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Singapore (sĭngˈgəpôr, sĭngˈə–, sĭngˌgəpôrˈ), officially Republic of Singapore, republic (2015 est. pop. 5,535,000), 299 sq mi (774 sq km). It consists of the island of Singapore and about 60 small adjacent islands at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, SE Asia. Singapore city, the capital, largest city, and chief port, is administratively coextensive with the republic. The distinction between Singapore and Singapore city has virtually disappeared, as the island is almost entirely urbanized.
Lying just north of the equator and located between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, Singapore is situated at the convergence of some of the world's major sea-lanes. It is separated from Indonesia to the south by the Singapore Strait and from Malaysia to the north by the Johore Strait. Singapore island is low-lying and is composed of a granitic core (rising to 580 ft/177 m at Bukit Timah, the country's highest point) surrounded by sedimentary lowlands. Singapore has a tropical rain-forest climate with uniformly high temperatures and rainfall throughout the year. The island was once covered by rain forest, which is now limited to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The coast is broken by many inlets. Keppel Harbor, the heart of the port of Singapore, is a natural deepwater anchorage between Singapore and the islands of Brani and Sentosa (Blakang Mati), off the S central coast of Singapore island.
The older urban areas of the city lie to the north and northeast of the port. Jurong Industrial Estate (c.20 sq mi/50 sq km), an industrial park built largely on reclaimed swampland, is in SW Singapore. The city-state's architecture is a mix of British colonial, traditional Malay and Chinese, and modern. Among Singapore's notable buildings are the former city hall and supreme court buildings (now housing the National Gallery), the Raffles Hotel, the Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall, the bristly, aluminum-clad Esplanade performance complex and the nearby Singapore Flyer Ferris wheel, and Old St. Andrew's Cathedral. The National Univ. of Singapore, the Nanyang Technological Univ., the Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and the Singapore Polytechnic are the leading educational institutions, and there are art, history, and science museums. Singapore has a botanic garden, a zoo, and a bird park as well as many parks. Sentosa island has been developed as a recreation and amusement complex.
Less than 5% of Singapore's land is used for agriculture. Tropical fruits, orchids, and vegetables are intensively cultivated; rubber and copra are produced; and poultry, hogs, and tropical fish are raised. There are no exploitable natural resources in the country. Its power is produced by thermoelectric plants, and water is supplied by a number of reservoirs; about half its water supply comes from neighboring Malaysia. Singapore has a fine rapid transit system, good roads, a railroad that crosses the island, and a causeway carrying road and rail traffic to the mainland.
Singapore's workforce is employed primarily in manufacturing, in the service industries, and in commerce, with a negligible proportion engaged in agriculture. The country has become a major center of international finance in recent decades, as well as a East Asian hub for Western corporations and more recently a Southeast Asian hub for Chinese companies. The increasing importance of China in manufacturing and finance, however, is seen as a threat to Singapore's future economic growth, and the nation has sought to develop its tourism industry (including casino gambling).
Singapore is one of the world's greatest commercial centers, with a large, modern port. Commerce has historically been the chief source of income. For many years the largest importer in Southeast Asia, Singapore is a free port and an entrepôt that reexports more than half of what it imports, notably rubber, petroleum, textiles, timber, and tin. It also exports locally manufactured goods such as computers and telecommunications equipment, petroleum products, oil drilling equipment, plastics, rubber products, and processed food and beverages. The country imports most of its food.
Singapore's chief trading partners are Malaysia, the United States, China, Japan, and Indonesia. With more than 300 factories and deepwater wharves, the Jurong Industrial Estate is Southeast Asia's largest industrial complex. It and the Changi International Airport are built largely on infill of marsh and shallow waters of the straits. The country has a number of large petroleum storage and refining facilities, and Keppel Harbor is one of the world's largest container-handling facilities. Development of the former British naval base at Sembawang on the Johore Strait as a commercial shipyard helped to enhance Singapore's status as a major center for shipbuilding and repairs.
The Development of Singapore
Singapore was a trading center in the Srivijaya empire before it was destroyed in the 14th cent. by the Majapahit empire. It later became part of Johore (see Johor) in the Malacca Sultanate. The sparsely populated island was ceded (1819) to the British East India Company through the efforts of Sir T. Stamford Raffles; he founded the modern city of Singapore there that same year. In 1824, Singapore came under the complete control of the British and, although containing only a small fishing and trading village, quickly attracted Chinese and Malay merchants. The port grew rapidly, soon overshadowing Penang (see Pinang) and Malacca (see Melaka) in importance. With them Singapore became part of the Straits Settlements in 1826.
The development of Malaya under British rule in the late 19th and early 20th cent. made Singapore one of the leading ports of the world for the export of tin and rubber. The construction of a railroad through the Malay Peninsula to Bangkok swelled Singapore's trade, and the building of airports made it more than ever a communication center. A naval base at Sembawang, begun in 1924, was completed in 1938; the island, sometimes called the Malta of the East, was reinforced in the early days of World War II. After the swift Japanese campaign in Malaya, however, Singapore was successfully attacked across the Johore Strait, and on Feb. 15, 1942, the British garrison surrendered; Singapore was reoccupied by the British in Sept., 1945. In 1946, Singapore, no longer a part of the Straits Settlements, was constituted a crown colony, with Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Following a decade of Communist terrorism, Singapore, separated from Christmas Island and the Cocos-Keeling islands, became (June, 1959) a self-governing state.
In the 1959 general elections the People's Action party (PAP) won control of the government and continued in power after winning the 1963 elections. Under the policies of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's economic base was strengthened and a greater degree of social and cultural homogeneity was achieved. With the establishment in the 1960s of the Economic Development Board, the Development Bank of Singapore, and the International Trading Company and the subsequent influx of foreign investment, Singapore's industrial base was diversified, expanded, and modernized. Following a referendum (1962), Singapore merged (Aug., 1963) with Malaya, Sarawak, and Sabah to form the Federation of Malaysia. Frictions soon arose, however, and Singapore was, by mutual agreement, separated from the federation in Aug., 1965, becoming an independent republic. The exclusion of Singapore was largely due to Malay fears of Singapore's Chinese majority and its potential economic domination in the federation.
Singapore has remained in the Commonwealth of Nations, and it joined the United Nations in 1965; it was one of the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. Prime Minister Lee was the dominant figure in Singapore's authoritarian political environment until his resignation in 1990 after 31 years in office. Singapore experienced steady economic growth and diversification during his tenure, but the country was criticized internationally during the 1980s and 1990s for severe treatment of political dissidents and a harsh system of justice.
In 1990, Goh Chok Tong became prime minister, but Lee retained considerable governmental influence, staying on as senior minister. In 1993, Ong Teng Cheong, former chairman of the PAP, became Singapore's first directly elected president. Despite the government party's overwhelming victory at the polls during the 1997 legislative elections, there were indications of growing popular opposition. Following an economic downturn in 1998, Singapore cut wages and allowed its currency to adjust downward, but it solidified its position as a world financial center. Sellapan Ramanathan (S. R. Nathan), running unopposed as the PAP's endorsed candidate, was elected president in 1999.
In legislative elections in 2001, the PAP again was swept into office, as a fragmented opposition failed to field candidates in 65% of the constituencies. Goh stepped down as prime minister in 2004 and was succeeded by Lee Hsien Loong, son of Lee Kuan Yew. The elder Lee remained in the government as minister mentor, and Goh succeeded him as senior minister. President Nathan was reelected in 2005. In the 2006 legislative elections more than 50% of the constituencies were contested, but the PAP again swept nearly all the seats.
By early 2009, Singapore's economy was severely affected by the global recession, which led to significant drop in exports, but the economy recovered as the year progressed. The 2011 elections saw nearly all the constiuencies contested, and the opposition garnered 40% of the vote, but PAP won more than 90% of the seats. The elder Lee and Goh stepped down after the elections. Later in the year Tony Tan, a former deputy prime minister, was elected president in a closely contested election. In 2015, the PAP increased its share of the popular vote to nearly 70% despite opposition parties contesting all of the seats, and it won more than 90% of the seats. The 2017 presidential election became controversial after the government restricted it to ethnic Malay candidates; only one candidate, Halimah Yacob, qualified, and she was partially of South Asian descent. Halimah became Singapore's first woman head of state. The 2020 elections again gave the PAP the lion's share of the vote and seats, but its share of the vote dropped to 61%.
See N. Barber, A Sinister Twilight: The Fall of Singapore, 1942 (1968); J. W. Salaff, State and Family in Singapore (1988); T. Li, Singapore Malay Society (1989); C. M. Turnbull, A History of Singapore, 1819–1985 (2d ed. 1989); J. Minchin, No Man Is an Island (2d ed. 1990); Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, 1965–2000 (2000).
(Republic of Singapore), a state in Southeast Asia, situated on Singapore Island and a number of neighboring islets off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Part of the British Commonwealth. Area, 581 sq km. Population, 2.2 million (1974). The capital is the city of Singapore.
Constitution and government. Singapore is a republic. The present constitution was adopted in 1965 (it has since been amended several times). The head of state is the president, who is confirmed by parliament for a four-year term. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral parliament, composed of 65 deputies elected by the population for five years. All citizens who have attained the age of 21 may vote. Executive power is vested in the cabinet of ministers. The court system of Singapore consists of the Supreme Court, seven district courts, ten magistrates’ courts, and a special court for minors.
Natural features. Singapore Island is separated from the Malay Peninsula by the Strait of Johore, which is spanned by a dam, and from the islands of Indonesia by the Strait of Malacca and the Singapore Strait. The shores are low-lying and often swampy, with estuarine bays; the southwestern shores are rimmed by coral reefs. The terrain is occupied by plains, with a maximum elevation of 176 m.
Singapore has a rainy tropical climate, with an average January temperature of 26.2°C, an average July temperature of 27.4°C, and an average annual precipitation of 2,500 mm. Some areas are swampy and covered with tropical forests, which once occupied the entire island; mangroves grow along the shores.
Population. Chinese constitute more than 76 percent of the population, Malays 15 percent, and emigrants from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, 7 percent. There are also English, French, and Portuguese, descendants of mixed marriages between Europeans and Asians and Arabs. Malay is the national language, but Chinese, Tamil, and English are also recognized as official languages. The Malays are Muslims; the Chinese, Buddhists or Confucians; and the Indians, Hindus or Muslims. The Gregorian calendar is the official calendar, but the lunar calendar is commonly used among the Buddhists. Owing to measures instituted to limit the birthrate, the rate of population growth decreased from 3 percent in the 1960’s to 2 percent in the 1970’s. The labor force amounted to 726,700 persons in 1970, of whom 86.5 percent were employed in trade, services, and industry, and only 3.1 percent in agriculture. The average population density is very high, about 3,700 persons per sq km.
Historical survey. Nothing is known about the early history of Singapore. Javanese and Chinese chronicles called the island Tumasik, a name derived from the Javanese masek (sea), until the late 14th century. It is believed that the city of Singapore was founded in 1299. The island was attacked by the Javanese king Kritanagra in 1275 and by Siamese warships in 1349; in the 14th century it formed part of the Indonesian empire of Ma-japahit. In the early 15th century the ruler of the Thai kingdom of Sukothai reigned over Singapore, Malacca, and Malaya. In 1819 the island, which now belonged to the sultan of Johore, became the property of the British East India Company, confirmed by a treaty in 1824. In 1826, Singapore, Penang, and the city of Malacca were united into the British colony of the Straits Settlements.
In the early 20th century, Singapore became an important center of the anti-imperialist struggle in Southeast Asia. During World War II (1939-45), it was occupied by Japanese troops from 1942 to 1945. After the war, as the British colonial empire was disintegrating, the anti-imperialist movement gained strength in Singapore. Political parties arose, including the People’s Action Party (PAP; founded 1954), and demanded a change in Singapore’s status. After the British-Singaporean negotiations of 1956–58, Singapore became a self-governing state within the British Commonwealth in 1959. Great Britain retained jurisdiction over defense and foreign relations and partly over internal security.
A new Singaporean government was formed in 1959. Headed by Lee Kuan Yew, leader of the PAP, it represents the interests of the moderate bourgeoisie. Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. On Aug. 9, 1965, owing to tensions between the Singaporean government and the federal government of Malaysia, Singapore left the federation. Singapore became a member of the United Nations in September 1965. On Dec. 22, 1965, Singapore was proclaimed a republic.
Diplomatic relations between Singapore and the USSR were established on June 1, 1968. In the 1976 elections, the PAP won all the seats in parliament. The leading trade union organization is the National Trades Union Congress, founded in 1961 and controlled by the PAP.
IU. F. KHRENOV
Economy. Singapore’s economy underwent a lengthy development under British colonial rule, when Singapore was an important strategic base of the British Empire. Singapore’s economic importance rested mainly on trade and transportation, owing to the island’s unusually favorable location on sea routes connecting the Pacific and Indian oceans. At that time, Singapore’s economy was based on large-scale maritime trade and auxiliary services, on entrepôt trade of such raw materials from neighboring countries as rubber, tin, coffee, and pepper, and on the industries that processed these goods. Singapore also reexported native manufactured goods and goods from other developed countries.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, after Singapore gained political independence, the government enacted a number of measures to encourage industry and expand foreign trade. Industrial development has led to changes in the colonial structure of Singapore’s economy and in the nature of its exporting and importing operations. In 1973, industry accounted for 26 percent of the gross national product, construction 6.7 percent, trade 27.1 percent, public services 6.2 percent, tourism 5.8 percent, and agriculture and fishing 2.8 percent.
In spite of large state capital investments since independence (26 percent of gross investments in fixed capital in 1971), the implementation of the state program of economic development remains dependent on private and foreign capital, which has been extensively invested. Foreign monopolies, which are principally British, Japanese, American, Australian, and West German, control new branches of industry, maritime trade, and banking and influence other branches of the economy. Both traditional and new branches of industry depend almost wholly on imported raw materials and semifinished products and manufacture goods primarily for export.
New industrial complexes are being built in Jurong and other regions of Singapore. Important new branches of industry include oil refining (36.9 million tons in 1974), the electronics, electrical engineering, and optical instruments industries, shipbuilding and ship repair, and the manufacture of industrial equipment. Singapore has a tin-smelting plant on Brani Island, several steel mills in Jurong, and woodworking, rubber, and textile industries. The food-processing industry produces palm oil, canned pineapples, and canned fish, and there are industries for the production of chemicals and construction materials. Native handicrafts, for example, souvenirs and toys, are made. The electric power output totaled 3.9 billion kilowatt-hours in 1974.
Only about 20 percent of Singapore’s area is under cultivation (1974); forests cover 8 percent of the island’s area. Small plantations of rubber trees yielded more than 1,000 tons of rubber in 1974. There is some cultivation of coconut palms, spices, tobacco, vegetables, and pineapples. Swine and poultry are raised. Fishing, practiced mainly in the coastal waters, yielded a catch of 19,000 tons in 1974.
Singapore has 26 km of railroads, 2,000 km of automobile roads, and 149,000 automobiles and 36,000 trucks (1974). The merchant marine consists of 500 vessels (1974). Singapore has an international airport and an international seaport. Construction of the new Jurong port complex began in 1969.
Foreign trade remains of major importance in the economy. The principal exports are rubber, petroleum products, machinery and transport equipment, textiles and garments, vegetable oil, pepper, timber, and tin. The main imports are petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and transport equipment, rubber, textiles, metals, and rice, vegetable oil, black pepper, and other food products. Local transit accounts for about one-third of the trade turnover. Singapore has an unfavorable balance of trade. The chief trading partners are Japan, Malaysia, the USA, Great Britain, Hong Kong, the Federal Republic of Germany, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia; trade and economic relations with the USSR and other socialist countries are developing. Singapore was visited by 1,234,000 tourists in 1974. The monetary unit is the Singapore dollar.
F. A. TRINICH
Armed forces. Singapore’s armed forces consist of ground troops, an air force, and a navy; their total strength is more than 24,000 (1975). There is also a police force of about 7,000. The minister of defense supervises the armed forces, which are maintained by military conscription; the term of active service lasts from 24 to 36 months.
Medicine and public health. In 1973 the birthrate in Singapore was 22 per 1,000 inhabitants, and the death rate, 5.5 per 1,000; infant mortality was 20.4 per 1,000 live births. Infectious and parasitic diseases predominate and are the chief causes of death. In 1973 there were 24 hospitals, with 9,000 beds, or about four per 1,000 inhabitants; 17 of these, with 7,400 beds, were government hospitals. Outpatient services are provided by polyclinical divisions of hospitals, 31 dispensaries, five mobile clinics, and 99 health-care centers for women and children, tuberculosis dispensaries, dermatology and venereology dispensaries, and leprosariums.
In 1971, Singapore had 1,500 doctors (one per 1,400 persons), of whom only 508 were in government medical institutions. There were 406 dentists (111 in government institutions), 273 pharmacists (53 in government institutions), and about 8,300 paramedical personnel (5,600 in government institutions). Doctors are trained at the faculties of medicine and dentistry and in the department of pharmacology of the University of Singapore, and paramedical personnel at four medical schools. In the 1974-75 fiscal year, public-health expenditures amounted to 9 percent of the state budget.
A. A. ROZOV
Education and cultural affairs. Education is compulsory for children from age six to 14. Instruction at the eight-year primary school is free. The secondary school system admits pupils who have completed the sixth grade of the primary school and consists of four-year incomplete secondary schools and two-year complete secondary schools. The study of English and of one of the other three official languages, Malay, Chinese, or Tamil, is compulsory. In 1974 there were 337,800 pupils in the primary schools and 174,000 pupils in secondary schools. Vocational schools, which admit pupils who have completed the eight-year primary schools and which have a one- to five-year course of instruction, had an enrollment of 18,100 students in 1973. There are also several vocational and technical institutes that admit graduates of the incomplete secondary schools; they had more than 7,000 students in 1973.
The higher educational institutions include the University of Singapore (founded 1949; present name adopted 1962), Nan-yang University (1953), the Singapore Polytechnic (1954), and the Ngee Ann Technical College, all located in the city of Singapore. Singapore’s libraries include the National Library (founded 1884; 520,000 volumes), the library of the University of Singapore (539,000 volumes), and the library of Nanyang University (1953; more than 200,000 volumes). The National Museum was founded in 1848.
Scientific institutions. The government agencies for directing and coordinating scientific research are the Ministry of Science and Technology (founded 1969), the Science Council of Singapore (1967), and the Science Center Board. Scientific research is financed by the government, by public and private foundations, by such national foundations as the National Institute of Public Health, the China Medical Board, and the Singapore Riding Club, and by foreign foundations, including the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. In the early 1970’s the total number of persons involved in research was about 1,000; the majority were on the faculties of universities, where most of the scientific research is conducted. The University of Singapore has a mathematics society and the Economic Research Center, and Nanyang University has an institute for Asian studies and institutes of natural sciences, mathematics, and business studies.
Scientific research is also conducted at The Singapore Polytechnic, the National Library, the National Museum, and the Botanic Gardens and at two stations for communications with artificial earth satellites (1971 and 1974). In addition, research is conducted at such regional scientific research institutions as the Fisheries Biology Unit (1968), the Regional Institute of Higher Education and Development (1970), and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (1968).
REFERENCESRudnev, V. S. Ocherki noveishei istorii Malaii, 1918–1957. Moscow, 1959.
Trufanov, I. P. Singapur. Moscow, 1967.
Chufrin, G. I. Singapur. Moscow, 1970.
Gullick, J. M. Malaysia. London, 1969.
Research Programs in Singapore. Singapore, 1970.
Books About Singapore: 1972. Singapore, 1975. [23–1221–]
the capital of the Republic of Singapore and one of the largest ports and commercial and industrial centers of Southeast Asia. Situated on the Singapore Strait, Singapore is linked by rail with the Malay Peninsula and has an international airport. The city occupies a low-lying area along the Ka-lang and Singapore rivers on the southern shore of Singapore Island and on a number of adjoining islets, including Brani. Population, 1.2 million (1974).
According to a Malay legend, Singapore was founded in 1299 by a prince of the Srivijaya empire, who named it the City of the Lion (in Sanskrit, Singa-pura). The city took part in the trade carried on by the Malay states. In 1365 it was destroyed by troops of the Majapahit empire. Singapore again became prominent after the British colonizers annexed Singapore Island. In 1832 they made the city the capital of the Straits Settlements. Singapore was the capital of British Malaya until 1946, and from 1946 to 1959, of the British colony of the same name.
Owing to its location on trade routes between Europe and the Far East, Singapore grew rapidly and became the largest port in southeast Asia for reexport trade. In the 1920’s, Great Britain began building its largest naval base in the Far East in Singapore; construction was completed in 1938. Singapore became the capital of the self-governing state of Singapore in 1959 and of the independent Republic of Singapore in December 1965. The British naval base was turned over to Singapore in the 1960’s.
Singapore’s strategic geographical position has greatly effected the city’s economic development, which has traditionally depended on foreign trade, principally reexport trade. The city has become a major market for natural rubber and is one of the world’s largest rubber exchanges. It is also an important market for coconut-palm products, wood, spices, fruit, coffee, tin, and petroleum. Beginning in the 1970’s, traditional goods have been supplemented by products of new branches of industry, including radio electronics, electrical engineering, and transportation equipment, textiles, and petroleum products. Singapore’s port has one of the world’s largest freight turnovers (63 million tons in 1974) and is a fueling base for ships. The city has become a financial center, and many capitalist banks have branches there.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Singapore’s economy became altered by new industrial construction and the modernization and expansion of existing industries. Shipbuilding and ship repair, which serve mainly the export trade, have developed. There has also been expansion of the oil-refining, radio-electronics, and optical-instruments industries and of the metal-working, textile, and garment industries. In addition, Singapore has cement, chemical, rubber, woodworking, and food-processing industries. Fishing is done on a commercial basis.
Singapore is composed of sharply contrasting districts. The splendidly landscaped administrative and business center and the European district, laid out beginning in 1819 in a regular pattern by a group of architects that included T. Raffles, are dominated by eclectic 19th-century buildings and some examples of modern architecture. The waterfront Queen Elizabeth Walk is lined with multistoried buildings housing stores, banks, and offices that are mainly functionalist in style. The Chinese quarter has narrow streets and low buildings that combine dwellings and shops, and the Malay quarter has houses on piles and mosques.
Singapore’s higher educational institutions are the University of Singapore, which has an economic research center, Nan-yang University, the Singapore Polytechnic, and the Ngee Ann Technical College. Also located in Singapore are the Botanic Gardens, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, the Singapore Institute of Architects, a number of scientific societies and associations, and the National Library. Cultural institutions include the National Museum, the National Theater, and the Victoria Theater. [23–1226–]
Official name: Republic of Singapore
Capital city: Singapore
Internet country code: .sg
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
National anthem: “Majulah Singapura” (Onward Singapore)
National flower: Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid
National symbol: Lion head
Geographical description: Southeastern Asia, islands between Malaysia and Indonesia
Total area: 271 sq. mi. (704 sq. km.)
Climate: Tropical; hot, humid, rainy; two distinct monsoon seasons - Northeastern monsoon (December to March) and Southwestern monsoon (June to September); inter-monsoon - frequent afternoon and early evening thunderstorms
Nationality: noun: Singaporean(s); adjective: Singapore
Population: 4,553,009 (July 2007 CIA est.)
Ethnic groups: Chinese 76.8%, Malay 13.9%, Indian 7.9%, other 1.4%
Languages spoken: Mandarin 35%, English 23%, Malay 14.1%, Hokkien 11.4%, Cantonese 5.7%, Teochew 4.9%, Tamil 3.2%, other Chinese dialects 1.8%, other 0.9%
Religions: Buddhist 42.5%, Muslim 14.9%, Taoist 8.5%, Hindu 4%, Catholic 4.8%, other Christian 9.8%, other 0.7%, none 14.8%