Singapore was founded as a British trading colony in 1819. It joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963. Two years later, it separated and became independent. Singapore is made up of a main island, which is connected to southern tip of Malaysia by a causeway and a bridge, and about 50 smaller islands.
Singapore is one of the world’s most prosperous countries with strong international trading. Singapore’s GDP is equal to that of the leading Western European countries. It is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and is often referred to as one of Asia’s economic “tigers.” Singapore’s economy has been able to face the worst regional crises: the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2003 SARS virus outbreak. The country’s economic growth is powered by electronics manufacturing and financial services. Due to competition from neighboring countries, Singapore is now attempting to grow its services sector and tourism industry.
Although a multi-party democracy, The People’s Action Party (PAP) has been the main force in Singapore’s politics since its independence. The government maintains a very strict system of punishments for acts that are considered anti-social. Singapore’s judiciary applies death penalty laws for drug trafficking offenses. The government claims that capital punishment has curtailed the illegal drugs business. The government encourages citizens to be courteous, speak better English and have more children.
Unlike in Malaysia, Chinese make up more than 75 percent of the Singaporeans. Malays and people of Indian origin make up the rest. The country also has a large pool of foreign workers.
Sources: BBC, The Economist, International Crisis Group, CIA World Factbook.
Republic of Singapore
Form of Government:
Year of Independence:
1965 (from Malaysian Federation)
Buddhist 42.5%, Muslim 14.9%, Taoist 8.5%, Hindu 4%, Catholic 4.8%, other Christian 9.8%, other 0.7%, none 14.8% (2000 census)
660 sq km (255 sq miles)
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)
79 years (men), 85 years (women) (2009 est.)
1 Singapore dollar = 100 cents
Computer equipment, machinery, electronics, rubber products, petroleum products, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, mineral fuels
GDP - Per Capita (PPP):
$52,000 (2008 est.)
International Dialing Code: