Singapore -- Geography --
Official Name: Republic of Singapore
Capital City: Singapore City
Official Currency: Singapore Dollar(SGD)
Religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Shenism, Christians, Catholics, others
Land Area: 707,1 sq km
Landforms: Singapore is an island country located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula.Singapore's land area grew from 581.5 km? in the 1960s to 704 km? today, and may grow by another 100 km? by 2030.About 23% of Singapore's land area consists of forest and nature reserves.
Singapore -- History --
The name Singapore comes from the Malay words Singa and Pura, which in turn comes from the Sanskrit words singa ("lion") and ??? pura ("city").
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.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.
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 on 6 February 1819 to develop the southern part of Singapore as a British trading post and settlement. Until August 1824, Singapore was still a territory controlled by a Malay Ruler. Singapore only officially became a British colony in August 1824 when the British extended control over the whole island. John Crawfurd, the second resident of Singapore, was the one who made Singapore a British possession.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.
During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Malaya, culminating in the Battle of Singapore.The Japanese renamed Singapore Shonanto and occupied it until the British repossessed the island on 12 September 1945, a month after the Japanese surrender.
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 left 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.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 Jemaah Islamiyah after the September 11 attacks.
Singapore -- Economy --
The Singapore economy is an example of a vibrant free-market economy that is developing at a rapid pace. The per-capita income of the country is very high and it has been supported and strengthened by a corruption-free environment, an educated and motivated workforce, and well-established legal and financial business framework. Singapore’s economy is heavily dependent on export activities. The main goods that exported from the country are high-tech products such as semiconductors and consumer electronics. In recent years, the Singapore government has invested heavily in diversifying the economy. This has led to growth in the tourism industry, the pharmaceutical industry with a particular focus on biotechnology, financial services, education, multimedia, retail and leisure, and the medical technology industry. In a further bid to boost Singapore’s economic prospects, the government approved the creation of two integrated resorts with casino licenses, the first to be granted in the republic. The first license was awarded to Marina Bay Sands, a more business-focused integrated resort (IR) with extensive convention facilities. The second license was awarded to Resorts World at Sentosa, a family-oriented IR. The Marina Bay Sands IR will draw over $5 billion in investment and will open in 2009, while Resorts World at Sentosa will open in 2011. The IRs are expected to generate 35,000 jobs.
The awarding of casino licenses is a direct response to the growth of the gambling industry in Asia. In 2007, Macau overtook Las Vegas as the biggest casino center in the world, and casino revenues will continue to soar as ever more wealth is created in Asia, a continent with a long history of gambling.
The economic strategy that is followed by the country is successful enough to provide it with steady real growth rates. During the period between 2000 and 2003, the economy of the country was hit by a global economic slump, recession in economies of the US and other European Union countries, and SARS.
After absorbing these major shocks, Singapore’s economy recovered well, and in 2007, it recorded 7.5% in real growth of its GDP.
Singapore has 14 bilateral and multilateral trade agreements:
ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA)
EFTA (European Free Trade Association: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland)
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
Singapore -- Culture --
Singapore is a cosmopolitan society where people live harmoniously and interaction among different races are commonly seen. The pattern of Singapore stems from the inherent cultural diversity of the island. The immigrants of the past have given the place a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences, all of which have intermingled.Each racial group has its own distinctive religion and there are colorful festivals of special significance all year round. Although the festivals are special to certain races, it is nonetheless enjoyed by all.
In Singapore, food is also readily and widely available. There are lots of cuisines to offer. We have, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian and Western, Italian, Peranakan, Spanish, French, Thai and even Fusion. It is very common to savour other culture's food and some of the food can be very intriguing. Indian food are relatively spicier, whereas Chinese food is less spicier and the Chinese enjoy seafood. Malay cooking uses coconut milk as their main ingredient, that makes their food very tasty.
Religion in Singapore
Most Singaporeans celebrate the major festivals associated with their respective religions. The variety of religions is a direct reflection of the diversity of races living there. The Chinese are predominantly followers of Buddhism, Taoism, Shenism, Christians, Catholics and some considered as 'free-thinkers' (Those who do not belong to any religion). Malays have the Muslims and Indians are Hindus. There is a sizeable number of Muslims and Sikhs in the Indian population.
Religious tolerance is essential in Singapore. In fact, religions often cross racial boundaries and some even merge in unusual ways in this modern country. Younger Singaporeans tend to combine a little of the mysteries of the older generation with the realistic world that they know of today.
Religion is still an integral part of the cosmopolitan Singapore. Many of its most interesting buildings are religious, be it old temples, modern churches, or exotic mosques. An understanding of these buildings do play a part in contributing to the appreciation of their art.
The Malays in Singapore are Muslims. A few of the Indians are also Muslims, but even more uncommon are the Chinese Muslims.
Islam has a fundamental influence in the lives of those who follow the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad. The religion involves praying five times a day, eating only "halal" food, fasting during Ramadan, and going to Mecca on the Haj (pilgrimage). Halal food means food that has been specially prepared as according to the religion's dietary requirements.
As the Indian immigrants migrate to Singapore, they brought with them Hinduism. The early temples are still the central points of rituals and festivals, which are held throughout the year.
One will be able to find Christian churches of all denominations in Singapore. They were actually established with the arrival of various missionaries after the coming of Sir Stamford Raffles. Together with Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, Christianity is considered one of the four main religions today. There is quite a large number of Christians on the island.
Minority faiths are not forgotten. There are at least two synagogues for the Jews and Sikhs. The Zoroastrians and Jains are also represented in Singapore.
The four official languages of Singapore are Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English. English is the most common language used and is the language which unites the different ethnic groups. Children are taught in English at school but also learn their mother tongue to make sure they don't lose contact with their traditions.
Singapore English usually come from other languages spoken in Singapore, especially Malay and Hokkien. Speakers of Singlish are not necessarily aware of which language they are from however.
Singapore -- Political system, law and government --
Singapore is a parliamentary democracy 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, currently Lee Hsien Loong. 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.
The Members of Parliament (MPs) consist of either elected, non-constituency or nominated Members. The majority of the Members of Parliament are elected into Parliament at a General Election on a first-past-the-post basis and represent either Single Member or Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs).
The elected Members of Parliament act as a bridge between the community and the Government by ensuring that the concerns of their constituents are heard in the Parliament. The present Parliament has 94 Members of Parliament consisting of 84 elected Members of Parliament, one NCMP and nine Nominated members of Parliament.
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.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.