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SINGAPORE

Singapore

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island country and city-state in maritime Southeast Asia.

Singapore (/ˈsɪŋ(ɡ)əpɔːr/  SING-(g)ə-por), officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island country and city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It is located about one degree of latitude (137 kilometres or 85 miles) north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bordering the Strait of Malacca to the west, the Singapore Strait to the south, the South China Sea to the east, and the Straits of Johor to the north. The country’s territory comprises one main island63 satellite islands and islets, and one outlying islet; the combined area of these has increased by approximately 25% since the country’s independence as a result of extensive land reclamation projects. It has the second highest population density of any country in the world, although there are numerous green and recreational spaces as a result of urban planning. With a multicultural population and in recognition of the cultural identities of the major ethnic groups within the nation, Singapore has four official languagesEnglishMalayMandarin, and Tamil. English is the lingua franca, with its exclusive use in numerous public servicesMulti-racialism is enshrined in the constitution and continues to shape national policies in education, housing, and politics.

Singapore’s history dates back at least eight hundred years, having been a maritime emporium known as Temasek and subsequently a major constituent part of several successive thalassocratic empires. Its contemporary era began in 1819, when Stamford Raffles established Singapore as an entrepôt trading post of the British Empire. In 1867, the colonies in Southeast Asia were reorganised, and Singapore came under the direct control of Britain as part of the Straits Settlements. During World War II, Singapore was occupied by Japan in 1942 and returned to British control as a separate Crown colony following Japan’s surrender in 1945. Singapore gained self-governance in 1959 and, in 1963, became part of the new federation of Malaysia, alongside MalayaNorth Borneo, and SarawakIdeological differences, most notably the perceived encroachment of the egalitarian “Malaysian Malaysia” political ideology led by Lee Kuan Yew into the other constituent entities of Malaysia—at the perceived expense of the bumiputera and the policies of Ketuanan Melayu—eventually led to Singapore’s expulsion from the federation two years later; Singapore became an independent sovereign country in 1965.

After early years of turbulence and despite lacking natural resources and a hinterland, the nation rapidly developed to become one of the Four Asian Tigers. With its growth based on international trade and economic globalisation, it integrated itself with the world economy through free trade with minimal-to-no trade barriers or tariffsexport-oriented industrialisation, and the large accumulation of received foreign direct investmentsforeign exchange reserves, and assets held by sovereign wealth funds. As a highly developed country, it has the highest GDP per capita (PPP) in the world. Identified as a tax haven, Singapore is the only country in Asia with a AAA sovereign credit rating from all major rating agencies. It is a major aviationfinancial, and maritime shipping hub and has consistently been ranked as one of the most expensive cities to live in for expatriates and foreign workers. Singapore ranks highly in key social indicators: educationhealthcarequality of lifepersonal safetyinfrastructure, and housing, with a home-ownership rate of 88 percent. Singaporeans enjoy one of the longest life expectanciesfastest Internet connection speedslowest infant mortality rates, and lowest levels of corruption in the world.

Good to Know

Country
Singapore
Visa Requirements
Visa in not needed
Languages spoken
English Malay Mandarin Tamil
National language
Malay
Area (km2)
734.3 km2

History

In 1299, according to the Malay Annals, the Kingdom of Singapura was founded on the island by Sang Nila Utama.[26] Although the historicity of the accounts as given in the Malay Annals is the subject of academic debates,[27] it is nevertheless known from various documents that Singapore in the 14th century, then known as Temasek, was a trading port under the influence of both the Majapahit Empire and the Siamese kingdoms,[28] and was a part of the Indosphere.[29][30][31][32][33] These Indianised kingdoms were characterised by surprising resilience, political integrity and administrative stability.[34] Historical sources also indicate that around the end of the 14th century, its ruler Parameswara was attacked by either the Majapahit or the Siamese, forcing him to move to Malacca where he founded the Sultanate of Malacca.[35] Archaeological evidence suggests that the main settlement on Fort Canning was abandoned around this time, although a small trading settlement continued in Singapore for some time afterwards.[18] In 1613, Portuguese raiders burned down the settlement, and the island faded into obscurity for the next two centuries.[36] By then, Singapore was nominally part of the Johor Sultanate.[37] The wider maritime region and much trade was under Dutch control for the following period after the Dutch conquest of Malacca.[38]

The British governor Stamford Raffles arrived in Singapore on 28 January 1819 and soon recognised the island as a natural choice for the new port.[41] The island was then nominally ruled by Tengku Abdul Rahman, the Sultan of Johor, who was controlled by the Dutch and the Bugis.[42] However, the Sultanate was weakened by factional division: Abdul Rahman, the Temenggong of Johor to Tengku Abdul Rahman, as well as his officials, were loyal to the Sultan’s elder brother Tengku Long, who was living in exile in Penyengat IslandRiau Islands. With the Temenggong’s help, Raffles managed to smuggle Tengku Long back into Singapore. Raffles offered to recognise Tengku Long as the rightful Sultan of Johor, under the title of Sultan Hussein, as well as provide him with a yearly payment of $5000 and another $3000 to the Temenggong; in return, Sultan Hussein would grant the British the right to establish a trading post on Singapore.[43] The Treaty of Singapore was signed on 6 February 1819.[44][45]