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Singapore facts and history in brief

Southeast Asia

Singapore facts & history in brief

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.

Republik Singapura
National motto: Majulah Singapura (Malay: Onward, Singapore)
Official languages; English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil
National language; Malay
Capital; Singapore
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, 1965
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 settlement.
The British surrendered Singapore to Japan during World War II, and it was returned to British administration in 1945.
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 republic.
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 market economy.

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 sector.
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 hub.

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 north.
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 anthem.
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 speakers.
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 fined;
car ownership is curbed through a government scheme in which residents must bid for a Certificate of Entitlement (COE)
eating and drinking on buses and metro trains (also known as the Mass Rapid Transit system) also carries heavy fines;
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 cable.
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 sentence.
Homosexual penetration is illegal.

External Links

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore"

This information was updated & correct in December 2003    E. & O.E.

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
(see Copyrights for details).
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