapore's water comes from rain collected in reservoirs.
Most of the rest comes from Malaysia. The two countries have long
argued about the legality of agreements to supply water that were
signed in colonial times.
Presently, more catchment areas, facilities to recycle water (producing
NEWater) and desalination plants are being built. This "four
tap" strategy aims to reduce reliance on foreign supply and
to diversify its water sources.
Singapore has a network of reservoirs and water catchment areas.
By 2001, there were 19 raw water reservoirs, 9 treatment works and
14 storage or service reservoirs locally to serve domestic needs.
Marina Barrage is a dam being constructed around the estuary of
three Singapore rivers, creating by 2009 a huge freshwater reservoir,
the Marina Bay reservoir. When developed, this will increase
the rainfall catchment to two-thirds of the country's surface area.
Historically, Singapore relied on imports from Malaysia to supply
half of its water consumption. However, the two water agreements
that supply Singapore with this water are due to expire by 2011
and 2061 respectively and the two countries are engaged in a dispute
on the price of water. Without a resolution in sight, the government
of Singapore decided to increase self-sufficiency in its water supply.
Main article: Transport in Singapore
The Port of Singapore with Sentosa island in the background.
Singapore is a major Asian transportation hub, positioned on many
sea and air trade routes.
The Port of Singapore, managed by port operators PSA International
and Jurong Port, was the world's busiest port in 2005 in terms of
shipping tonnage handled, at 1.15 billion gross tons, and in terms
of containerised traffic, at 23.2 million twenty-foot equivalent
units (TEUs). It was also the world's second busiest in terms of
cargo tonnage, coming behind Shanghai with 423 million tons handled.
In addition, the Port is the world's busiest for transshipment traffic
and the world's biggest ship refuelling centre.
PSA KeppelSingapore is an aviation hub for the Southeast Asian region
and a stopover on the Kangaroo route between Australasia and Europe.
Singapore Changi Airport has a network of 81 airlines connecting
Singapore to 185 cities in 58 countries. It has been rated as one
of the best international airports by international travel magazines,
including being rated as the world's best airport for the first
time in 2006 by Skytrax.. The airport currently has three passenger
terminals. There is also a budget terminal, which serves budget
carrier Tiger Airways and Cebu Pacific. The national carrier is
Singapore Airlines (SIA). The government is moving towards privatising
Singapore is linked to Johor, Malaysia via the Johor-Singapore
Causeway and the Tuas Second Link, as well as a railway operated
by Keretapi Tanah Melayu of Malaysia, with its southern terminus
at Tanjong Pagar railway station. Frequent ferry service to several
nearby Indonesian ports also exists.
A C751B train at Eunos MRT Station on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
system, one of three heavy rail passenger transport lines in Singapore.
The domestic transport infrastructure has a well-connected island-wide
road transport system which includes a network of expressways. The
public road system is served by the nation's bus service and a number
of licensed taxi-operating companies. The public bus transport has
been the subject of criticism by Singaporeans, the majority of whom
are dependent on it for their daily commuting, but suffer from its
infrequency, poor scheduling and the buses' sometimes less-than-desirable
Since 1987, the heavy rail passenger Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) metro
system has been in operation. MRT has been further augmented by
the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) light rail system, which provides
service to housing estates. Established in 2001, EZ-Link system
allows contactless smartcards to serve as stored value tickets for
use in the public transport systems in Singapore.
More than 2.78 million people use the bus network daily, while
more than 1.3 million people use either the LRT or MRT as part of
their daily routine. Approximately 991,000 people use the taxi
services daily. Private vehicle use in the Central Area is discouraged
by tolls implemented during hours of heavy road traffic, through
an Electronic Road Pricing system. Private vehicle ownership is
discouraged by high vehicle taxes and imposing quotas on vehicle