Singapore is a small island nation with over five million people, separated from the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia by the Straits of Jabor. It is the focal point for Southeast Asian sea routes
Major environmental issues of Singapore include:
- industrial water pollution;
- limited natural freshwater resources;
- loss of tidelands from man-made fill;
- limited land availability presenting waste disposal problems; and,
- seasonal smoke/air pollution resulting from forest burning in Indonesia.
The earliest documented inhabitation of Singapore dates to the second century AD, when it was an outliying element of the Sumatran Srivijava empire.
The Englishman Thomas Stamford Raffles came to Singapore and entered into an agreement with sultan Hussein Shah; Raffles represented the British East India Company, who sought to improve the southern elements of Singapore. Singapore was then founded as a British trading colony in 1819. By 1824 the entirety of Singapore evolved into a British Crown Possession. The population of Singapore reached a level of 100,000 by the year 1869.
Japan invaded Singapore early in World War II, but Britain regained control after the Japanese surrender. It joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 but separated two years later and became independent. Great Britain granted independence to Singapore in 1969.
Singapore subsequently became one of the world's most prosperous countries with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world's busiest in terms of tonnage handled) and with per capita GDP equal to that of the leading nations of Western Europe.
Disputes persist with Malaysia over deliveries of freshwater to Singapore, Singapore's extensive land reclamation works, bridge construction, and maritime boundaries in the Johor and Singapore Straits.
The nation of Singapore consists of 63 separate islands situated in Southeast Asia between Malaysia and Indonesia. It is a focal point for Southeast Asian sea routes. The largest island, which is also the chief population centre, is known as Pulau Ujong. Other islands of significant size are Sentosa, Pulau Tekong, pulau Ubin and Jurong Island. Two human contructed causeways connect Singapore to the Malay Peninsula. Ongoing fill of tidelands and wetlands has increased the land area of singapore by about 20 percent over the last half century, and may increase the national land area by a further 10 percent by the year 2035.
Geographic Coordinates: 1 22 N, 103 48 E
Area:697 km2 ( 687 km2 land and 10 km2 water)
Land Boundaries: None
Coastline: 193 km
Maritime Claims: Territorial sea: three nautical miles. Eexclusive fishing zone:within and beyond territorial sea, as defined in treaties and practise.
Natural Hazards: None
Terrain: Lowland topography; gently undulating central plateau contains water catchment area and the Bukit Timah nature preserve, the chief remaining intact rainforest in Singapore. The highest point of the nation isBukit Timah (166 m).
Because of its location close to the equator, there is little temperature distinction among the seasons; however, there is a pronounced change in wind and rainfall, dominated by the winter monsoon regime extending from November to January. Year around the temperature varies diurnally from 22 to 32 degrees Celsius, with the lower value occurring at night. Humidity is quite high all year long, with characteristic afternoon relative humitity levels of about 73 percent. The months of July to October typically bring a visibility recing smoke haze from slash-and-burn activity in Indonesia.
Tropical; hot, humid, rainy; two distinct monsoon seasons - Northeastern monsoon (December to March) and Southwestern monsoon (June to September); inter-monsoon - frequent afternoon and early evening thunderstorms
Ecology and Biodiversity
People and Society
Population: 5,353,494 (July 2012 est.)
Singapore is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The annual population growth rate for 2011 was 2.1%, including resident foreigners. Singapore has a varied linguistic, cultural, and religious heritage. Malay is the national language, but Chinese, English, and Tamil also are official languages. English is the language of administration and also is widely used in the professions, businesses, and schools.
The government has mandated that English be the primary language used at all levels of the school systems, and it aims to provide at least 10 years of education for every child. In 2010, primary and secondary school students totaled about 478,294, or 9.4% of the entire population. In 2010, enrollment at public universities was 74,534 (full-time/part-time) and 83,542 at the polytechnics. The Institute of Technical Education for basic technical and commerce skills has 24,789 students. The country's literacy rate is 95.9%.
Singapore generally allows religious freedom, although religious groups are subject to government scrutiny, and some religious sects are restricted or banned. Almost all Malays are Muslim; other Singaporeans are Taoists, Buddhists, Confucianists, Christians, Hindus, or Sikhs.
Ethnic groups: Chinese 76.8%, Malay 13.9%, Indian 7.9%, other 1.4% (2000 census)
0-14 years: 13.8% (male 338,419/female 314,704)
15-64 years: 77% (male 1,774,444/female 1,874,985)
65 years and over: 9.2% (male 196,101/female 242,084) (2011 est.)
Population Growth Rate: 1.993% (2012 est.)
Birthrate: 7.72 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death Rate: 3.41 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net Migration Rate: 15.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Urbanization: 100% of total population (2011)
Life Expectancy at Birth: 83.75 years
male: 81.47 years
female: 86.2 years (2012 est.)
Total Fertility Rate: 0.78 children born/woman (2012 est.)
Languages: Mandarin 35%, English 23%, Malay 14.1%, Hokkien 11.4%, Cantonese 5.7%, Teochew 4.9%, Tamil 3.2%, other Chinese dialects 1.8%, other 0.9% (2000 census)
Literacy: 92.5% (male:96.6%, female:88.6%) (2000 census)
Although Singapore's history dates from the 11th century, the island was little known to the West until the 19th century, when in 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived as an agent of the British East India Company. In 1824, the British purchased Singapore Island, and by 1825, the city of Singapore had become a major port, with trade exceeding that of Malaya's Malacca and Penang combined. In 1826, Singapore, Penang, and Malacca were combined as the Straits Settlements to form an outlying residency of the British East India Company; in 1867, the Straits Settlements were made a British Crown Colony, an arrangement that continued until 1946.
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the advent of steamships launched an era of prosperity for Singapore as transit trade expanded throughout Southeast Asia. In the 20th century, the automobile industry's demand for rubber from Southeast Asia and the packaging industry's need for tin helped make Singapore one of the world's major ports.
In 1921, the British constructed a naval base, which was soon supplemented by an air base. But the Japanese captured the island in February 1942, and it remained under their control until September 1945, when the British returned.
In 1946, the Straits Settlements was dissolved; Penang and Malacca became part of the Malayan Union, and Singapore became a separate British Crown Colony. In 1959, Singapore became self-governing, and, in 1963, it joined the newly independent Federation of Malaya, Sabah, and Sarawak--the latter two former British Borneo territories--to form Malaysia.
Indonesia adopted a policy of "confrontation" against the new federation, charging that it was a "British colonial creation," and severed trade with Malaysia. The move particularly affected Singapore, since Indonesia had been the island's second-largest trading partner. The political dispute was resolved in 1966, and Indonesia resumed trade with Singapore.
After a period of friction between Singapore and the central government in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore separated from Malaysia on August 9, 1965, and became an independent republic.
The ruling political party in Singapore, reelected continuously since 1959, is the People's Action Party (PAP), headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The PAP has held the overwhelming majority of seats in Parliament since 1966, when the opposition Barisan Sosialis Party (Socialist Front), a left-wing group that split off from the PAP in 1961, resigned from Parliament, leaving the PAP as the sole representative party. In the general elections of 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980, the PAP won all of the seats in an expanding Parliament.
Then-Workers' Party Secretary General J.B. Jeyaretnam (who died in 2008) became the first opposition party member of Parliament in 15 years when he won a 1981 by-election. Opposition parties gained small numbers of seats in the general elections of 1984 (2 out of 79), 1988 (1 of 81), 1991 (4 of 81), 1997 (2 of 83), 2001 (2 of 84), 2006 (2 of 84), and 2011 (6 of 87). Meanwhile, the PAP's share of the popular vote in contested seats decreased from 75% in 2001 to 60.1% in 2011. In the 2011 election, opposition parties together contested 82 of the 87 seats, the largest number ever.
Government Type: Parliamentary republic
According to the constitution, as amended in 1965, Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government. Political authority rests with the prime minister and the cabinet. The prime minister is the leader of the political party or coalition of parties having the majority of seats in Parliament. The president, who is chief of state, previously exercised only ceremonial duties. As a result of 1991 constitutional changes, the president is now supposed to be elected and exercises expanded powers over legislative appointments, government budgetary affairs, and internal security matters. The last presidential election was in August 2011.
The unicameral Parliament consists of 87 members elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage, and up to nine "nominated" members of Parliament (NMPs). In addition, a constitutional provision assures at least nine opposition members in Parliament, even if fewer than nine actually are elected; these are known as non-constituency members of Parliament (NCMPs). The president appoints nominated members of Parliament from among nominations by a special selection committee. Nominated members of Parliament enjoy the same privileges as members of Parliament but cannot vote on constitutional matters or expenditures of funds. The maximum term of Parliament is 5 years. NMPs serve for 2½-year terms. In the May 7, 2011 general election, the governing People's Action Party (PAP) won 81 of the 87 elective seats of the 12th Parliament. The opposition Workers' Party won the remaining six seats. There are three NCMPs in the 12th Parliament, two from the Workers' Party and one from the Singapore People’s Party. Voting has been compulsory since 1959.
Independence Date: 9 August 1965 (from Malaysian Federation)
Legal System: Based on English common law. Singapore has not submitted an International Court of Justice jurisdiction declaration; and is a non-party state to the ICCt. Judicial power is vested in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The High Court exercises original criminal and civil jurisdiction in serious cases as well as appellate jurisdiction from subordinate courts. Its chief justice, senior judge, and 12 judges are appointed by the president. Appeals from the High Court are heard by the Court of Appeal. The right of appeal to the Privy Council in London was abolished effective April 1994.
Telecommunications and Internet facilities are state-of-the-art, providing high-quality communications with the rest of the world. Singapore is rolling out a nationwide broadband network that promises high-speed Internet connections at lower prices. Sixty percent of the country was covered as of the end of 2010. Eighty-one percent of the country’s inhabitants have household Internet access. Government-linked companies and organizations operate all domestic broadcast television channels and almost all radio stations. Only one radio station, the BBC World Service, is completely independent. Cable subscribers have access to numerous foreign news channels. The print media is dominated by a company with close ties to the government. Daily newspapers are published in English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.
International Environmental Agreements
Singapore is party to international agreements on:Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
The city of Singapore (center of image), which now encompasses the whole island of Singapore, may be seen in this northeast-looking view. Singapore has a large natural harbor and is strategically located on the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula between the Strait of Malacca to the west (extreme bottom left), and the South China Sea to the east (not visible). Image courtesy of NASA.
Total Renewable Water Resources: 0.6 cu km (1975)
Freshwater Withdrawal: Total:0.19 cu km/yr (45% domestic, 51% industrial, 4% agricultural). Per capita:44 cu m/yr (1975)
Agricultural products: Orchids, vegetables; poultry, eggs; fish, ornamental fish.
Irrigated Land: None
Natural Resources: Fish, deepwater ports.
Singapore's strategic location on major sea lanes and its industrious population have given the country an economic importance in Southeast Asia disproportionate to its small size. Upon independence in 1965, Singapore was faced with a lack of physical resources and a small domestic market. In response, the Singapore Government adopted a pro-business, pro-foreign investment, export-oriented economic policy framework, combined with state-directed investments in strategic government-owned corporations. Singapore's economic strategy proved a success, producing real growth that averaged 8.0% from 1965 to 2010. The worldwide electronics slump in 2001 and the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 dealt blows to the economy, but growth bounced back each time, driven by world demand for electronics, pharmaceuticals, other manufactured goods, and financial services, particularly in the economies of its major trading partners--the United States, the European Union, Japan, and China, as well as expanding emerging markets such as India. The global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 had a sharp impact on Singapore's open, trade-oriented economy. Singapore saw its worst two quarters of contraction in late 2008 and early 2009, but quickly recovered with strong performance in later quarters. The Singapore economy grew a staggering 14.5% in 2010, the second-highest rate in the world that year. Growth continued at 4.9% in 2011, on the strength of renewed exports. Over the longer term, the government hopes to establish a new growth path that focuses on raising productivity, which has sunk to a compound annual growth rate of just 1.8% in the last decade. Singapore has attracted major investments in pharmaceuticals and medical technology production and will continue efforts to establish Singapore as Southeast Asia's financial and high-tech hub.
Singapore's largely corruption-free government, skilled work force, and advanced and efficient infrastructure have attracted investments from more than 7,000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe. Also present are 1,500 companies from China and another 1,500 from India. Foreign firms are found in almost all sectors of the economy. Multinational corporations account for more than two-thirds of manufacturing output and direct export sales, although certain services sectors remain dominated by government-linked companies.
Manufacturing (including construction) and services are the twin engines of the Singapore economy and accounted for 26.7% and 67.5%, respectively, of Singapore's gross domestic product in 2010. The electronics and biomedical manufacturing industries lead Singapore's manufacturing sector, accounting for 31.4% and 19.6%, respectively, of Singapore's manufacturing output in 2010. To inject new life to the tourism sector, the government in April 2005 approved the development of two casinos that resulted in investments of more than U.S. $5 billion. Las Vegas Sands' Marina Bay Sands Resort and Genting International's Resort World Sentosa opened their doors in early 2010.
To maintain its competitive position despite rising wages, the government seeks to promote higher value-added activities in the manufacturing and services sectors. It also has opened, or is in the process of opening, the financial services, telecommunications, and power generation and retailing sectors to foreign service-providers and greater competition. The government also has pursued cost-cutting measures, including tax cuts and wage and rent reductions, to lower the cost of doing business in Singapore. The government is actively negotiating eight free trade agreements (FTAs) with emerging economic partners and has already concluded 18 FTAs with many of its key trade partners, including one with the United States that came into force January 1, 2004. As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore is part of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), and is signatory to ASEAN FTAs with China, Korea, Japan, India, and a joint agreement with New Zealand and Australia. Singapore is also a party to the Transpacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, which includes Brunei, Chile, and New Zealand.
Trade, Investment, and Aid
Singapore's total trade in 2010 amounted to $661.58 billion, up 20.7% from 2009. In 2010, Singapore's imports totaled $310.39 billion, and exports totaled $351.18 billion. Malaysia was Singapore's main import source country, as well as its largest export market, absorbing 11.9% of Singapore's exports, followed by Hong Kong (11.7%). Other major export markets include the United States (6.4%), China (10.3%), and Indonesia (9.4%). Singapore was the 13th-largest trading partner of the United States in 2010. Re-exports accounted for 48.1% of Singapore's total sales to other countries in 2010. Singapore's principal exports are petroleum products, food and beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronic components, telecommunication apparatus, and transport equipment. Singapore's main imports are aircraft, crude oil and petroleum products, electronic components, consumer electronics, industrial machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, food and beverages, electricity generators, and iron and steel.
Singapore continues to attract investment funds on a large scale despite its relatively high-cost operating environment. The United States leads in foreign investment, accounting for 15.2% of new actual investment in the manufacturing sector in 2010. As of 2010, the stock of investment by U.S. companies in the manufacturing and services sectors in Singapore reached about $106.04 billion (total assets). The bulk of U.S. investment is in electronics manufacturing and the finance and insurance industries. Non-bank holding companies accounted for 59.2% of total investment. About 2,000 U.S. firms operate in Singapore.
The government also has encouraged firms to invest outside Singapore, with the country's total direct investments abroad reaching $247.06 billion by the end of 2009. China was the top destination, accounting for 17.1% of total overseas investments, followed by the United Kingdom (12.3%), Malaysia (8.4%), Hong Kong (6.3%), Thailand (5.7%), Indonesia (7.7%), Australia (6.8%), and the United States (3.5%).
As of December 2010, Singapore had a total labor force of about 3.1 million. The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), the sole trade union federation, comprises almost 99% of total organized labor. Extensive legislation covers general labor and trade union matters. The Industrial Arbitration Court handles labor-management disputes that cannot be resolved informally through the Ministry of Labor. The Singapore Government has stressed the importance of cooperation between unions, management, and government ("tripartism"), as well as the early resolution of disputes. There have been no strikes since 1986.
Singapore has enjoyed virtually full employment for long periods of time. In tandem with the global economic crisis and the economy’s contraction, resident unemployment reached as high as 4.9%. However, the overall and resident unemployment rates dipped to 2.0% and 2.9%, respectively, by the end of September 2011 due to the Singapore Government’s job-saving measures and a gradually improving global economy. Some of Singapore's unemployment is attributable to structural changes in the economy, as low-skill manufacturing operations have moved overseas. Since 1990, the number of foreign workers in Singapore has increased rapidly, helping meet some labor shortages. Foreign workers comprise 35.8% of the labor force; the great majority of these are unskilled workers.
Transportation and Communications
Situated at the crossroads of international shipping and air routes, Singapore is a center for transportation and communication in Southeast Asia. Singapore's Changi International Airport is a regional aviation hub served by 80 airlines. A third terminal opened in January 2008, and a dedicated low-cost terminal for budget airlines has operated since 2006. The Port of Singapore is the world's second-busiest for containerized transshipment traffic after Shanghai. The country also is linked by road and rail to Malaysia and Thailand.
GDP: (Purchasing Power Parity): $314.2 billion (2011 est.)
GDP: (Official Exchange Rate): $266.5 billion (2011 est.)
GDP- per capita (PPP): $59,900 (2011 est.)
GDP- composition by sector:
services: 73.4% (2011 est.)
Industries: Electronics, chemicals, financial services, oil drilling equipment, petroleum refining, rubber processing and rubber products, processed food and beverages, ship repair, offshore platform construction, life sciences, entrepot trade.
Currency: Singapore dollars (SGD)