Singaporean, n., adj.
/sing"geuh pawr', -pohr', sing"euh-/, n.
1. an island on the Strait of Singapore, off the S tip of the Malay Peninsula.
2. an independent republic comprising this island and a few adjacent islets: member of the Commonwealth of Nations; formerly a British crown colony (1946-59) and member of the federation of Malaysia (1963-65). 3,461,929; 220 sq. mi. (570 sq. km). Cap.: Singapore.
3. a seaport in and the capital of this republic. 1,400,000.

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Introduction Singapore
Background: Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963, but withdrew two years later and became independent. It subsequently became 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 equal to that of the leading nations of Western Europe. Geography Singapore -
Location: Southeastern Asia, islands between Malaysia and Indonesia
Geographic coordinates: 1 22 N, 103 48 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 692.7 sq km water: 10 sq km land: 682.7 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly more than 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 193 km
Maritime claims: exclusive fishing zone: within and beyond territorial sea, as defined in treaties and practice territorial sea: 3 NM
Climate: tropical; hot, humid, rainy; two distinct monsoon seasons - Northeastern monsoon from December to March and Southwestern monsoon from June to September; inter- monsoon - frequent afternoon and early evening thunderstorms
Terrain: lowland; gently undulating central plateau contains water catchment area and nature preserve
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Singapore Strait 0 m highest point: Bukit Timah 166 m
Natural resources: fish, deepwater ports
Land use: arable land: 1.64% permanent crops: 0% other: 98.36% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: NA Environment - current issues: industrial pollution; limited natural fresh water resources; limited land availability presents waste disposal problems; seasonal smoke/haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: focal point for Southeast Asian sea routes People Singapore
Population: 4,452,732 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.6% (male 404,212; female 378,660) 15-64 years: 75.3% (male 1,630,696; female 1,724,532) 65 years and over: 7.1% (male 137,512; female 177,120) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.46% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 12.78 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 4.28 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 26.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/ female total population: 0.95 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 3.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.29 years female: 83.47 years (2002 est.) male: 77.34 years
Total fertility rate: 1.23 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.19% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 4,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 210 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Singaporean(s) adjective: Singapore
Ethnic groups: Chinese 76.7%, Malay 14%, Indian 7.9%, other 1.4%
Religions: Buddhist (Chinese), Muslim (Malays), Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Taoist, Confucianist
Languages: Chinese (official), Malay (official and national), Tamil (official), English (official)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 93.5% male: 97% female: 89.8% (1999) Government Singapore
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Singapore conventional short form: Singapore
Government type: parliamentary republic
Capital: Singapore Administrative divisions: none
Independence: 9 August 1965 (from Malaysia)
National holiday: Independence Day, 9 August (1965)
Constitution: 3 June 1959, amended 1965 (based on preindependence State of Singapore Constitution)
Legal system: based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Sellapan Rama (S. R.) NATHAN (since 1 September 1999) head of government: Prime Minister Chok Tong GOH (since 28 November 1990) and Deputy Prime Ministers Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Hsien Loong LEE (since 28 November 1990) and Keng Yam Tony TAN (since 1 August 1995) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president, responsible to Parliament elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 28 August 1999 (next to be held by August 2005); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the president; deputy prime ministers appointed by the president election results: Sellapan Rama (S. R.) NATHAN elected president unopposed
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (84 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms); note - in addition, there are up to nine nominated members; the losing opposition candidate who came closet to winning a seat may be appointed as a "nonconstituency" member elections: last held 3 November 2001 (next to be held 25 June 2007) election results: percent of vote by party - PAP 75.3% (in contested constituencies), other 24.7%; seats by party - PAP 82, WP 1, SDA 1
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (chief justice is appointed by the president with the advice of the prime minister, other judges are appointed by the president with the advice of the chief justice); Court of Appeals Political parties and leaders: Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [leader NA]; People's Action Party or PAP [Chok Tong GOH, secretary general] - the governing party; Singapore Democratic Alliance or SDA [CHIAM See Tong] (includes Singapore People's Party or SPP [CHIAM See Tong], Singapore Democratic Party or SDP [CHEE Soon Juan], National Solidarity Party [leader NA], Singapore Justice Party [leader NA], and Singapore Malay National Organization [leader NA]); Workers' Party or WP [J. B. JEYARETNAM] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization APEC, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, BIS, C, CCC,
participation: CP, ESCAP, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNIKOM, UNMEE, UNTAET, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Heng Chee CHAN consulate(s): New York consulate(s) general: San Francisco FAX: [1] (202) 537-0876 telephone: [1] (202) 537-3100 chancery: 3501 International Place NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador
US: Franklin L. LAVIN embassy: 27 Napier Road, Singapore 258508 mailing address: PSC Box 470, FPO AP 96534-0001 telephone: [65] 476-9100 FAX: [65] 476-9340
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white; near the hoist side of the red band, there is a vertical, white crescent (closed portion is toward the hoist side) partially enclosing five white five- pointed stars arranged in a circle Economy Singapore -
Economy - overview: Singapore, a highly developed and successful free-market economy, enjoys 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.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $106.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -2.2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $24,700 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NEGL% industry: 33% services: 67% (2001 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 2.19 million (2000) Labor force - by occupation: financial, business, and other services 35%, manufacturing 21%, construction 13%, transportation and communication 9%, other 22%
Unemployment rate: 4.7% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $27.9 billion expenditures: $19.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $5.4 billion (FY00/01 est.)
Industries: electronics, chemicals, financial services, oil drilling equipment, petroleum refining, rubber processing and rubber products, processed food and beverages, ship repair, entrepot trade, biotechnology Industrial production growth rate: -17.5% (2001 est.) Electricity - production: 27.9 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 25.947 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: rubber, copra, fruit, orchids, vegetables; poultry, eggs, fish, ornamental fish
Exports: $122 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: machinery and equipment (including electronics), consumer goods, chemicals, mineral fuels
Exports - partners: Malaysia 18%, US 17%, Hong Kong 8%, Japan 7.5%, Taiwan 6%, Thailand 4.3%, China 4%, South Korea 3.6%, Germany 3%, Netherlands 3% (2000)
Imports: $116 billion (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs
Imports - partners: Japan 17%, Malaysia 17%, US 15%, China 5%, Taiwan 4.4%, Thailand 4.3%, South Korea 3.6%, Saudi Arabia 3% (2000)
Debt - external: $8.3 billion (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD)
Currency code: SGD
Exchange rates: Singapore dollars per US dollar - 1.8388 (January 2002), 1.7917 (2001), 1.7240 (2000), 1.6950 (1999), 1.6736 (1998), 1.4848 (1997)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March Communications Singapore Telephones - main lines in use: 1.95 million (2000) Telephones - mobile cellular: 2.74 million (2000)
Telephone system: general assessment: major consideration given to serving business interests; excellent international service domestic: excellent domestic facilities international: submarine cables to Malaysia (Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia), Indonesia, and the Philippines; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean), and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific Ocean region) Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 16, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 2.6 million (2000) Television broadcast stations: 6 (2000)
Televisions: 1.33 million (1997)
Internet country code: .sg Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 9 (2000)
Internet users: 2.12 million (2001) Transportation Singapore
Railways: total: 38.6 km narrow gauge: 38.6 km 1.000-m gauge note: there is also a 83 km mass transit system with 48 stations
Highways: total: 3,150 km paved: 3,066 km (including 150 km of expressways) unpaved: 84 km (2000)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Singapore
Merchant marine: total: 876 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 20,686,612 GRT/32,647,743 DWT ships by type: bulk 131, cargo 100, chemical tanker 81, combination bulk 10, combination ore/oil 6, container 168, liquefied gas 35, livestock carrier 2, multi-functional large- load carrier 1, petroleum tanker 287, refrigerated cargo 6, roll on/ roll off 5, short-sea passenger 1, specialized tanker 11, vehicle carrier 32 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Australia 7, Belgium 6, China 12, Denmark 27, Germany 17, Greece 4, Hong Kong 44, Indonesia 8, Japan 52, Malaysia 4, Monaco 22, Netherlands 2, Norway 42, Philippines 6, Russia 3, Slovenia 1, South Korea 10, Sweden 13, Switzerland 7, Taiwan 46, Tanzania 2, Thailand 22, United Arab Emirates 4, United Kingdom 14, United States 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 9 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 9 over 3,047 m: 2 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Military Singapore
Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, People's Defense Force, Police Force Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 1,354,857 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 986,101 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $4.47 billion (FY01/02 est.)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 4.9% (FY01/02)
GDP: Transnational Issues Singapore Disputes - international: Singapore and Malaysia are considering taking the unresolved dispute over Pulau Batu Putih (Pedra Branca Island) to ICJ; Malaysia concerned over Singapore's land reclamation works on Johor, which affects the maritime boundary, shipping lanes, and water ecology in the Tebrau Reach
Illicit drugs: as a transportation and financial services hub, Singapore is vulnerable, despite strict laws and enforcement, to use as a transit point for Golden Triangle heroin and as a venue for money laundering

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City (2002 est.: 4,204,000), capital of the Republic of Singapore.

A free port centred on the southern part of Singapore island, it so dominates the island that the republic is now commonly considered a city-state. Known as the Garden City for its many parks and tree-lined streets, it offers glimpses into the cultures brought to it by immigrants from all parts of Asia. Traditionally founded by a Shrivijayan prince, it was an important Malay city in the 13th century. Destroyed by the Javanese in the 14th century, it was refounded by Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company in 1819. It became the capital of the Straits Settlements in 1833 and developed as a port and naval base; today it is one of the world's great commercial centres. Its thriving banking, insurance, and brokerage firms make it the chief trading and financial centre of Southeast Asia. It is home to the National University of Singapore (1980).
officially Republic of Singapore

Island country, Southeast Asia.

Situated off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, it comprises Singapore island and 60 islets. Area: 264 sq mi (683 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 4,204,000. Capital: Singapore. Three-fourths of the people are of Chinese ethnicity; most of the rest are Malays and Indians. Languages: English, Chinese (Mandarin), Malay, Tamil (all official). Religions: primarily Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism; also Islam, Christianity, Hinduism. Currency: Singapore dollar. Nearly two-thirds of the island's hilly landscape lies less than 50 ft (15 m) above sea level; it has a hot, humid climate. Although only about 2% of its land is arable, it is among the most productive fruit and vegetable cropland in the world. The economy is based largely on international trade and finance; there are more than 100 commercial banks, most of which are foreign, and the headquarters of the Asian Dollar Market is located there. The port is one of the largest in the world, and the country is one of the world's leading petroleum refiners. It has the highest per capita income of any Southeast Asian country. Singapore is a republic with one legislative house; its chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Long inhabited by fishermen and pirates, it was an outpost of the Sumatran empire of Shrivijaya until the 14th century, when it passed to Java and then Siam. It became part of the Malacca empire in the 15th century. In the 16th century the Portuguese controlled the area; they were followed by the Dutch in the 17th century. In 1819 it was ceded to the British East India Company, becoming part of the Straits Settlements and the centre of British colonial activity in Southeast Asia. During World War II the Japanese occupied the island (1942–45). In 1946 it became a crown colony. It achieved full internal self-government in 1959, became part of Malaysia in 1963, and gained independence in 1965. Singapore is influential in the affairs of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The country's dominant voice in politics for 30 years after independence was Lee Kuan Yew. Its economy was affected during the Asian economic crises that began in the mid-1990s, but it recovered more easily than many of its neighbours did.

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▪ 2009

707 sq km (273 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 4,839,000
Head of state:
President S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

      In Singapore 2008 would be remembered as a year with more than its regular share of memorable events. In June the city-state recorded its highest population level ever, at nearly 4.84 million. In August citizens rejoiced when three Singaporean table tennis players won the women's team silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games. They were Singapore's first Olympic medalists since 1960. In another first, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delayed by 24 hours the telecast of his annual state of the nation address rather than compete for viewers with the televised final match. The following month the island republic became the site of auto racing's first Formula 1 Grand Prix night race.

      On a more controversial note, February saw the escape of Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari from the Whitley Road Detention Centre. It was the first time that anyone had escaped from the centre, which housed those detained under the Internal Security Act. A national uproar ensued, and there were calls for the resignation of the home affairs minister and for a detailed accounting of the event. A commission of inquiry was set up and reported its findings to Parliament in April.

      Equally controversial was the Ministry of Health's introduction of a law, likely to be passed in 2009, to allow the monetary “reimbursement” of kidney transplant donors. The compensation would cover the donor's costs but would not be enough to induce donations.

       Inflation surged in the first half of the year to a peak of almost 7%, a 25-year high. As the prices of basic foodstuffs such as rice and cooking oil escalated sharply, some hoarding began to take place. By the later part of the year, however, recession had replaced inflation as the biggest worry. Singapore became the first country in Southeast Asia to record a technical recession (defined as two fiscal quarters of contraction) in 2008; its extremely open and trade-dependent economy made it vulnerable to economic slumps in the United States and Europe. The government responded with characteristic swiftness and on November 21 announced a S$2.3 billion (about U.S.$1.5 billion) package to help save jobs and ease access to credit for companies. The measures were also characteristically hard-headed; grants for affected workers would be conditional on the workers' enrollment in courses to learn new skills. Even then the grants would be awarded on a discretionary, case-by-case basis.

Chua Lee Hoong

▪ 2008

704 sq km (272 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 4,564,000
Head of state:
President S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

 For Singaporeans 2007 would be remembered as the year in which the property market finally awoke—with a vengeance—from a five-year slumber. Property fever even found its way into the courtroom when some owners of a high-end residential condominium complex sued another set of owners for not getting a better price for the “en bloc,” or collective, sale of their building to a redeveloper. In particular, the Horizon Towers case, with its star-studded cast of top property firms and top Singaporean lawyers, gripped the country for much of the year and remained unresolved at year's end. Lured by the prospect of becoming millionaires overnight, many other property owners put their buildings on the market for collective sale. Proceeds from these collective sales were estimated to hit S$6 billion (about U.S.$4.1 billion) in 2008.

      Even as the property market surged in 2007 (23% in the first nine months alone, compared with 10% for the entire year in 2006), so too did inflation, to 4.2% in November. While low by international standards, the rate still marked a 25-year high for Singapore and was projected to rise further—to as much as 5% in 2008, on the back of higher oil and food prices. Fears about the economy overheating prompted the government to delay S$2 billion (about U.S.$1.4 billion) of public building projects and to allow the Singapore dollar to appreciate a little to curb imported inflation. Curbs on the hiring of foreign workers were eased to alleviate business costs.

      The thriving economy came at a cost—a widening income gap that the opposition parties wasted no time in exploiting. The government responded by strengthening Workfare, a scheme introduced in 2006 to boost the incomes of low-wage workers. To ensure that poorer Singaporeans would have sufficient funds for retirement, the government planned to introduce a compulsory annuity as part of the government-mandated savings scheme, the Central Provident Fund.

      On the legal front, revisions to the Penal Code, Singapore's colonial-era criminal law, prompted a rare and vehement public debate on homosexuality. While a number of other archaic prohibitions were removed, “acts of gross indecency” between males remained an offense. The government explained its stance as one of a balance between maintaining a stable society with traditional heterosexual family values and making space for homosexuals but said that it would not enforce the law. The conservative majority applauded the retention, but liberals scoffed: What was the point of a law that was never enforced?

Chua Lee Loong

▪ 2007

699 sq km (270 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 4,408,000
Head of state:
President S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

      Singapore found itself in the international headlines more than usual in 2006. When Temasek Holdings, the state investment agency, in January purchased a controlling stake in Shin Corp., a Thai conglomerate owned by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thaksin's political opponents portrayed the sale as antinationalist. Months of protests followed, and Thaksin was ousted on September 19 in a military coup backed by Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej . (See Biographies.)

      News of the coup diverted media attention away from the World Bank– International Monetary Fund meetings, which drew to a close in Singapore on September 20. The event was the biggest international conference ever organized by Singapore. The government was eager for all to go well and said that it would bar 27 individuals, all nongovernmental organization activists. The decision generated much controversy, and eventually Singapore allowed 22 of the barred individuals to attend.

      On the domestic front, drama-starved Singaporeans followed closely the general election on May 6. The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) was led into battle for the first time by Lee Hsien Loong, who had assumed the premiership in 2004. The PAP won 82 of the 84 seats in the parliament, and the status quo was maintained with the opposition retaining its 2 seats. PAP's 66.6% share of the popular vote, however, was down from the 75% it had received in the 2001 balloting. The results showed that the prime minister's coattails alone were no longer sufficient to carry the rest of the relatively inexperienced slate. The opposition Workers' Party was equally surprised that it had not done worse, given its slate of almost all political freshmen.

 Official sanction for casinos in Singapore—an idea that had split the country the previous year—proved a nonissue at the polls, probably because it had been given more than sufficient airing earlier. There would be two major casino resorts in Singapore within the next five years, one in the downtown Marina Bay area, to be run by Las Vegas Sands, and the other on the resort island of Sentosa. The license to run the latter would be awarded at the end of 2006 or in late 2007.

      In July the Kyoto Protocol on climate change took effect in Singapore. Even as officials worked out a national plan to meet its requirements, however, air acrid with hot burned ash—known locally as “haze”—blew into Singapore for weeks in October from Indonesian forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan. High prices for palm oil were apparently driving the rapid conversion of forest into palm-oil plantations.

Chua Lee Hoong

▪ 2006

699 sq km (270 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 4,291,000
Head of state:
President S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

 Two subjects dominated public discourse in Singapore in 2005— casinos and charities. Early in the year, the government overcame a decades-old aversion to casinos to announce that it had decided to allow two to set up operations in the island republic. The reason for the move was to create jobs and help boost tourism. Among Southeast Asian countries, Singapore was not alone in this decision. Thailand indicated that it would do the same. Singapore's closest neighbour, Malaysia, had long had casinos. Still, the decision was vehemently opposed by conservatives, especially on the religious right. The decision even split the cabinet; in an unprecedented break with a tradition of collective responsibility, Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan publicly announced that he was against casinos. Tan retired from politics at the end of 2005 and became chairman of Singapore Press Holdings, the largest publisher of newspapers in the country. Casino licenses were likely to be awarded in 2006.

      A second controversy erupted when a libel suit brought by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF)—Singapore's most successful charity in terms of fund-raising—against the Straits Times newspaper went to court in July. The NKF denied the newspaper's reports of extravagant expenditures at the charity's headquarters, including gold-plated bathroom fixtures in the office of its CEO, T.T. Durai. Two days into the court proceedings, however, Durai acknowledged a host of such expenditures as well as an annual salary of S$600,000 (about U.S.$355,000). The subsequent public furor was exacerbated by the fact that NKF patron Tan Choo Leng—wife of former prime minister Goh Chok Tong—called the salary “peanuts.” Disclosures of the NKF's extravagance prompted housecleaning at other charities and a review of charity governance issues.

      Economic growth was expected to top 5% for the year and to stay in that range for several years. This performance outpaced early official forecasts of 3.5–4.5% for 2005. Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who had assumed the newly created post of minister mentor in 2004, enthused over the positive economic numbers, remarking, “If you ask me, we have never had it more promising.” There was, however, considerable apprehension in the country over the threat posed by avian influenza (bird flu), with the government outlining a Disease Outbreak Response System and stepping up efforts to stockpile antiviral drugs.

      The much-anticipated presidential election scheduled for late August proved an anticlimax as no credible contender to Pres. S.R. Nathan emerged. Singapore's Presidential Elections Committee, responsible for evaluating the eligibility of candidates, rejected all applications save that of Nathan, who was declared the winner without a vote's being taken. Singaporeans looked forward to early 2006, when the next general election was widely expected to be held.

Chua Lee Hoong

▪ 2005

697 sq km (269 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 4,229,000
Head of state:
President S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Goh Chok Tong and, from August 12, Lee Hsien Loong

      Following months of speculation, it was finally announced that on Aug. 12, 2004, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, who had held office since 1990, would hand over power to Lee Hsien Loong (see Biographies (Lee Hsien Loong )), the deputy prime minister and son of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister (1959–90). Goh remained in the cabinet, however, and assumed the position of senior minister, a post hitherto occupied by the elder Lee, who in turn became minister mentor—a new title created to reflect his role. Lee Hsien Loong broke with tradition by having his inauguration outdoors, in a ceremony attended not only by high officials but also by ordinary citizens, such as cooks, students, and shopkeepers.

      A month before the leadership change, Singapore catapulted into the international headlines when then deputy prime minister Lee paid what was billed as a “private and unofficial” visit to Taiwan, with which Singapore had close commercial and military ties but did not officially recognize. Beijing took severe umbrage and demanded “concrete actions” as proof of redress. Singapore insisted that the visit was within its sovereign rights.

      Ties with Taiwan deteriorated soon after, however, when Taipei became angered when Singapore called the Taiwanese push toward independence “dangerous.” In one angry outburst, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Mark Chen called Singapore “a tiny country the size of a piece of snot.”

      On the domestic front, the issue that generated the most debate was whether to have a casino. The idea split the country down the middle, and a consensus appeared unlikely. Meanwhile, the economy improved over that of 2003, with unemployment falling from 4.5% to 3.4% in the third quarter. The struggle to keep jobs within the country remained; the government continued efforts to retrain workers and secure free-trade agreements that would bring down tariff walls and thus increase exports. In the public sector, as part of an efficiency drive that had begun a few years earlier, ministries were asked to cut their staffs by 3% every year for the next three years to bring the head count down to 1996 levels. Ministries that did not comply would have to pay S$10,000 (about $6,000) annually into government coffers for each extra officer they had above the limit.

Lee Hoong Chua

▪ 2004

685 sq km (265 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 4,233,000
Head of state:
President S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong

      The year 2003 was an unusually eventful one for Singapore. For the first time in the 38 years since it gained independence, the country went on a nationwide health alert as the pneumonia-like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) reached its shores in late February, carried by three Singaporeans returning from a holiday in Hong Kong. Daily fever checks, stringent quarantine measures—enforced upon pain of jail—and temperature screening in schools, in workplaces, and at immigration entry points became de rigueur. Thanks to these measures, the outbreak was brought under control three months later. Meanwhile, research into the virus intensified at various laboratories, including the Genome Institute of Singapore. (See Health and Disease: Special Report (What's Next After SARS? ).)

      The bigger battle of the year for Singapore was economic. The country sought to enhance its competitiveness relative to other rival destinations for foreign investments. With an increasing number of both blue- and white-collar jobs having been lost to countries in Asia with lower labour costs, the government moved swiftly to cut wage costs by reducing the employer contribution rates to the Central Provident Fund, a compulsory worker-savings scheme. Corporate taxes were also slashed and government rentals and fees reduced. Accompanying these measures was a parallel effort to spur homegrown entrepreneurship in the hopes that this would reduce the country's dependence on multinationals for job creation. Another push was for new bilateral free-trade agreements with Canada, India, Chile, Mexico, South Korea, Jordan, and Sri Lanka, in addition to those already established with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the European Free Trade Association.

      On the diplomatic front, 2003 marked a high point in Singapore's relations with the United States, thanks to Singapore's support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The Singapore-U.S. free-trade agreement was signed in September, capping almost three years of negotiations. Pres. George W. Bush arrived in late October, the first visit by a U.S. president in 11 years.

      Singapore's relations with Malaysia, its nearest neighbour, sank to a new low, however, as bilateral disputes over the pricing of water Malaysia sold to Singapore mushroomed into rival ad campaigns. A territorial dispute was referred to the International Court of Justice, and another over the effects of land reclamation ended up before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

      The domestic political front was far more placid. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong announced for the first time that he would step down by 2005 and hand over power to Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The next general election was not due until 2007.

Chua Lee Hoong

▪ 2003

683 sq km (264 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 3,322,000 (excluding 808,000 newly arrived nonresidents)
Chief of state:
President S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong

      A year after suffering its worst-ever recession, Singapore experienced a modest economic comeback in 2002. The economy had witnessed double-digit percentage falls throughout the last half of 2001, but 3.9% growth was achieved in the second quarter of 2002—the first expansion in five quarters. The boost was attributed in part to an increase in electronics exports, which had been in a steep slump. While most forecasters were predicting an overall growth rate of between 2% and 4% for Singapore for the year, unemployment was expected to worsen. In fact, the government warned that the jobless rate could rise as high as 6% before the economy made a full recovery.

      Many of Singapore's woes were externally induced. The weakened demand for imports in American and Asian markets posed serious problems for a country whose manufacturing sector was heavily geared toward exports. Singapore was also worried about losing foreign investment to such regional competitors as China and Malaysia. A number of major companies—including shipping giant Maersk Sealand and such prominent investment firms as Merrill Lynch and Goldman, Sachs—had either partially or entirely relocated out of Singapore. In order to ensure that the country remained competitive in the global marketplace, an Economic Review Committee, comprising some 100 business and government leaders, was established in October 2001 and charged with examining how Singapore might restructure its economy. The committee presented its first set of recommendations to Parliament in April 2002. Recommendations included reducing the corporate income tax rate from 24.5% to 20% within three years, reducing personal income tax rates significantly, and offering a broad range of sector-specific tax incentives to help make doing business in Singapore more attractive to companies.

      Some officials blamed the sluggish economy for a surge in crime during the first half of the year, when the overall crime rate increased by 10.4%. Terrorism was also a growing concern. In January the government announced the arrest of 15 persons with suspected links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network and accused them of targeting foreign embassies and military installations. These developments were especially alarming to a country that prided itself on its reputation for law and order.

      By 2002, as part of a general strategy to foster the study of life sciences, Singapore was actively promoting human stem-cell research at a time when the U.S. and other countries were restricting government funding for such research. Singapore's regulatory “open door” to stem-cell research had helped attract some of the world's top scientists to the island and had thereby boosted hopes that Singapore would become one of the global leaders in biotechnology.

Linda Low

▪ 2002

683 sq km (264 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 3,322,000 (excluding 808,000 newly arrived nonresidents)
Chief of state:
President S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong

      Pres. S.R. Nathan formally dissolved the Singaporean Parliament on Oct. 18, 2001, and called for new general elections to be held on November 3, well in advance of an August 2002 deadline. Most observers believed the elections were called early in anticipation of an economic downturn that was sure to reflect badly on the ruling People's Action Party (PAP). A new opposition coalition, made up of four previously unallied parties, emerged to challenge the PAP; among other measures, the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) called for the establishment of a welfare system for the unemployed and a demonstration by the government of greater fiscal responsibility. The SDA proved unable to take advantage of public discontent over the deteriorating economy, however. On election night the PAP won a landslide victory, taking 82 of the 84 parliamentary seats. The opposition complained that tight government control of the media made it difficult, if not impossible, to make serious headway against the PAP. Nonetheless, despite the country's economic woes, Singapore still ranked as one of the wealthiest states in Southeast Asia, and few Singaporeans were willing to risk a change in leadership.

      The country was hit hard by slumping worldwide demand for electronic products, which made up some 60% of Singapore's manufacturing output, and by a downturn in the economies of key trading partners such as the U.S. and Japan. Singapore officially entered a recession in the second quarter, which saw a steep 10% drop in growth figures. Before the election the government unveiled a $6.2 billion stimulus package intended to reactivate the flagging economy. The package allowed for an array of tax cuts and an increase in government spending; at year's end it was still too early to tell whether the measures had begun to have their intended effect.

      Aside from the economy, government officials were alarmed at another serious problem, the country's rapidly declining birthrate, which had fallen to 1.5 children per woman. An estimated 2.5 children per woman were needed to maintain Singapore's current population level. “Let's Get on the Love Wagon,” blared a headline in the national newspaper, and to help in this effort, the government instituted a Baby Bonus Scheme, which, among other incentives, offered monetary rewards to couples who had second and third children.


▪ 2001

660 sq km (255 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 3,278,000
Chief of state:
President S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong

      The annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was held in Singapore in November 2000. During the session Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, who served as chairman of the summit, defended the island republic's drive to strike free-trade deals with non-ASEAN economies—especially China, Japan, and South Korea—independently of the association. Some of the ASEAN member nations that were harder hit than Singapore by the financial crisis that had struck three years earlier claimed that Singapore was out of step and looking out only for its own interests. In response, Goh pointed out that Singapore had launched a special assistance program for Indonesia and had become a donor to the Asian Development Bank's soft-loan program.

      Goh seemed to solidify his hold on power during the year. When he took office in 1990, he had been widely assumed to be a transitional figure. He also operated under the psychological disadvantage of knowing that he would always be in the shadow of his popular predecessor, Lee Kuan Yew, who remained active as a senior minister. By 2000, however, Goh had become one of Southeast Asia's longest-serving elected leaders. In an interview he told reporters that he planned to stay in office at least until the next general election, which had to be held by August 2002.

      Domestically, there were some signs that the government, often criticized for its authoritarian ways, was gradually loosening up. One symbolic gesture was the opening of an officially sanctioned “Speakers' Corner” in downtown Hong Lim Park. Citizens were free to talk about almost any subject without first having to obtain a police permit. As recently as 1999 Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, had been fined for making an unauthorized speech in public.

      One of the more controversial moves by the government was a 13% pay increase for Singapore's civil servants. Goh's annual salary ballooned to about $1.1 million a year—more than three times that of the president of the U.S. The government justified the increase by asserting that high salaries were necessary to attract qualified people from the private sector into government service.

Todd Crowell

▪ 2000

646 sq km (249 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 3,225,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Ong Teng Cheong and, from September 1, S.R. Nathan
Head of government:
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong

      In 1999 Singapore staged a robust recovery from the Asian financial crisis as the economy expanded by 5.6%, compared with just 0.3% in 1998. The country's rebound came on the back of continuing strength in the U.S. market and healthy global demand for electronics. Throughout the year the government sought to improve the country's global competitiveness by further liberalizing key sectors, particularly the banking industry. New financial-system disclosure laws were introduced, and the stock and futures markets merged under one management.

      Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong confirmed that one of his deputies, Brig. Gen. Lee Hsien Loong, the elder son of Goh's predecessor, Lee Kuan Yew, was on track to take over as prime minister sometime after the country's next general election, which was due by 2002. In May Goh reshuffled his Cabinet, with five members swapping jobs. Veteran minister Yeo Cheow Tong dropped the health and environment portfolios to take over the Communications Ministry, which was expanded to include information technology.

      In May Singapore's chief justice reduced fines imposed three months earlier on opposition politicians Chee Soon Juan and Wong Hong Toy for having held an unlicensed public meeting. This meant that the two men remained eligible to campaign for election to Parliament. In July, just weeks before his wife died of cancer, Pres. Ong Teng Cheong announced that he would not seek a second six-year term. He complained that some ministers and officials treated him as a “nuisance” and tested his power as guardian of the national reserves. On September 1 Ambassador-at-Large S.R. Nathan became the country's sixth president. He was elected without a ballot after two other candidates had been declared unqualified to run.

      Relations with Malaysia remained cool. Both countries failed to resolve the standoff over Malaysian shares traded in Singapore under a system known as the Central Limit Order Book and frozen since Malaysia imposed capital and currency controls in September 1998. Singapore threatened to bring the matter to the World Trade Organization (WTO). On the diplomatic front, Singapore served as host to the annual ministerial conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in July. At the WTO meeting in Seattle, Wash., Singapore played a key role in coordinating negotiations on agriculture.

Alejandro Reyes

▪ 1999

      Area: 646 sq km (249 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 3,164,000

      Chief of state: President Ong Teng Cheong

      Head of government: Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong

      For Singapore, 1998 could be summed up as the year of the reality check. Despite the regional economic crisis that had been under way since July 1997, Singapore appeared to be in fairly good shape coming into 1998—at least compared with its neighbours. From the outset of the crisis, Singapore's leaders had repeatedly pronounced that the republic's "sound fundamentals" would protect it from the worst effects of the "Asian flu" that had ravaged other economies and currencies. Singapore had run budget surpluses for years (the last deficit was recorded in 1986 during the last recession) and had accumulated nearly $80 billion in reserves; its banks were well capitalized and its economy seemingly in good shape.

      Such confidence was to prove premature, however, as Singapore belatedly succumbed to the economic contagion. The first major jolt came in January, in the wake of Indonesia's collapse, when the Singapore dollar plummeted from 1.67 to the U.S. dollar to 1.8. (It later recovered and ended the year at 1.64.) The stock and property markets then began a roller-coaster ride during which the benchmark Straits Times Index dropped as much as 47% in early September from the start of the year before rallying in the final quarter to close only 7.4% down. Likewise, the property market plunged some 40% in value from its peak in May 1996.

      On the political front, predominantly Chinese Singapore watched in horror as its large Muslim neighbour Indonesia descended into economic and political chaos, which culminated in longtime President Suharto's ouster during bloody riots in May that targeted Indonesia's ethnic Chinese population. Singapore's military went on heightened alert and stepped up border and naval patrols, fearful of a worst-case "meltdown scenario" in Indonesia that would send hundreds of thousands if not millions of Indonesian refugees fleeing to the small nation.

      Meanwhile, perennially prickly relations with Malaysia, Singapore's other large mostly Muslim neighbour, took a sharp turn for the worse as long-simmering disputes over water and a railway line came to a head during the summer. Thus, Singapore faced the nightmarish scenario of being at odds with its two largest neighbours, with whom its economy was closely tied.

      If this was not bad enough, Singapore slid into recession as it registered its first consecutive quarters of negative growth since 1986. From a high of 7.8% growth in 1997, the government estimated an increase of 1.3% in 1998.


▪ 1998

      Area: 646 sq km (249 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 3,104,000

      Chief of state: President Ong Teng Cheong

      Head of government: Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong

      On Jan. 2, 1997, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) overwhelmingly won Singapore's parliamentary elections. In a major personal victory for Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, the PAP garnered 65% of the vote and reclaimed two of the four seats held by the opposition. It was a hard-fought campaign that provoked some international criticism over PAP tactics, which included threatening to delay property-upgrading programs in districts that voted for the opposition. Such tactics were particularly effective in a country where 86% of the populace lived in government-built housing.

      The government also caused a stir by launching an all-out legal offensive against one of its defeated opponents, the previously little-known lawyer Tang Liang Hong, whom the PAP accused of being a "Chinese chauvinist." In eight separate suits brought by Goh, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and other officials, the PAP charged Tang with defamation when he accused the government of lying during the campaign. Tang fled the country and was later charged with tax evasion. The court initially awarded the PAP more than $5 million in damages, but that was later reduced by more than half. In a separate defamation case against Tang's running mate, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, Goh also prevailed but won only a fraction of the damages he had sought.

      On the economic front the Asian currency crisis had serious effects on Singapore. Once thought of as a safe haven amid its less-stable neighbours, Singapore watched in horror as speculators turned on its dollar after ravaging the Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit, Indonesian rupiah, and Philippine peso. Between the end of June and the end of December, the Singapore dollar depreciated by 9%. The benchmark Straits Times Industrials Index had dropped 31% since the beginning of the year.

      Local companies that had expanded aggressively throughout the region in recent years were also hit hard by the currency crisis, since trade with Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines accounted for 27% of Singapore's total trade. The economic picture was not expected to improve soon. Analysts downgraded regional growth predictions from 8-10% to 4-6% for the year.

      Looking for positive signs amid the regional gloom, Singapore's defenders pointed to its economic strengths. Unlike its neighbours, Singapore had no foreign debt, had consistently run current-account and budget surpluses, and had low inflation (roughly 2%). In addition, its commercial banks were strong, with the highest credit rating in Asia and, luckily, less than 5% of their loans in troubled Thailand.


      This article updates singapore, history of (Singapore).

▪ 1997

      Singapore, a republic of Southeast Asia and member of the Commonwealth, consists of the island of Singapore and 60 nearby islets, at the southern extremity of the Malay Peninsula. Area: 646 sq km (249 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 3,045,000. Monetary unit: Singapore dollar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of S$1.41 to U.S. $1 (S$2.22 = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Ong Teng Cheong; prime minister, Goh Chok Tong.

      The year 1996 started on an upbeat note for Singapore. To the delight of policy makers, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in January reclassified the island republic as a "more advanced developing economy," a classification just below developed status. The island's economic indicators continued to be the envy of many industrialized countries. Overall economic growth was strong at about 8%, with unemployment averaging a low 2.7%. But the good news was tempered in the second half of the year as Singapore's disk drive and computer chip makers, hit by the slump in global electronics demand, reported declining profits.

      Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew raised speculation in June when he said he could foresee Singapore's eventual reunion with Malaysia, provided the latter adopted the meritocracy of Singapore. The island had left the Malaysian federation in 1965, and six years later Malaysia introduced its New Economic Policy, favouring indigenous Malays over other ethnic groups.

      Rumours grew about the timing of national elections, due to take place by April 1997. Amid slowly eroding support for the ruling People's Action Party, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong publicly asked voters to give his party at least 60% of the vote. The opposition was spread over eight separate parties, with the largest group, the Singapore Democratic Party, fractured by internal dissent.

      On the international front, Singapore's ambition to achieve closer ties with Europe was realized with the first Asia-Europe Meeting, which took place in Bangkok in March. At the meeting the delegates decided, among other cooperative measures, to inaugurate an Asia-Europe Foundation, to be based in Singapore.


      This article updates singapore, history of (Singapore).

▪ 1996

      Singapore, a republic of Southeast Asia and member of the Commonwealth, consists of the island of Singapore and 58 nearby islets, at the southern extremity of the Malay Peninsula. Area: 641 sq km (247 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 2,989,000. Monetary unit: Singapore dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of S$1.43 to U.S. $1 (S$2.26 = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Ong Teng Cheong; prime minister, Goh Chok Tong.

      In late February 1995 Britain's 233-year-old Barings PLC collapsed after running up losses of over $1 billion in futures trading on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange. Barings trader Nicholas Leeson fled Singapore and was later arrested in Frankfurt, Germany. (See Banking (Economic Affairs ).)

      Relations with the Philippines were strained in March when Filipino maid Flor Contemplacion was executed for the 1991 murders of fellow domestic Delia Maga and a local boy under Maga's care. Many in the Philippines contended that Contemplacion was innocent, but Singapore denied Manila's request to postpone the hanging pending further investigation. As anti-Singapore protests raged, the Philippines recalled its ambassador. After U.S. forensic experts performed an autopsy on the exhumed remains of Maga and confirmed Singapore's medical report that Maga had died by strangulation, Philippine Pres. Fidel V. Ramos accepted the findings and declared the matter closed.

      In his newspaper column, U.S. commentator William Safire berated Williams College, Williamstown, Mass., for awarding an honorary degree to Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Condemning what he said was Singapore's lack of freedom of expression, Safire challenged Goh to participate in a forum that would feature Singaporean opposition figures. Singapore responded with an invitation for Safire to debate Goh on the prime minister's home turf. The columnist refused, suggesting instead that Goh take on exiled opposition politician Francis Seow, while Safire would meet Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew in Switzerland.

      With new polls required by April 1997, the question of the prime minister's political future resurfaced when former Cabinet minister Tony Tan returned to government in August as his deputy. Lee, whose decision to step aside in 1990 had led to Goh's appointment as prime minister, had indicated that he preferred Tan to succeed him. In October, Pres. Ong Teng Cheong flew to the U.S. for medical consultations after cancer, previously diagnosed in 1992, recurred.

      The economy continued to perform strongly, with growth above 8% and inflation dropping below 2%. Strong demand for electronics kept export growth in double digits. The government continued to encourage businessmen to venture abroad. (ALEJANDRO REYES)

      This updates the article singapore, history of (Singapore).

▪ 1995

      Singapore, a republic of Southeast Asia and member of the Commonwealth, consists of the island of Singapore and 58 nearby islets, at the southern extremity of the Malay Peninsula. Area: 641 sq km (247 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 2,933,000. Monetary unit: Singapore dollar, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of S$1.48 to U.S. $1 (S$2.36 = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Ong Teng Cheong; prime minister, Goh Chok Tong.

      Singapore became the centre of worldwide attention in 1994 as a result of the court-ordered caning of American teenager Michael Fay. In October 1993 Fay and five other resident expatriate teenagers had been charged with vandalism. Fay initially faced 53 counts, mainly spray painting and otherwise damaging 18 vehicles over a 10-day period. Fay pleaded guilty to two counts of vandalism, two counts of mischief, and one count of possessing stolen property. In March 1994 he was sentenced to four months in jail and six strokes of a rattan cane and fined U.S. $2,200. The sentence provoked heated discussion in the United States, and Pres. Bill Clinton called the punishment "extreme" and asked Singapore to waive the caning. Singapore authorities responded that tough laws kept the nation relatively crime-free and that foreigners and Singaporeans should be treated equally under the law.

      On May 5, following a recommendation of the Cabinet, Fay was subjected to only four strokes of the cane. A Hong Kong youth arrested with Fay received 6 rather than 12 strokes and had his prison time reduced from eight to six months.

      Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong maintained Singapore's assertive approach to social issues in his National Day Rally speech in August, announcing that unwed mothers would no longer qualify for government-subsidized housing and that women civil servants would not gain medical benefits for their families. The latter decision, Goh said, upheld the principle that the husband was the "primary provider" according to his "pro-family" policies.

      In September, over protests from The Hague, Dutch engineer Johannes van Damme was hanged for trafficking in heroin. He was the first Westerner executed under a law mandating death for persons dealing in illegal drugs. In March in another high-profile court case, a civil servant, two economists, and two journalists were convicted and fined for violating the Official Secrets Act. The crime involved the publication of quarterly economic growth estimates in the Business Times newspaper in 1992 before their official release. Singapore's gross domestic product continued to grow at an annual rate of about 9%. The Singapore dollar strengthened by more than 6% against the U.S. dollar. In April the government introduced a 3% tax on goods and services. (BERTON WOODWARD)

      This updates the article singapore, history of (Singapore).

▪ 1994

      Singapore, a republic of Southeast Asia and member of the Commonwealth, occupies a group of islands, the largest of which is Singapore, at the southern extremity of the Malay Peninsula. Area: 639 sq km (247 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 2,876,000. Monetary unit: Singapore dollar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of S$1.58 to U.S. $1 (S$2.40 = £1 sterling). Presidents in 1993, Wee Kim Wee and, from September 1, Ong Teng Cheong; prime minister, Goh Chok Tong.

      During most of 1993, Singaporeans were preoccupied with questions about national leadership. Both of Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's deputies, Ong Teng Cheong and Lee Hsien Loong, had learned in November 1992 that they had lymphatic cancer. Lee, a retired brigadier general and the son of longtime prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, had been the odds-on favourite to succeed Goh as prime minister. When he began chemotherapy, he had little choice but to give up his demanding second post as minister of trade and industry. Doctors reported in April that Lee was free of the cancer, but he continued to restrict his activities on the advice of his physicians.

      Ong, however, was able to remain on the job because his ailment had been diagnosed as a lower-grade cancer. In August he became Singapore's first directly elected president by winning 57.4% of the vote in a national election. Unlike his predecessor, Ong would have veto power over financial and budget policies and the right to vet key appointments. Initially it appeared that no one would challenge Ong, but Chua Kim Yeow, a 67-year-old retired civil servant, made a token contest. He conceded that Ong was "a far superior candidate." Given such a scenario, political observers were surprised that Chua received 40.4% of the total vote. Some interpreted the returns as a sign of disenchantment with the long-ruling, paternalistic People's Action Party (PAP).

      Nonetheless, Lee's withdrawal to the sidelines and the election of Ong, who was considered friendly to Goh, were seen as strengthening the prime minister's position as he worked in the shadow of the immensely influential Lee Kuan Yew, who held the post of senior minister in the Cabinet. After winning a December 1992 by-election with a strong majority, Goh showed a new willingness to disagree publicly with Lee Kuan Yew. Goh also replaced Lee in the powerful post of PAP secretary-general.

      Meanwhile, the political opposition was in relative disarray. Infighting in the Singapore Democratic Party, which held three of the four opposition seats in Parliament, led Chiam See Tong to resign as leader of the party. Chee Soon Juan, who had opposed the PAP in the December by-election, took over as acting secretary-general. He later went on a 10-day hunger strike to protest his dismissal as a lecturer at the National University of Singapore.

      In March the government introduced legislation raising the retirement age to 60 from 55 because of the growing labour shortage. It also prohibited people under 18 from buying cigarettes or smoking in public. The economy made a strong comeback during the year, growing at a rate of 10%.


      This updates the article singapore, history of (Singapore).

* * *

officially  Republic of Singapore , Malay  Republik Singapura , Mandarin Chinese  Hsin-chia-p'o Kung-ho-kuo , Tamil  Singapore Kudiyarasu 
Singapore, flag of   city-state located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, about 85 miles (137 kilometres) north of the Equator. It consists of the diamond-shaped Singapore Island and some 60 small islets; the main island occupies all but about 18 square miles of this combined area. The main island is separated from Peninsular Malaysia to the north by Johor Strait (Johore Strait), a narrow channel crossed by a road and rail causeway that is more than half a mile long. The southern limits of the state run through Singapore Strait, where outliers of the Riau-Lingga Archipelago—which forms a part of Indonesia—extend to within 10 miles of the main island.

 Singapore is the largest port in Southeast Asia and one of the busiest in the world. It owes its growth and prosperity to its focal position at the southern extremity of the Malay Peninsula, where it dominates the Strait of Malacca, which connects the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea. Once a British colony and now a member of the Commonwealth, Singapore first joined the Federation of Malaysia on its formation in 1963 but seceded to become an independent state on Aug. 9, 1965.

The land


      Nearly two-thirds of the main island is less than 50 feet (15 metres) above sea level. Timah Hill, the highest summit, has an elevation of only 531 feet (162 metres); with other peaks, such as Panjang and Mandai hills, it forms a block of rugged terrain in the centre of the island. To the west and south are lower scarps with marked northwest-southeast trends, such as Mount Faber. The eastern part of the island is a low plateau cut by erosion into an intricate pattern of hills and valleys. These physical units reflect their geologic foundations: the central hills are formed from granite rocks, the scarp lands from highly folded and faulted sedimentary rocks, and the eastern plateau from uncompacted sands and gravels.

Drainage and soils
      A dense network of short streams drains the island, but floods are locally severe because the streams have low gradients and because of excessive water runoff from cleared land. Many streams, especially those draining northward, have broad mangrove-fringed estuaries that extend far inland. None of the soils is even reasonably fertile, but those derived from the granites tend to be better than most. Soils developed from the sedimentary rocks are variable, but many contain hardpans (compacted layers) that restrict plant roots and impede soil drainage. The soils of eastern Singapore are extremely infertile. All have suffered extensive degradation through erosion as a result of generations of careless human exploitation.

      Singapore is in the equatorial monsoon region of Southeast Asia, and its climate is characterized by uniformly high temperatures and nearly constant precipitation throughout the year. The average monthly temperature varies from about 81° F (27° C) in June to 77° F (25° C) in January. The daily range is somewhat greater, averaging about 13° F (7° C). Singapore's maritime location and constant humidity, however, keep maximum temperatures relatively moderate: the highest temperature ever recorded was only 97° F (36° C).

      The seasons are defined by the relative incidence of rainfall, which, in turn, is determined by the movements of the monsoon air masses. The wettest and windiest period is during the northeast monsoon (November–March), with rainfall reaching an average monthly high of more than 10 inches (250 millimetres) in December. Conversely, the period of the least amount of rainfall and the lightest winds is during the southwest monsoon (May–September), with rainfall dropping to a monthly low of less than 7 inches in July. April and October are intermonsoonal periods characterized by sluggish air movements and intense afternoon showers and thunderstorms. Altogether, Singapore's precipitation averages about 95 inches annually, and rain falls somewhere on the island every day of the year.

Plant and animal life
      Little remains of the original vegetation or animal life, except for a few thousand acres of evergreen rain forest preserved around catchment areas. Some mangrove vegetation survives in the Kranji area on the northwest side of the island, but elsewhere tracts of scrub or cogon grass (called lalang locally) are common. Many exotic plants have been introduced for ornamental use. The largest native animals are the long-tailed macaque (an Asian species of monkey), the slow loris (a large-eyed tailless nocturnal lemur), and the scaly anteater. Birds are numerous, especially those like the Indian mynah bird, the brahminy kite (a kite with reddish brown plumage and a white head and breast), and the house swallow that have adapted to a symbiotic relationship with humans. Reptiles, such as cobras and lizards, also are common. Fringing coral reefs with their associated fish and wildlife occur around many parts of the coast.

Settlement patterns
      The city of Singapore is situated in the southern portion of the main island. Over time, urbanization has blurred the differences between city and country. Built-up areas now cover a large part of the city-state. The older parts of the city have been substantially refurbished, especially along the Singapore River but elsewhere as well. The once-common Chinese shop-house, consisting of living quarters above a commercial establishment, gradually has been disappearing from the city. Instead, the government's Housing and Development Board (HDB) has relocated commerce into separate districts and has created integrated residential communities inhabited by people with a mixture of incomes. About four-fifths of Singapore's population now resides in high-rise HDB flats located in housing estates and new towns. The new towns—such as Woodlands, Tampines, and Yishun—are scattered across the island and are characterized by easy access to places of employment and shopping districts. The traditional Malay kampong settlements—consisting of stilt houses built along the shoreline—are declining in number and are now found only in select rural areas.

The people

Ethnolinguistic composition
      The population of Singapore is diverse, the result of considerable past immigration. Chinese predominate, making up more than three-fourths of the total. Malays (Malay) are the next largest ethnic group, and Indians the third. None of these three major communities is homogeneous. Among the Chinese, more than two-fifths originate from Fukien province and speak the Amoy dialect, about one-fourth are Teochew from the city of Swatow in Kwangtung province, and a smaller number are from other parts of Kwangtung. The Chinese community as a whole, therefore, speaks mutually incomprehensible dialects. Linguistic differences are less pronounced among the Malays, but the group includes Indonesians speaking Javanese, Boyanese, and other dialects. The Indian group is most diverse, consisting of Tamils (Tamil) (more than half), Malayalis, and Sikhs; it also includes Pakistani and Sinhalese communities.

      Because of this ethnic diversity, no fewer than four official languages are recognized—English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. English (English language) remains the main medium for administration, commerce, and industry, and it is the primary language of instruction in schools. Mandarin (Mandarin language), the official language of China, transcends dialect barriers, and its use is strongly promoted; one-third of the school population is taught in that language. Malay (Malay language), like English, is widely used for communication among ethnic groups and plays a particularly useful role in view of the close ties between Singapore and Malaysia.

      Religious affiliations reflect ethnic patterns. About two-thirds of all Chinese profess some degree of attachment to Confucianism, Buddhism, or Taoism or to some combination thereof. Virtually all Malays, and some Indians, adhere to Islām (Islāmic world), which is the formal religion of about one-sixth of the population. The Christian (Christianity) community has grown rapidly and now constitutes more than 10 percent of the population; nearly all Christians are Chinese. Almost all of the remaining population is Hindu.

Demographic trends
      Heavily urbanized, Singapore has a high population density, but it also has been a regional leader in population control. Its birth and population growth rates are the lowest in Southeast Asia. Singapore's high average life expectancy and its low infant-mortality rate reflect high standards of hygiene and access to a superb health care system. The low birth rate and greater longevity of the population have raised the median age, a trend also occurring in other developed nations.

The economy
      Singapore, one of the great trading entrepôts of the British empire, has experienced remarkable economic growth and diversification since 1960. In addition to enhancing its position as a world trade centre, it has developed powerful financial and industrial sectors. Singapore has the most advanced economy in Southeast Asia and is often mentioned along with other rapidly industrializing countries in Asia, notably South Korea and Taiwan. Singapore's economy always has differed from those of the other Southeast Asian countries in that it never has been primarily dependent on the production and export of commodities.

      Economic development has been closely supervised by the Singaporean government, and it has been highly dependent on investment capital from foreign multinational corporations (multinational corporation). The government holds about three-fourths of all land and is the chief supplier of surplus capital, which is derived largely from contributions to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) social-security savings program. In addition, the government has attempted to enhance the value and productivity of labour in order to attract investment and boost export competitiveness. This has been accompanied by a strong commitment to education and health. Labour shortages and rising wages have heightened the push for restructuring the economy even more toward higher value-added production.

      The rationale for extensive government intervention in economic development has weakened. Official policy relies on market forces, privatization of government enterprise, and more support for domestic private businesses. Union membership has declined as centralized union structures have been replaced by smaller industry- and enterprise-based unions. Greater reliance has been placed on local labour-management negotiations.

Resources, agriculture, and fisheries
      Singapore has few natural resources. There are no natural forests remaining on the island. Only a tiny fraction of the land area is classified as agricultural, and production contributes a negligible amount to the overall economy. Cultivation is intensive, with vegetables and fruits grown and poultry raised for local consumption. The local fishing industry supplies only a portion of the total fresh fish requirement; most of the catch comes from offshore fishing vessels. There also is a small aquaculture industry that raises groupers, sea bass, and prawns. Singapore is a major exporter of both orchids and aquarium fish.

      Since the late 1960s Singapore has pursued a general policy of export-oriented industrialization. In order to attract foreign investment, the economy was liberalized, and a series of incentives were provided to multinational corporations; chief among these was the establishment of free trade zones. Gradually, production has been diversifying from such labour-intensive industries as textiles to high-technology activities like the manufacture of electronics and precision equipment and oil refining, which yield a much higher added value to production.

Services and tourism
      Singapore has been able to emphasize its comparative advantage in knowledge-intensive activities—especially communications and information and financial services—which are less dependent on foreign investment. Higher productivity and research and development are encouraged through schemes that provide investment credits and allowances. An effective economic strategy has been to invest local funds abroad and simultaneously to export management skills. Singapore has sought to recruit skilled people, particularly Chinese from the United States and China (notably Hong Kong).

      Tourism has become increasingly important to Singapore's economy. Singapore's central location in Southeast Asia and its excellent air-transport facilities have been augmented by massive investments in hotels and shopping centres. Duty-free shopping and a variety of recreational attractions, along with a refurbished beachfront, are among the primary attractions.

      Singapore's financial services are highly sophisticated and are available through a wide variety of institutions. There is a growing venture-capital market that offers seed funding to firms that develop or introduce new technology. The government's Monetary Authority of Singapore performs all the functions of a central bank except issuing currency. A focal point of Singapore's growth as an international financial centre has been the Asian Dollar Market, which is essentially an international money and capital market where currencies other than the Singapore dollar are traded. The Development Bank of Singapore is the largest local bank in terms of assets. The Stock Exchange of Singapore is an important component of the financial activity in the region.

      Singapore continues to perform its traditional function as a financial intermediary, shipping raw materials such as rubber, timber, and spices from the Southeast Asian region in exchange for finished goods from both within and, especially, outside the region. Major imports are machinery and transport equipment and crude petroleum, while machinery and refined petroleum products are the major exports. The United States, Malaysia, and Japan are Singapore's principal trading partners. Entrepôt activities, where goods are transhipped and sometimes processed or manufactured in the immediate area, account for about one-third of Singapore's export trade. Notable in this capacity has been the oil-refining industry. In an attempt to foster additional trade, Singapore has become a joint-venture partner in numerous projects with Malaysia and Indonesia. Investments in the nearby Indonesian island of Batam have been important in this respect.

      Singapore has one of the world's busiest ports in terms of shipping tonnage. The Port of Singapore Authority oversees all shipping activity and operates a number of terminals on the island. Containerized cargo accounts for more than half of the general-cargo tonnage. The island has a well-developed network of roads and highways, but traffic congestion frequently is a serious problem. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the government opened a light-rail mass-transit system that links the major population centres in the housing estates with employment centres and the central business district. Singapore is linked by rail to Peninsular Malaysia via the connecting causeway at Johor. Singapore's international airport, Changi, at the eastern end of the main island, is a major regional and overseas air hub.

Administration and social conditions

      Singapore is a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster model. The government consists of a president who is head of state and a unicameral Parliament of 81 members who are elected to terms of up to five years. The parliamentary majority selects the prime minister and cabinet from its own ranks, and they in turn form the government. Until 1991 the largely ceremonial post of president was filled by parliamentary election; in that year the constitution was amended to allow for the direct popular election of the president and for presidential powers to be expanded. In each constituency there is a Citizens' Consultative Committee, designed to link local communities to the ruling party.

      Close liaison is maintained between the political and administrative arms of government. The administrative structure consists of the various ministries and statutory boards. These are staffed by civil servants who are monitored by an independent Public Service Commission.

The political process
      Singapore's electorate includes every adult citizen who is a registered voter, and voting is compulsory. A number of parties contest elections, but since 1959 Singaporean politics have been dominated by the People's Action Party (PAP). The PAP's ability to maintain its control largely has been attributable to Singapore's rapid economic growth and improved social welfare. In addition, the PAP often has suppressed and co-opted domestic opposition—notably through internal-security laws that allow political dissidents to be held indefinitely without trial—and it has promoted a national paternalistic ideology through a variety of laws and corporate institutions. The emphasis of this ideology has been a rigid public morality focused on personal appearance and cleanliness, political loyalty, and family planning.

      Justice is administered by the Supreme Court and by courts of lesser jurisdiction, such as district and magistrates' courts. Appeals can be made from the lower to the higher courts, with final appeal to the judicial committee of the Privy Council in London. A Sharīʿah court has jurisdiction in matters of Islāmic law.

Armed forces and security
      The armed forces of Singapore are divided into army, air force, and navy branches. The army is by far the largest of the services and consists primarily of infantry battalions with supporting artillery, armour, engineer, and logistics units. The main duties of the air force are air defense, support of ground forces, and long-range surveillance and tracking. The navy patrols the country's coastal waters and protects shipping lanes. Compulsory military conscription for 18-year-old males was introduced in 1967. There are two paramilitary forces: the Peoples' Defence Force, composed mainly of reservists, and the National Cadet Corps, consisting of high-school and college students.

      The police force is responsible for internal security, traffic management, and crime prevention. It is assisted by a Civil Defence Force consisting of reservists and volunteers.

      Education is highly valued in Singapore, and its education system is elaborately structured. Primary education is free and lasts from six to eight years; the language of instruction is English, and students are required to learn any one of the other three official languages as a second language. Students at the secondary level are placed into academic or vocational and commercial tracks. Those on academic tracks are further channeled into four- or five-year courses of instruction. Opportunities for higher education are determined by academic performance and usually involve two or three years of preuniversity instruction followed by enrollment at a university or technical college. The National University of Singapore, founded in 1980 by a merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University, is the largest and best-known institute of higher education.

Health and welfare
      Health conditions in Singapore compare favourably with those in other economically developed nations. The range and quality of medical services is notably high, with a large number of doctors and dentists. There are both government and private hospitals, while nonhospital care is dispensed from numerous outpatient clinics and mobile centres. The government and voluntary associations, the latter coordinated by the Council of Social Service, provide welfare services for the aged, sick, and unemployed.

Cultural life
      Cultural activities in Singapore are largely derivative, springing from one or another of the major civilizations of China, India, Indonesia, or the West. Traditional Chinese and Indian music, painting, and drama are practiced by numerous cultural societies and professional groups. Popular culture, based on modern mass media, is far more widespread. Malay music, which has adopted the rhythms of Western orchestras, has general appeal. Musical films that popularize Hindi and Tamil songs have a considerable following, as do films from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States.

      Several Chinese, English, Indian, and Malay newspapers serve a largely literate population. Magazines published in the West, Hong Kong, and Japan also have wide appeal. The government monitors the press to a certain extent and on occasion places circulation restrictions on periodicals and newspapers that are critical of its policies. The government-owned Singapore Broadcasting Corporation controls all local radio and television broadcasting.

      Singapore Island originally was inhabited by fishermen and pirates, and it served as an outpost for the Sumatran empire of Śrīvijaya. In Javanese (Java) inscriptions and Chinese records dating to the end of the 14th century, the more common name of the island is Tumasik, or Temasek, from the Javanese word tasek (“sea”). Rājendra, ruler of the southern Indian Coḷa kingdom, attacked the island in 1025, and there was another Coḷa raid in 1068. In 1275 the Javanese king Kertanagara probably attacked Temasek when he raided Pahang on the east coast of the peninsula. According to a Chinese traveler, Wang Ta-yuan, just before 1349 about 70 Tai war boats besieged Temasek for a month but had to withdraw. The Javanese epic poem Nāgarakeṛtāgama (Nāgarakṛtāgama) (written 1365) includes Temasek among the conquests of the Javanese empire of Majapahit. At the end of the 14th century, Temasek fell into decay and was supplanted by Malacca (now Melaka). Yet in 1552 it was still a port of call from which St. Francis Xavier dispatched letters to Goa, and João de Barros (Barros, João de) described its busy shipping activity in his history Décadas da Ásia (1552–1615).

      Rājendra may have named the city Singapura (“Lion City”), later corrupted to Singapore, or the name may have been bestowed in the 14th century by Buddhist monks, to whom the lion was a symbolic character. According to the Sejarah Melayu, a Malay chronicle, the city was founded by the Śrīvijayan prince Sri Tri Buana; he is said to have glimpsed a tiger, mistaken it for a lion, and thus called the settlement Singapura.

Robert Ho Thomas R. Leinbach

      In January 1819 Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (Raffles, Sir Stamford) of the English East India Company, searching for a trading site, forestalled by the Dutch at Riau, and finding the Carimon (Karimun) Islands unsuitable, landed at Singapore. He found only a few Chinese planters, some aborigines, and a few Malays and was told by the hereditary chief, the temenggong (direct ancestor of the sultans of modern Johor), that the company could purchase land. The temenggong, however, was a subordinate of his cousin Abdul Rahman, sultan of Riau-Johor, who was under Dutch surveillance. Furthermore, Abdul Rahman was a younger son and not a sultan de jure. Raffles, disobeying instructions not to offend the Dutch, withdrew his own recognition of Abdul Rahman's suzerainty over Singapore and installed Abdul Rahman's elder brother, Hussein (Husain), to validate the purchase of land there on behalf of the company. The Dutch protested. In London the court of directors, though it decided Raffles had contravened instructions, took no action.

      In 1824 an Anglo-Dutch treaty left Malaya and Singapore in the British (British Empire) sphere, and in August the whole of Singapore Island was ceded to the British for a monetary payment. Two years later Singapore, Penang, and Malacca (Melaka) were combined as the Straits Settlements to form an outlying residency of India. In 1830 they were reduced to a residency under Bengal, and two years later Singapore became their capital. When the East India Company lost its monopoly of the China trade (1833), it also lost its interest in Malaya. The settlements were transferred to the direct control of the governor-general of India in 1851. In 1867 they were made a crown colony under the Colonial Office in London.

Development of the port
      Meanwhile, Singapore's trade had suffered after 1842 from British development of a rival port, Hong Kong, as later it was to suffer from the French occupation of the Indochinese Peninsula and their development of Saigon and Haiphong in Vietnam and from the establishment of Dutch ports and shipping lines in the Dutch East Indies. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the advent of steamships, however, an era of prosperity began that led eventually to the construction of three miles of wharves at Tanjong Pagar and finally, in 1921, a naval base. The economic growth of the Malay states after they became British protectorates enlarged transit trade.

Sir Richard Olof Winstedt
      The demand of the industrial West for tin and rubber was what made Singapore one of the greatest ports in the world. After World War I, steps were taken to modernize Malayan defenses and, with the lapsing of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, to build a large naval base in Singapore.

World War II and the end of colonialism
      In early December 1941 the Japanese landed in northern Malaya and southern Thailand on the Malay Peninsula. They quickly gained air and naval superiority in the region, and by the end of January 1942 they had overrun the peninsula and were opposite Singapore Island. The Japanese crossed the Johor Strait on Feb. 8, 1942, and the British command surrendered the island and city one week later. Singapore remained in Japanese hands until September 1945.

      Postwar British political plans for Malaya excluded Singapore from a proposed Malayan Union and later from the Federation of Malaya, mainly because it was thought that Singapore's predominantly Chinese population would be an ethnic obstacle to common citizenship. As a separate crown colony (from 1946), Singapore made constitutional progress despite the communist insurrection in Malaya. Elected ministers and a Legislative Assembly with an elected majority assumed government responsibility in 1955, except for matters of defense and foreign policy. In 1959 the official and nominated elements were eliminated, and Singapore became self-governing, although Britain still retained control of defense and foreign policy.

Singapore since 1963
      Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia on its formation in September 1963. The ruling People's Action Party (PAP), led by Lee Kuan Yew, had refused in 1959 to form a government until extreme left-wing leaders of the party who had been detained by the colonial authorities were released. These leaders opposed the concept of Malaysia and broke away from the PAP to form the Socialist Front (Barisan Sosialis), which was accused of being a communist front organization. The PAP faced fresh dangers of subversion when Indonesian opposition to Malaysia took the form of military and economic confrontation (1964).

      Confrontation ended in 1966, but Singapore had seceded from Malaysia in 1965 (at the invitation of the Malaysian government) because of political friction between the state and central governments. This conflict had ethnic overtones and continued to affect relations between Singapore and Malaysia until the mid-1970s, when relations became more cordial.

      In January 1968 the British government had announced that all British defense forces would be withdrawn from East and Southeast Asia (except Hong Kong) by the end of 1971. In April Singapore's unprepared major opposition parties boycotted an election called seven months before it was due. The ruling PAP termed its sweep of all parliamentary seats a mandate for its plans for reducing the economic effects of the British (British Empire) military withdrawal.

      At the end of October 1971, British military presence in Singapore came to an end. The Anglo-Malayan treaty concluded in 1957, which had committed Britain to the defense of the region, was terminated, and in its place a five-power defense arrangement—involving Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore as equal partners—came into force.

      Since the 1970s Singapore has pursued an aggressive policy of economic growth based primarily on export manufacturing and trade. Gradually, it also has taken a more active role in regional diplomacy. Singapore was a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (ASEAN) in 1967, and by 1980 it had emerged as one of ASEAN's leaders. The PAP has continued to dominate Singaporean politics, although Lee stepped down as prime minister in 1990, and between 1981 and 1991 opposition parties gradually increased their number of seats in Parliament from one to four. Yet, despite the country's phenomenal economic success, resultant high standards of living, and subsequent goal of internationalization, the government's policies of developmental paternalism have bred some discontent among those who have come to expect greater openness to new ideas and a freer flow of information.

Annajane Kennard Thomas R. Leinbach

Additional Reading
Overviews are provided by Philippe Regnier, Singapore: A City-State in South East Asia (1991); and R.S. Milne and Diane K. Mauzy, Singapore: The Legacy of Lee Kuan Yew (1990). Tania Li, Malays in Singapore (1989), is a thorough study. Economic development and government policies are surveyed in Peter S.J. Chen, Singapore Development Policies and Trends (1983); Lim Chong-Yah and Peter J. Lloyd (eds.), Singapore: Resources and Growth (1986); Linda Lim and Pang Eng Fong, Trade, Employment, and Industrialisation in Singapore (1986), an excellent analysis; Tilak Doshi, Houston of Asia: The Singapore Petroleum Industry (1989); Garry Rodan, The Political Economy of Singapore's Industrialization (1989), a discussion of the role of the government in engineering development; Frederick Deyo, “Singapore: Developmental Paternalism,” in Steven M. Goldstein (ed.), Minidragons: Fragile Economic Miracles in the Pacific (1991), pp. 48–87, a candid article on the impact of state policies; and Kernial Singh Sandhu and Paul Wheatley (eds.), Management of Success: The Moulding of Modern Singapore (1989), a collection of essays.C.M. Turnbull, A History of Singapore, 1819–1988, 2nd ed. (1989), is the key historical study on the nation, with an excellent bibliography. Donald Moore and Joanna Moore, The First 150 Years of Singapore (1969), is an older but still useful work. A more recent survey is Ernest C.T. Chew and Edwin Lee (eds.), A History of Singapore (1991). Yen Ching-Hwang, A Social History of the Chinese in Singapore and Malaya, 1800–1911 (1986), is written from Chinese records and accounts. L.K. Wong, “Singapore: Its Growth as an Entrepot Port, 1819–1941,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 9(1):50–84 (March 1978), is the best treatment of economic history up to World War II. Alex Josey, Singapore (1979), stresses the contemporary period from a pro-People's Action Party stance.Thomas R. Leinbach

 city, capital of the Republic of Singapore. It occupies the southern part of Singapore Island. Its strategic position on the strait between the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, complemented by its deepwater harbour, has made it the largest port in Southeast Asia and one of the world's greatest commercial centres. The city, once a distinct entity, so came to dominate the island that the Republic of Singapore essentially became a city-state.

      Singapore—known variously as the “Lion City” or “Garden City,” the latter for its many parks and tree-lined streets—has also been called “instant Asia” because it offers the tourist an expeditious glimpse into the cultures brought to it by immigrants from all parts of Asia. While predominantly Chinese, it has substantial minorities of Malays and Indians.

      According to Malay tradition, the island was visited by a prince who came from the Sumatran empire of Śrivijaya and founded and named the city of Singapura. Portuguese records also have it that the city was founded by a Śrivijayan prince from Palembang. Sacked by the Majapahit Javanese during the 14th century, it was supplanted by Malacca (Melaka) but remained a port of call. Its modern history began with the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles (Raffles, Sir Stamford) of the British East India Company, who, in searching for a trading site, landed there on January 29, 1819. The port's growth was steady, and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the advent of steamships increased its importance as a bunkering station. Its growth was assured by the demand for the tin and rubber of the Malay Peninsula, for which the port was a natural shipping outlet.

      Created a city by royal charter in 1951, Singapore was administered as a municipality by an elected mayor-council government from 1957 until 1959, when the colony became self-governing. After 1963 the administration of the city and rural areas was handled by the central government.

      Singapore's port area, one of the world's largest, covers 36 square miles (93 square km). The Port of Singapore Authority operates six gateways (Jurong port, Container Terminal, Keppel, Telok Ayer, Sembawang, and Pasir Panjang wharves) that provide facilities for vessels ranging from oceangoing liners to lighters. The Keppel wharves, which lie protected between the islands of Brani and Sentosa, are deepwater and contain major docks and warehouses. Keppel is Southeast Asia's major transshipment point for exports of oil, rubber, plywood, lumber, and spices. The port's main imports include machinery, textiles, and rice. The Malayan rail system from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur terminates at Singapore.

      The traditional city proper stretches north and east of the port area and is characterized by low (140–150-foot [40–50-metre]) hills. Within the city run the Singapore and Rochor rivers, which are tidal inlets crowded with native craft. The original settlement north of the Singapore River remains the heart of the city; it is the locale of the principal commercial, government, and public buildings and the Anglican St. Andrew's Cathedral (1862).

      Modern housing estates have cut into some of the city's traditional cultural enclaves, particularly the Chinese quarter. Skyscraper hotels and office buildings now blend with the British colonial architecture, Chinese shophouses, and Malay kampongs (villages once thatch-roofed, now tin-roofed).

      In addition to its port activities, Singapore has tin-smelting works, pineapple canneries, rubber factories, oil refineries, and sawmills. The east lagoon is the regional centre for container transshipments. Jurong is a large industrial estate and port west of the city. Singapore's thriving banking, insurance, and brokerage firms and its excellent transport, communications, and storage facilities have helped make it the chief trading and financial centre of Southeast Asia.

      Singapore's notable buildings include the Victoria Theatre and Memorial Hall, the Raffles Hotel, the High Court, the City Hall, the House of Jade, the Sri Mariamman Temple, and the Singapore Polytechnic. The government maintains a national museum, library, and theatre and the Van Kleef Aquarium. The international airport at Changi (opened in 1981) was developed on reclaimed land to the northeast. The Singapore Botanic Gardens are to the northwest. The National University of Singapore was founded in 1980 by the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University. The Nanyang Technological Institute was established in the former Nanyang University in 1981. Tiger Balm Gardens is a collection of statuary depicting Chinese myths and legends. Other attractions include the Jurong Bird Park (opened 1971). Its 50 acres (20 hectares)—perhaps the largest park of its kind in the world—house some 600 species of birds. Sentosa Island in Singapore Harbour has been developed as a major recreational area; it is connected by cable car with Mount Faber and is also accessible by ferry, providing visitors with beaches, a golf course, and an amusement park. Area central region, 46 square miles (119 square km). Pop. (1990) 1,129,859.

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Universalium. 2010.

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