Singapore facts & history
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Republic of Singapore (Chinese; Xinjiapo Gongheguo;
Malay; Republik Singapura; Tamil; Cingkappura Kudiyaracu),
is an island city-state in Southeast Asia, situated
south of the state of Johor of Peninsular Malaysia and
north of the Indonesian islands of Riau.
National motto: Majulah Singapura (Malay: Onward,
Official languages; English, Mandarin Chinese,
Malay and Tamil
National language; Malay
President; SR Nathan
Prime Minister; Goh Chok Tong
Area; 692.7 kmē
Population; 4,608,595 (July 2003 est.)
Independence; - Date From Malaysia August 9,
Currency; Singapore Dollar (S$)
Time zone; UTC +8
National anthem; Majulah Singapura
Internet TLD; .SG
Phone Calling code; 65
Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 as a British trading
The British surrendered Singapore to Japan during World
War II, and it was returned to British administration
Self-government was granted by the British in 1959.
In 1963 Singapore joined Malaysia but separated from
Malaysia in 1965 and was re-instituted as an independent
It has subsequently become one of the world's most prosperous
countries, with strong international trading links (its
port is one of the world's busiest) and with per capita
GDP above that of the leading nations of Western Europe.
During the early years, it was led by prime minister
Lee Kuan Yew, whose policies were responsible for Singapore's
prosperity and authoritarianism.
Singapore has a Westminster-style constitution.
In practice, politics is dominated by the People's Action
Party which has ruled since Independence.
The mode of government is perhaps closer to authoritarianism
than true democracy.
Paradoxically (for political scientists), Singapore
has a highly successful, corruption-free, and transparent
Singapore enjoys a highly developed and successful free-market
economy, characterised by a remarkably open and corruption-free
environment, stable prices, and one of the highest per
capita GDPs in the world.
The economy depends heavily on exports, particularly
in electronics and manufacturing, and was hard hit in
2001 by the global recession and the slump in the technology
In 2001, GDP contracted by 2.2%.
The economy is expected to recover in 2002 in response
to improvements in the US economy, and GDP growth for
2002 is projected to be 3% to 4%.
In the longer term the government hopes to establish
a new growth path that will be less vulnerable to the
external business cycle than the current export-led
model, but is unlikely to abandon efforts to establish
Singapore as Southeast Asia's financial and high-tech
Singapore's main territory is a diamond-shaped piece
of land that would be an island, if it was not connected
to the Malay Peninsula by a man-made causeway to the
There is also a bridge to the west.
Singapore also has dozens of smaller islands, of which
Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa
are the largest.
Since Singapore basically consists of only one city,
there are no further administrative divisions.
Apart from the much smaller Monaco, Singapore is the
most densely populated independent country in the world.
Singapore's population is diverse.
Chinese people account for 3/4 of the population.
Malays are the second largest ethnic group and were
the indigenous or native group of the country.
Indians are the third largest ethnic group.
The official languages are English, Mandarin (Chinese),
Malay and Tamil.
Malay is also Singapore's national language but it has
truly no national role, being the language of the national
The ruling party since independence, the PAP has not
done anything to lift the usage and position of the
Malay language which is restricted largely to its native
The non-Malay populations including the Chinese majority
and the Indian minority, except for a few, do not speak
it despite it being the national language.
Note: Wikipedia does not give legal advice
Laws are often strict (there is a saying "Everything
that is fun is illegal in Singapore"), with a slight
tendency to relax some laws, e.g.:
the sale of chewing gum is forbidden although chewing
the gum is not;
discarding a candy wrapper on the street is heavily
car ownership is curbed through a government scheme
in which residents must bid for a Certificate of Entitlement
eating and drinking on buses and metro trains (also
known as the Mass Rapid Transit system) also carries
vandalism is punished by mandatory caning, introduced
after campaign posters of political candidates were
drawn over with fangs dripping blood.
There is tough censorship: Pornography is not allowed;
depiction of sex and nudity is restricted, e.g. Playboy
is not allowed; if allowed at all, the sex and nudity
must be relevant to the context (even Cosmopolitan Magazine
was banned until recently);
Private ownership of satellite dishes is banned, and
international TV broadcasts can only be received by
Certain political material is not allowed;
material which may disturb religious and racial harmony
is not allowed;
There is some internet censorship, but it is only half-hearted,
100 sites are blocked, the block can be bypassed.
Drugs laws are very strict; anyone caught with 13-14
g (0.5 ounces) of heroin, 28 g (1 ounce) of morphine
or 480 g (17 ounces) of cannabis faces a mandatory death
Homosexual penetration is illegal.
This information was updated & correct in December
2003 E. & O.E.
All text is available under the terms of the
Free Documentation License
Copyrights for details).
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