About Singapore country profile: Map, Postal Codes, Tourist, History Update 09/22/2023 

Singapore flag

Singapore, officially known as the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island nation situated in Southeast Asia. It is positioned off the southern tip of the Malay peninsula and is approximately 137 kilometers north of the equator. Singapore Update 09/22/2023 

The country encompasses a diamond-shaped main island and around 60 smaller islands. It is separated from Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Johor to the north and from Indonesia’s Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to the south.

Singapore boasts a remarkably high level of urbanization, resulting in limited primary vegetation. To expand its territory, Singapore has been engaged in ongoing reclamation activities. Let’s explore the fascinating things in Singapore together with TripWordwide.

About Singapore country profile: Map, Postal Codes, Tourist, History Update 09/22/2023

Singapore map
Singapore map

The history of Singapore’s islands dates back to the 2nd century BC when they were initially inhabited and later became part of various indigenous nations.

In 1819, Stamford Raffles, a British politician, established Singapore as a trading post for the British East India Company with the approval of the Kingdom of Johor.

British sovereignty over the island was established in 1824, and by 1826, Singapore had become one of the Straits Settlements under the British Empire.

As international trade and shipping thrived in the subsequent years, Singapore experienced rapid development. By the early 1900s, it had transformed into a modern and prosperous international city in Southeast Asia, comparable to prominent port cities such as Rotterdam, Kobe, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

During World War II, Singapore experienced a brief occupation by the Empire of Japan. However, after the war, it asserted its independence from Great Britain in 1963 and joined other former British territories to form the Union of Malaysia.

Word War II
Word War II

Unfortunately, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia just two years after joining. Since then, Singapore has undergone remarkable economic growth and is now recognized as one of the “Four Asian Dragons,” along with South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Singapore has emerged as a prominent global commercial hub, ranked as the fourth largest financial center and boasting one of the five busiest seaports worldwide.

Its economy is highly diversified and globalized, relying heavily on trade, particularly exports, trade, and manufacturing, which accounted for 26% of its GDP in 2005. In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore held the second highest per capita income in the world in 2020. The country consistently achieves high rankings in various international assessments related to economic quality, public education, healthcare, government transparency, and economic competitiveness.

As a unitary multi-party parliamentary republic, Singapore follows a unicameral parliamentary government based on the Westminster System adopted from the United Kingdom.

Since attaining self-governance in 1959, the People’s Action Party has won every election. The current population of Singapore exceeds 5 million, with approximately 2 million residents being foreign-born. Known as a nation of immigrants, Singapore showcases a diverse ethnic composition.

Attaining self-governance in 1959
Attaining self-governance in 1959

However, ethnic groups of Asian origin dominate, with 75% of the population having Chinese ancestry, alongside significant minorities of Malays, Indians, Eurasians, and others. The Singaporean government actively promotes cultural pluralism through a series of official policies, facilitated by the country’s four official languages: English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil.

Singapore holds the distinction of being one of the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and hosts the APEC Secretariat. It also participates in the East Asia Summit, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth, and numerous other major international organizations.

With an exceptionally high average standard of living, quality of life, and human development index (HDI), Singapore ranks among the world’s wealthiest nations. In terms of GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity, it holds the second position globally (2020).

The country is renowned as one of the most desirable places for the ultra-rich to live and owns the world’s second most powerful passport (2021).

Singapore frequently tops global rankings in areas such as competitiveness and is considered the most developed country in Southeast Asia. Despite its small geographical size and population, Singapore exerts significant influence in global affairs, particularly in the economy. Many analysts consider it a regional power in Southeast Asia and a minor global power.

The origin of the Singapore name Update 09/22/2023

The name “Singapore” in English originates from the Malay word Singapura, which, in turn, is derived from the Sanskrit word सिंहपुर (Sīnghapura), meaning “Lion City.” However, it is widely accepted that lions never inhabited the island, and the animal observed by Sang Nila Utama, the founder of ancient Singapore, was likely a tiger instead. The Chinese name for the country is 新加坡 (Xīn jiā pō), which serves as a transliteration of “Sin-ga-pore” for Chinese readers.

During the period of Japanese occupation, Singapore underwent a name change to Syonanto (昭南島, Shōnan-tō) in Japanese, which translates to “Chiaonan Island” in English.

The name "Singapore" in English
The name “Singapore” in English

This name was abbreviated from 昭和に手に入れた南の島 (Shōwa ni te ni haireta Minami no Shima), meaning “The southern island acquired during the Shōwa era.” Singapore is also occasionally referred to as the “Garden City” due to its abundance of parks and tree-lined streets. Furthermore, the moniker “Little Red Dot” emerged when the current Indonesian president, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, depicted Singapore as a small red dot on the map, overlooking its significance.

History Update 09/22/2023 

The earliest known settlement in Singapore was a trading outpost called Temasek, belonging to the Srivijaya Empire. During the 11th century, the Chola Empire from South India, led by Emperor Rajendra Chola I, invaded the island while it was still under Srivijaya’s rule. However, in 1613, Portuguese pirates destroyed the settlement, plunging the island into obscurity for the following two centuries.

The Rise as Asia’s Largest International Seaport (1820-1960)

In the early 19th century, the British Empire sought a strategic seaport for the region. British merchants needed a safe haven to rest and safeguard the British Empire’s merchant fleet, while also countering Dutch competition in the area. Singapore emerged as the ideal choice for the British due to its prime geographical location, situated at the gateway of the Strait of Malacca.

In 1819, British statesman Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived and represented the British East India Company in signing an agreement with King Hussein Shah of the Kingdom of Johor. The agreement aimed to develop the southern part of Singapore into a trading post for the British Empire.

Subsequently, in 1824, Great Britain obtained full control of the entire island through another treaty with the King and Temenggong (ruler). Singapore then became part of the Straits Settlements, under British India’s jurisdiction, and in 1836, it became the capital of the territory.

Before Raffles’ arrival, Singapore was home to only around 1,000 inhabitants, mostly indigenous Malays with a small Chinese community. However, with British investments pouring in since the 1830s, Singapore swiftly rose to prominence as the primary trading port in Southeast Asia.

Two key factors contributed to its success over other colonial port cities and major ports in the region. Firstly, its strategic geographic location made it a crucial passage for merchant ships traveling between China, India, and Europe.

Secondly, its connection to the British Empire, which was the leading global power during the 19th century, in terms of both economy and colonial holdings. Singapore’s prosperity was rooted in its advantageous geography and its position within the British colonial system.

By the 1830s, Singapore had become one of the three major trading ports in Southeast Asia, alongside Manila in the Philippines and Batavia (now Jakarta) on the island of Java. Its status as a free port and favorable location attracted a bustling trade.

Historical records describe ships flocking to Singapore like bees drawn to honey, eager to partake in the feast of free trade. British merchants established shops, shipping lines, and service companies, while Chinese merchants were enticed by the thriving trade, the protection provided by the British Navy, and Singapore’s strategic location. Malay, Indian, and Arab merchants also flocked to Singapore from neighboring ports.

The city quickly captured a significant portion of regional trade in Southeast Asia and became a major port of call for merchant ships en route to China and Japan.

By 1860, Singapore’s population exceeded 80,000, with over half being Chinese. Many immigrants arrived to work in rubber plantations, and after the 1870s, the island transformed into a global hub for rubber exports.

Singapore’s status as a free port gave it a decisive edge over other colonial port cities such as Jakarta or Manila, attracting Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Arab merchants to conduct business there. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 further boosted trade in Singapore.

By 1880, over 1.5 million tons of cargo passed through Singapore annually, with approximately 80% of goods transported by steamships. Towards the end of the 19th century, Singapore had become the most prosperous international seaport in Southeast Asia.

During his visit to Singapore in 1922, Pham Quynh, a prominent minister of the Nguyen Dynasty, documented the vibrant scene he witnessed as follows:

“It is truly a breathtaking sight to behold this bustling port city. While the gates of Hai Phong and Saigon in our own country are sizable, they pale in comparison to the grandeur of Singapore’s gates. The docks stretch for several thousand meters, lined with ships from all corners of the world, serving as a crucial passage for trade between Asia, India, and Europe… Alongside the main thoroughfares, one can find numerous streets adorned with pubs and hotels, perpetually abuzz with guests and pedestrians…

Singapore can be divided into two distinct areas: Business Street, catering to merchants, and West Street, where Europeans have built their splendid villas. West Street is equally vibrant but possesses a more regal ambiance. The British merchants in Singapore inhabit magnificent castles, occasionally spanning entire streets. Beyond the bustling trading quarters, private residences follow the British “villa” style, situated on elevated grounds, surrounded by expansive gardens where cars effortlessly navigate… It is truly remarkable in Singapore; one cannot distinguish between private cars and rental cars, as they all appear to be in constant motion. When I arrived in Saigon, I believed Catinat Street had a considerable number of cars, but Singapore surpasses it by far. Every street in Singapore exudes the same grandeur and beauty as Catinat Street.”

World War I had minimal impact on Singapore. The most significant local military event during the war was the 1915 mutiny led by Muslim Indian sepoy soldiers stationed in Singapore. Fearing deployment to fight the Ottoman Empire, these soldiers rebelled, resulting in the killing of their officers and several British civilians. They were eventually subdued by troops from Johor and Burma.

After World War I, the British government invested substantial resources in constructing a naval base in Singapore as a deterrent to the growing ambitions of the Empire of Japan. Singapore was deemed the most crucial commercial asset in Asia by Britain and served as the primary naval base protecting British interests in Southeast Asia, as well as providing defense for British territories like Australia and New Zealand. To safeguard this invaluable city, numerous barracks were erected to house tens of thousands of British soldiers. Completed in 1939, the British naval base in Singapore boasted sufficient fuel reserves to sustain the entire British navy for six months. Prime Minister Winston Churchill regarded Singapore as the “Eastern Strait of Gibraltar” due to its immense strategic importance.

During World War II, Singapore became a prime target for the Empire of Japan. Imperial Japanese troops invaded British Malaya, leading to the Battle of Singapore. Ultimately, the British forces were defeated, and on February 15, 1942, they surrendered, resulting in the capture of nearly 90,000 British troops stationed there. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously referred to it as “the worst disaster and the greatest surrender in British history.” Following the fall of Singapore, estimates suggest that between 5,000 and 25,000 Chinese individuals were massacred. The British recaptured the island in September 1945 after Japan’s surrender.

In the first general election of 1955, David Marshall, the pro-independence leader of the Labor Front, emerged victorious. He led a delegation to London to demand full autonomy for Singapore, which the British rejected. Subsequently, David Marshall resigned, and Lam Huu Phuc assumed his position. Phuc implemented policies aimed at convincing the British to grant Singapore complete internal autonomy in all matters except defense and foreign affairs.

Independent separation (1960 – present)

In the May 1959 elections, the People’s Action Party achieved a resounding victory, leading to Singapore becoming an internally autonomous state within the Commonwealth. Lee Kuan Yew assumed the role of the nation’s first Prime Minister.

Governor-General William Allmond Codrington Goode initially served as the Yang di-Pertuan Negara (“head of state”), later succeeded by Yusof bin Ishak, who became Singapore’s first President in 1965.

During the 1950s, Chinese communists, closely associated with Chinese merchants and schools, launched an armed rebellion against the Malayan government, which resulted in the Malayan Emergency, followed by the Malaysian Communist Uprising (1968-1989).

The events of the 1954 nationwide service riot, the Chinese high school riot, and the Welfare bus riot in Singapore are all intertwined with these circumstances. The Singapore government, during this period, took action against political organizations and individuals deemed sympathetic to the Communist movement in Singapore.

A referendum on Singapore’s inclusion in the Federation of Malaya was conducted in 1962, leading to Singapore becoming a member of the Federation of Malaysia in September 1963 as an autonomous state.

However, Singapore was expelled from the federation on August 7, 1965, following political disagreements between the state government and the federal council in Kuala Lumpur. Two days later, on August 9, 1965, Singapore gained independence, which is now celebrated as National Day. Malaysia was the first country to recognize Singapore’s independence.

Independence brought with it the challenges of self-sufficiency, and Singapore encountered various difficulties during this period, including unemployment, housing shortages, and limited land and natural resources such as oil.

According to World Bank statistics, at the time of independence, around 70% of Singaporean households lived in crowded and unsanitary conditions, and half of the population was illiterate. In 1962, Singapore’s GDP per capita reached $516, the highest level in Southeast Asia but still relatively low compared to European countries.

During his tenure as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990, Lee Kuan Yew gradually addressed unemployment, inflation, and raised living standards through an extensive public housing program.

The country’s economic infrastructure was developed, racial tensions were mitigated, and a national defense system was established. In addition, in the 1960s and 1970s, Singapore’s economy benefitted from supplying necessities, fuel, weapons, and military vehicles to the American expeditionary forces in Vietnam.

Particularly in terms of petroleum and fuel, Singapore sold goods worth $600 million each month to the US, with income from logistics jobs for the US military serving as an initial source for Singapore’s economic development.

Singapore transitioned from a developing country to a developed one in the late twentieth century. In 1990, Ngo Tac Dong assumed the position of Prime Minister, facing challenges such as the economic impact of the East Asian financial crisis in 1997, the spread of SARS in 2003, and terrorist threats from Jemaah Islamiah following the events of September 11 and the Bali bombings.

In 2004, Lee Kuan Yew’s eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong, became the third Prime Minister. Despite remarkable economic growth, the People’s Action Party (PAP) experienced its worst election result in history during the 2011 election, winning only 60% of the vote. On March 23, 2015, Lee Kuan Yew passed away.


Singapore is a diamond-shaped island encompassed by numerous smaller islands. Two roads connect Singapore to the Malaysian state of Johor: the Johor-Singapore Causeway, a man-made road to the north that crosses the Tebrau Strait, and the Tuas Link, a western bridge to Johor.

Singapore is comprised of a total of 63 large and small islands, with Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin, and Sentosa being the largest, alongside several other small islands. The highest point in Singapore is Bukit Timah Hill, standing at an altitude of 166 meters.

The urban area, formerly centered around the Singapore River, has evolved into the commercial hub of Singapore, while the remaining regions consist of humid tropical forests or agricultural land.

Since the 1960s, the government has constructed numerous new towns in outlying areas, resulting in a Singapore with closely-knit housing throughout, although the Central Region remains the most vibrant.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority serves as the government department responsible for urban planning activities, focusing on efficient land utilization, distribution, and traffic coordination. The authority has developed detailed plans for land use in 55 areas.

Singapore has expanded its land area through land reclamation from hills, seabeds, and neighboring countries. Consequently, Singapore’s land area has grown from 581.5 square kilometers in the 1960s to 697.25 square kilometers today, with projections indicating a potential increase of another 100 square kilometers by 2030.


Located just 137 km from the equator, Singapore experiences a typical humid equatorial climate with relatively uniform seasons.

This climate type is characterized by stable temperatures and pressures, high humidity, and abundant rainfall. Throughout the year, temperatures remain consistently high with minimal fluctuations, ranging between 22°C and 31°C (72°F–88°F). The relative humidity averages around 90% in the morning and 60% in the afternoon.

During periods of heavy rainfall, the relative humidity often reaches 100%. The recorded highest and lowest temperatures are 18.4°C (65.1°F) and 37.8°C (100.0°F) respectively.

Urbanization has resulted in the disappearance of many once-thriving tropical rainforests, with the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve being the only remaining one. However, Singapore has preserved numerous parks through human intervention, such as the National Botanic Gardens.

As the country lacks natural freshwater sources from rivers and lakes, its primary water supply is derived from collected rainfall stored in reservoirs or catchment areas. Rainwater contributes approximately 50% of the water supply, while the remainder is imported from Malaysia or obtained through water recycling, which involves the desalination process. To reduce dependence on imports, several water recycling plants are being proposed and constructed.

Between July and October, thick smoke plumes from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia often drift over Singapore, primarily originating from Sumatra Island. Although Singapore does not observe daylight saving time (DST), it follows the GMT+8 time zone, which is one hour ahead of its geographical location.

Consequently, Singapore experiences unique sunrises and sunsets during late January and February, with the sun rising at around 7:20 a.m. and setting at approximately 7:25 p.m. In July, the sun sets at around 7:15 p.m., similar to cities at much higher latitudes like Taipei and Tokyo.

The earliest sunrises and sunsets occur in October and November, when the sun rises at 6:45 a.m. and sets at 6:50 p.m. Singapore remains highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change, particularly in relation to rising sea levels, posing significant threats to the nation’s vulnerability.


Singapore operates as a parliamentary republic, following the Westminster system, with a unicameral Parliament representing constituencies. The country’s constitution establishes a representative democratic political system.

According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report, Singapore is classified as “partially free,”while The Economist ranks it as a “mixed regime,” placing it third out of four in Their Democracy Index.

Transparency International consistently recognizes Singapore as one of the least corrupt nations globally.

Executive power in Singapore rests with the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, and to a lesser extent, the President. The President is elected through universal suffrage and possesses veto power over specific executive decisions, such as the use of national reserves and the appointment of judges, although the role is largely ceremonial. 

The Parliament of Singapore serves as the legislative branch of the government. It consists of elected, non-elected, and appointed members. Elected members represent constituencies and are chosen based on a “majority of seats” system.

Since Singapore attained self-governance in 1959, the People’s Action Party has consistently secured a substantial majority in parliamentary elections.  Singapore’s legal system is rooted in English common law, but with notable local variations. The jury system was abolished in 1970, placing judicial decisions solely in the hands of appointed judges. 

Singapore imposes stringent penalties, including judicial corporal punishment such as caning or whipping in public places, which can be applied to offenses like rape, sexual harassment, public disturbance, vandalism, and certain immigration violations. Drug offenses are severely punished, including the possibility of the death penalty, even for foreign nationals.

Amnesty International has raised concerns that certain legal provisions in Singapore conflict with the principle of presumption of innocence and claims that Singapore “likely has the highest execution rate relative to its population” in the world.

The Singapore government disputes Amnesty International’s assertions. In a 2008 study, Singapore and Hong Kong were ranked highest in Asia for the quality of their justice systems. 

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, explaining the rationale behind Singapore’s stringent laws despite objections from Western organizations, remarked.

Allowing individuals unrestrained freedom to act destructively would harm social order. In the East, the primary aim has always been a stable social order that enables everyone to enjoy their freedom. Such freedom can only exist within a stable society, not in a state of turmoil and anarchy.

Human beings require a moral sense of right and wrong. Some actions are inherently evil. It is simply easy for someone to do wrong, so we must prevent them from doing so. Western societies have abandoned the moral foundations of society, believing that a good government can solve all problems—an idea that we in the East do not share. Presently, Singapore maintains the facade of a democracy; however, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has exerted significant political dominance since independence by imposing barriers that hinder opposition political parties. Currently, the PAP holds over 90% of the seats in the National Assembly.

Foreign Relations

Singapore’s foreign policy is centered around maintaining security in Southeast Asia and the surrounding regions, with a key emphasis on political and economic stability.

The country holds diplomatic relations with over 180 sovereign nations. As a founding member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Singapore strongly supports initiatives such as the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the ASEAN Investment Area.

Former Prime Minister Ngo Tac Dong even proposed the formation of an ASEAN Economic Community, a step towards creating a single market in Southeast Asia.

Singapore actively participates in various regional organizations, including the Eurasian Conference, the East Asia-Latin America Cooperation Forum, the 21st Asian Major Cities System, and the East Asia Summit. Additionally, Singapore is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Singapore maintains robust bilateral relationships with fellow ASEAN members, although occasional disagreements have arisen.

Relations with Malaysia and Indonesia have sometimes faced strains, such as disputes over the supply of clean water to Singapore and the Singapore Army’s access to Malaysian airspace.

Border issues persist with both Malaysia and Indonesia, and the sale of sea sand to Singapore has been banned by these countries due to disagreements concerning Singapore’s land reclamation efforts.

Past disputes have been resolved through the International Court of Justice. The problem of piracy in the Strait of Malacca remains a shared concern among all three countries.Singapore enjoys close economic ties with Brunei, and the two nations share a fixed currency value.

Singapore established its first diplomatic contact with China in the 1970s, leading to full diplomatic relations between the two countries in the 1990s. Since then, Singapore and China have played pivotal roles in strengthening ASEAN-China relations through various negotiations.

Singapore and the United States have longstanding close ties, particularly in defense, economy, health, and education. In 2010, the United States was Singapore’s third-largest trading partner, following China (2nd) and Malaysia (1st).

The two countries have a free trade agreement in place, and Singapore considers its relationship with the United States as an important balance to China’s influence.

Foreign Policy Update 09/22/2023 

Singapore’s foreign policy is characterized by its awareness of the small water crisis and its pursuit of a great water balance. As a nation with limited resources and strategic depth, Singapore’s elites perceive it as a vulnerable “small red dot” on the world map.

This perception drives the country’s dependence on a certain major power and shapes its politics, economics, and diplomacy based on a “crisis culture.”

Singapore also faces challenges due to differences in religion, race, and lack of friendship with neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia, leading to a feeling of being “besieged” by ill-willed forces.

The pursuit of a great water balance is a key aspect of Singapore’s foreign policy. The country’s leaders leverage the rivalries among major powers to maintain peace and stability, allowing them to develop internal resources.

Singapore aims to prevent any single power in the region from becoming overwhelmingly dominant, as it could lead to dependence on that power.

Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew emphasized the importance of a multipolar situation in Southeast Asia, where the roles of major powers are balanced, enabling small countries to operate freely.

Singapore seeks economic aid and multilateral political support from major countries, avoiding alliances and military entanglements to navigate the complex dynamics of great-power competition. This approach aims to safeguard national security and sovereignty.

In Lee Kuan Yew’s diplomatic concept, establishing diplomatic relations with the United States and Japan plays a crucial role in Singapore’s major power balancing diplomacy.

However, Singapore does not desire U.S. hegemony or authoritarianism in East and Southeast Asia. The country’s great water balance strategy is selective and decentralized, with a focus on an American-centered balance.

Singapore’s ultimate goals are to protect national security and promote economic prosperity. By aligning its interests with those of the United States in Southeast Asia, Singapore aims to maximize its own benefits.

While Singapore also seeks to balance the influence of other major powers like the Soviet Union and China, it primarily aims to avoid feeling suffocated by the overwhelming dominance of U.S. forces.

China’s growing strength in the East Sea (South China Sea) presents a challenge to the established balance of major powers in Southeast Asia, which has been predominantly influenced by the United States. This evolving dynamic affects Singapore’s long-standing balanced approach.

The Reciprocal Relationship Between ASEAN and Singapore

In order to safeguard Singapore’s interests and ensure the security of both Singapore and the Southeast Asia region, Singapore actively promotes the participation of countries outside the region in the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Former Prime Minister Ngo Tac Dong likened Singapore to a small fish that must swim with other fish, blending in and relying on the formation of a school to protect itself. This “school of fish” strategy has become a vital component of Singapore’s security approach.

Guided by this theory, Singapore has been at the forefront of advocating for economic and political cooperation among ASEAN member countries, while also expanding the scope of cooperation to encompass regional security.

ASEAN serves as a networking platform for leaders in Southeast Asia, playing a significant role in maintaining regional stability. Furthermore, ASEAN provides an exceptional diplomatic platform for Singapore, granting the nation greater influence in international affairs.

As stated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, when Singapore and other ASEAN countries unite as a collective, it commands respect from major powers. Conversely, without the support of ASEAN, Singapore’s voice may go unheard.

Singapore’s Foreign Minister, George Yong-Boon Yeo, emphasized the significance of ASEAN by stating that Singapore considers it as a crucial focal point. Singapore recognizes itself as the hub of ASEAN, aligning the interests of ASEAN with its own.

The survival, security, and economic strategy of Singapore are intricately linked to those of ASEAN. The collective strength of ASEAN enhances Singapore’s position, reinforcing its ability to shape regional dynamics and pursue its national interests effectively.

Military Update 09/22/2023 

Singapore boasts a technologically advanced military, which is considered the most advanced in Southeast Asia. Comprising the Singapore Army, the Republic of Singapore Navy, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force, the country’s defense forces play a vital role in ensuring national independence.

Singapore’s defense philosophy is centered around diplomacy and deterrence, and this principle has become deeply ingrained in its culture, with all citizens expected to contribute to national defense. The government allocates approximately 4.9% of the national GDP and a significant portion of its overall spending to defense.

Following its independence, Singapore initially had two infantry regiments led by British officers. However, recognizing the insufficiency of this force in safeguarding the nation’s security, Singapore prioritized the development of its army. British troops were gradually withdrawn from Singapore, with their presence reduced to a symbolic representation consisting of a small contingent of British, Australian, and New Zealand servicemen. The final British soldiers departed in March 1976, and New Zealand soldiers followed suit in 1989.

During the early stages of its independence, Singapore received substantial support from Israel, a country not recognized by Malaysia, Indonesia, or Brunei. The primary concern at the time was a potential invasion by Malaysia. To establish the Singapore Armed Forces, Israeli Defense Forces commanders were tasked with organizing the military from scratch, and Israeli instructors were brought in to train Singaporean soldiers. Singapore adopted a conscription and reserve force system modeled after Israel’s, and the two nations continue to maintain close security ties, with Singapore being one of the largest customers of Israeli weaponry.

The Singapore Armed Forces are designed to address a wide spectrum of challenges, both conventional and unconventional. The Department of Science and Technology of National Defense plays a pivotal role in identifying capabilities for the army. Due to Singapore’s geographical limitations, the armed forces must have comprehensive plans to repel an attack, as retreating and regrouping is not a viable option. The country’s small population size also influences its military approach, resulting in a smaller active force but a larger reserve component. Training activities, including live-fire and amphibious exercises, are often conducted on smaller islands to minimize risks in the main island and urban areas. Larger-scale exercises, deemed too hazardous to carry out in the region, have been conducted in Taiwan since 1975. Additionally, Singapore frequently engages in training activities with foreign forces, typically once or twice a week.

Given its limited airspace and territory, the Republic of Singapore Air Force maintains several overseas bases in countries such as Australia, the United States, and France. Notably, the 130th Squadron is located at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia, the 126th Squadron at Oakey Army Aviation Center in Queensland, and the 150th Squadron at Cazaux Air Base in southern France. Furthermore, the Republic of Singapore Air Force has various overseas divisions in the United States, including locations such as San Diego, Marana, Grand Prairie, and Luke Air Force Base.

The Singapore Armed Forces have deployed troops to support operations beyond its borders, including missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, both in military and civilian capacities. Within the region, the Singapore Armed Forces have played a role in stabilizing East Timor and providing assistance to Aceh in Indonesia following the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami. They have also contributed to relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Singapore is a member of the Five-Power Defense Arrangement (FPDA), a military alliance involving Britain, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Australia.

Economy Update 09/22/2023 

Singapore, despite its lack of natural resources, relies heavily on imports for raw materials. The country possesses minimal reserves of coal, lead, lava, and clay, and faces challenges related to limited freshwater supply and narrow arable land. Agriculture is not a prominent sector, with rubber, coconuts, vegetables, and fruit trees being the primary crops.

Consequently, Singapore needs to import food and agricultural products to meet domestic demand. However, Singapore has established exceptional infrastructure and developed industries, positioning itself as a global leader.

Notably, the nation excels in seaports, shipbuilding and repair, oil refining, and the processing and assembly of advanced machinery. It boasts 12 major industrial zones, with Jurong Industrial Park being the largest. Singapore has earned recognition as a major producer of electronic computer drives and semiconductors.

Industrial zones primarily focus on processing and exporting goods. Additionally, Singapore hosts numerous prominent banks, insurance companies, and securities firms, solidifying its status as the financial hub of Southeast Asia. The country is also a key player in oil refining and serves as a transit hub in Asia. Furthermore, Singapore is at the forefront of the transition to a knowledge-based economy.

Singapore operates a highly developed market economy that has evolved from its extensive history of port trade. Alongside Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan, Singapore is known as one of Asia’s Four Economic Tigers and has surpassed comparable nations in terms of GDP per capita.

Between 1965 and 1995, Singapore achieved an average annual growth rate of approximately 6%, significantly improving the living standards of its population.

From 2017 to 2020, the growth rates were 3.66% (2017), 1.10% (2018), -4.14% (2019), and 7.61% (2020). Singapore’s economy is renowned for its freedom, innovation, competitiveness, dynamism, and business-friendly environment.

The country ranked as the world’s second freest economy in the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom and has consistently topped the Ease of Doing Business Index over the past decade. It is also recognized as one of the least corrupt countries globally, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index, alongside New Zealand and Scandinavian nations.

Trade and services form the backbone of Singapore’s economy, contributing approximately 40% to its national income. Since the late 1980s, Singapore has achieved one of the highest growth rates globally, reaching 10% in 1994 and 8.9% in 1995.

However, the currency crisis in the late 1990s resulted in a 20% depreciation of the Singapore dollar and a significant drop in economic growth to 1.3% in 1998.

The country experienced a rapid recovery starting in 1999, with a growth rate of 5.5%, followed by over 9% in 2000. Nonetheless, Singapore faced economic challenges due to events such as the September 11 attacks, the global economic downturn, and the SARS epidemic.

Consequently, the economy contracted in 2001 (-2.2%), with modest growth rates of 3% in 2002 and 1.1% in 2003. Since 2004, Singapore has exhibited robust growth, reaching 8.4% in 2004, 5.7% in 2005, 7.7% in 2006, and 7.5% in 2007. The global economic crisis led to a modest GDP increase of 1.2% in 2009.

Currently (2019), Singapore’s economy ranks fourth in ASEAN, 12th in Asia, and 34th globally, with a GDP of 362.818 billion USD.

Over an extended period, Singapore held an AAA credit rating from the “big three” credit rating agencies, making it one of the few countries to achieve this distinction, and the only one in Asia.

The nation’s strategic location, skilled workforce, low tax rates, advanced infrastructure, and strong stance against corruption make it a highly attractive destination for foreign investment.

Singapore possesses the 11th largest foreign exchange reserves globally and ranks among the highest internationally invested countries per capita. More than 7,000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe have established a presence in Singapore, along with approximately 1,500 companies from China and a similar number from India.

Foreign companies span various sectors of Singapore’s economy, and non-Singaporeans constitute about 44% of the workforce. Singapore has signed over ten free trade agreements with other countries and regions. Although the economy operates within a free market framework, the government plays a significant role, contributing 22% to the GDP.

As the second-largest foreign investor in India, Singapore holds the 14th position in global exports and the 15th in imports.

The official currency of Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD or S$), issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Since 1967, it has been interchangeable with the Brunei dollar due to their historical relationship.

The MAS manages monetary policy by allowing the Singapore dollar’s exchange rate to fluctuate within an undisclosed trading band, contrasting with the approach of most central banks that utilize interest rates for policy management.

In recent years, Singapore has gained recognition as a popular tax haven for affluent individuals, owing to its low tax rates on personal income and tax exemptions on overseas income and capital gains.

Notable examples of wealthy individuals who have settled in Singapore include Australian millionaire retailer Brett Blundy and billionaire Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

While Singapore was removed from the OECD’s “list” of tax havens in 2009, it ranked fourth in the 2015 Financial Secrecy Index of the Tax Justice Network, which identifies offshore financial service providers worldwide.

The country is said to hold one-eighth of the world’s offshore capital, offering ample opportunities for tax avoidance and evasion. In August 2016, The Straits Times reported that Indonesia planned to establish tax havens on two islands near Singapore to repatriate capital back into the Indonesian tax base. Additionally, in October 2016, the Monetary Authority of Singapore imposed fines, withdrew the banking license of Falcon Private Bank, and penalized UBS and DBS for their alleged involvement in the Malaysian Sovereign Funds scandal.

Singapore boasts a millionaire rate of 6.1% within its population. The Economist Intelligence Unit consecutively named Singapore as the world’s most expensive city in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

The government provides extensive assistance programs for the homeless and those in need through the Department of Social and Family Development, leading to minimal cases of acute poverty.

Programs include financial assistance ranging from S$400 to S$1,000 per month for deserving households, free medical care at government hospitals, and coverage of children’s school fees. Additional benefits comprise fitness fee reimbursements to promote exercise, child bonuses of up to S$166,000 per citizen, heavily subsidized healthcare, financing support for individuals with disabilities, provision of cost-reducing laptops for underprivileged students, discounts on public transportation and utility bills, and more. As of 2018, Singapore ranked 9th in the Human Development Index, boasting an HDI value of 0.935.

Singapore boasts several globally renowned brands that have garnered immense respect in their respective industries. Singapore Airlines, Changi Airport, and the Port of Singapore stand out among these esteemed names. Singapore Airlines, ranked as Asia’s most admired company, earned the distinction of being the world’s most admired company in 2015 according to Fortune’s annual industry survey, “50 Most Admired Companies in the World.” The airline consistently secures the top position, including the prestigious “best international airline” title, in the US Travel + Leisure reader surveys for an impressive 20 consecutive years. On the other hand, Changi Airport serves as a vital hub connecting over 100 airlines and facilitating travel to more than 300 cities worldwide. The airport has been honored with over 480 “World’s Best Airport” awards in 2015 alone, making it the most decorated airport globally.

Moreover, Singapore is recognized as a trailblazer in transitioning towards a knowledge-based economy. The country is actively implementing a comprehensive plan that aims to position Singapore as a leading global city, a focal point for emerging networks in the global and Asian economies, and a diversified economy that fosters a favorable business environment by the year 2018.

Tourism Update 09/22/2023 

The tourism sector plays a significant role in Singapore’s economy, attracting a large number of visitors. In 2014, the city welcomed over 15 million tourists, and by 2018, this number reached 18.5 million international visitors, three times the total population of Singapore.

As the 5th most visited city globally and the 2nd in the Asia-Pacific region, tourism has a substantial impact on Singapore’s economy. In 2019, tourism directly contributed to approximately 4% of Singapore’s GDP, a decline from 9.9% in 2016 when considering both direct and indirect contributions. Additionally, the tourism industry accounted for around 8.6% of the country’s employment in 2016.

To enhance the sector, Singapore legalized casinos in 2005; however, only two licenses for “Integrated Resorts” were issued to maintain control over issues such as money laundering and addiction.

Singapore also positions itself as a premier destination for medical tourism, with approximately 200,000 foreigners seeking medical care in the country annually. The goal is to serve at least one million foreign patients each year, generating $3 billion in revenue. In 2015, both Lonely Planet and The New York Times recognized Singapore as the 6th best destination globally to visit.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB), a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, holds the responsibility of promoting the country’s tourism industry.

In August 2017, STB and the Economic Development Board (EDB) introduced a unified brand, “Singapore – Passion Made Possible,” to market the city internationally for business and tourism purposes.

The Orchard Road district, featuring shopping malls and high-rise hotels, stands as the epicenter of shopping and tourism in Singapore. Other popular tourist attractions include the Singapore Zoo, River Safari, and Night Safari.

The Singapore Zoo adopts an open zoo concept, where animals reside in larger spaces separated from visitors by moats, providing a more natural environment. The River Safari showcases 300 animal species, including many endangered species.

Notable landmarks that captivate tourists include the Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands building, Gardens by the Bay, Jewel complex, Orchard Road shopping belt, Sentosa resort island, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Singapore Botanic Gardens holds the distinction of being Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Demographics Update 09/22/2023 

As of 2012, Singapore’s population stood at 5.312 million. Among them, 3.285 million (62%) were Singaporean citizens, while the remaining 38% consisted of permanent residents and foreign workers/students. Approximately 23% of Singaporeans were born outside of the country. In 2012, there were one million permanent residents in Singapore, excluding the 11 million temporary visitors who arrived each year.

The average life expectancy of Singaporeans is 82 years, and the average household size is 3.5 people. Due to limited land availability, four out of five Singaporeans reside in subsidized, high-rise public apartments known as Housing and Development Board (HDB) apartments. The HDB plays a significant role in providing affordable housing for the public. There are nearly 200,000 domestic workers in Singapore.

In 2010, the homeownership rate in Singapore was 87.2%. The penetration rate of mobile phones is exceptionally high, with 1,400 mobile phones per 1,000 individuals. Approximately one in ten residents owns a car.

The total fertility rate was estimated at 0.79 children per woman in 2013, the lowest rate globally and below the replacement level of 2.1. To address this issue, the Singapore government has encouraged immigration in recent decades to maintain the population size. The influx of immigrants has helped prevent population decline. Singapore has traditionally boasted one of the lowest unemployment rates in the developed world, not exceeding 4% in the past decade. During the 2009 global financial crisis, it reached a high of 3% but decreased to 1.9% in 2011.

In 2009, foreigners constituted approximately 40% of Singapore’s residents, one of the highest percentages worldwide. Foreign workers make up 80% of the construction industry workforce and 50% in the service industry.

According to the government census in 2009, 74.2% of residents had Chinese ancestry, 13.4% had Malay ancestry, 9.2% had Indian ancestry, and individuals of European-Asian and other backgrounds accounted for 3.2%. Prior to 2010, individuals were only allowed to register under a single race based on paternal lineage. However, since 2010, dual classifications have been permitted, enabling individuals to choose a primary and minor race, but limited to a maximum of two.


In Singapore, Buddhism is the predominant religion, with 33% of residents identifying themselves as Buddhists in the latest census.

Christianity is the second most widely practiced religion, followed by Islam, Taoism, and Hinduism. Approximately 17% of the population does not affiliate with any religious group.

Between 2000 and 2010, there was an increase in the proportion of Christians, Taoists, and non-believers, with each group growing by 3%, while the percentage of Buddhists decreased. Other faiths have maintained a relatively stable presence in terms of population proportions.

Singapore is home to Buddhist temples and centers representing all three main traditions of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.

The majority of Buddhists in Singapore are of Chinese descent and follow the Mahayana tradition. Chinese Mahayana Buddhism holds the most significant influence in Singapore, with missionary monks from Taiwan and China playing a role in its growth over recent decades.

However, Theravada Buddhism from Thailand has also gained popularity among Singaporeans, including those outside of the Chinese community, in the past decade. The Shining International Academy, a Japanese Buddhist organization, has garnered followers in Singapore, predominantly among individuals of Chinese heritage. Tibetan Buddhism has made gradual progress in the country in recent years.


Singapore recognizes four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. English serves as the lingua franca in the country, being the language of business, government, and instruction in schools. Public institutions conduct their affairs in English, and official documents written in other official languages are often translated into English for submission. The Constitution and all laws of Singapore are written in English, and if one wishes to address the court in a language other than English, a translator is required. However, English is the first language for only one-third of Singaporeans. Approximately one-third of Chinese Singaporeans, one-quarter of Malay Singaporeans, and half of Indian Singaporeans have a language other than English as their mother tongue. Additionally, about 20% of Singaporeans are unable to read or write in English.

Many Singaporeans are bilingual, proficient in both English and one of the other official languages to varying degrees. The literacy rates for the official languages are as follows: English (80%), Mandarin (65%), Malay (17%), and Tamil (4%). Singaporean English is based on British English, and the range of English spoken in Singapore spans from “Standard Singaporean English” to a colloquial variety known as “Singlish,” which has faced some restrictions imposed by the government.

Chinese is the most common mother tongue among Singaporeans, with half of the population claiming it as their first language. Singaporean Mandarin is the predominant Chinese dialect in the country, spoken as a home language by 1.2 million people. Other Chinese dialects, such as Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese, are spoken by nearly half a million people as their mother tongues, but their usage is declining as subsequent generations switch to Mandarin and English.

Malay was chosen as Singapore’s national language after gaining independence to avoid any conflicts with neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia, both of which also use Malay. However, Malay’s use in Singapore is more symbolic than functional. It is used in the national anthem, “Majulah Singapura,” as well as in citations of the Singaporean hierarchy, medal system, and military commands. Malay is primarily spoken within the Malay Singaporean community, with only 16.8% of Singaporeans being literate in Malay and just 12% using it as their first language.

Around 100,000 Singaporeans, or 3% of the population, speak Tamil as their first language. Tamil has official status in Singapore, and there are no restrictions on the use of other Indian languages.


Education Update 09/22/2023 

Singapore has established itself as a prominent educational hub, attracting more than 80,000 international students in 2006. Every day, 5,000 students from Malaysia commute via the Johor-Singapore route to pursue their studies in Singapore. In 2009, international students accounted for 20% of the student population in Singapore’s universities, the maximum allowed, with the majority coming from ASEAN countries, China, and India. The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) consistently rank among the top universities in Asia and have consistently placed within the top 13 best universities in the world in recent years.

Education at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels is predominantly supported by the state. All educational institutions, whether public or private, must be registered with the Ministry of Education.

English serves as the primary language of instruction in all public schools, and all subjects, except for the “mother tongue” essay, are taught and assessed in English. In Singapore’s education system, the term “mother tongue” refers to the second language, as English holds the status of the primary language. Students who have lived abroad for a significant period or face difficulties with their “mother tongue” language may be exempted from the course or follow a simplified curriculum.

The education system in Singapore is divided into three stages: primary, secondary, and pre-university, with primary education being compulsory. Students begin with six years of elementary schooling, including four years of foundation and two years of orientation. The curriculum emphasizes the development of English proficiency, mother tongue languages, mathematics, and science. High school education spans 4-5 years and is divided into specialized streams based on students’ abilities, including Special, Express, Normal (Academic), and Normal (Technical) divisions. The curriculum remains similar to that of elementary school but with greater specialization. Pre-university education takes place over two to three years in colleges, commonly referred to as Junior Colleges. Some schools offer a more flexible curriculum and are known as autonomous schools, operating at both the high school and pre-university levels.

Standardized national examinations are conducted at each stage of education. After completing six years of primary education, students undertake the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), which determines their placement in high school. At the conclusion of high school, students sit for the “O” level GCE examination, and subsequently, after the pre-university phase, they take the “A” level GCE examination. In 2005, among Singaporeans aged 15 and above who were no longer students, only 18% were considered uneducated.


Singapore boasts an efficient healthcare system with relatively low medical costs compared to developed nations. The World Health Organization ranked Singapore’s healthcare system sixth overall in the 2000 World Health Report. For the past two decades, Singapore has maintained the world’s lowest infant mortality rate.

The average life expectancy in Singapore is 83 years, surpassing the global average of 70 years. Access to improved water and sanitation is nearly universal among the population.

Women in Singapore can expect to live an average of 87.6 years, with 75.8 of those years being in good health, although the average is slightly lower for men. In the Global Food Security Index, Singapore secures the top position.

As of December 2011 and January 2013, approximately 8,800 foreigners and 5,400 Singaporeans were diagnosed with HIV, respectively.

However, the annual HIV death rate remains below 10 per 100,000 people. Singapore maintains a high level of vaccination coverage, while the prevalence of obesity among adults is less than 10%. In the 2013 Birth Index conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit, Singapore was ranked as having the best quality of life in Asia and sixth worldwide.

The government healthcare system in Singapore operates on the “3M” framework, comprising three key components. Medifund serves as a safety net for individuals who cannot afford healthcare expenses. Medisave, a mandatory national health savings account system, covers approximately 85% of the population.

Lastly, Medishield is a government-funded health insurance program. Public hospitals in Singapore have a significant degree of autonomy in their management decisions and compete for patients.

However, they remain government-owned, with governing boards appointed by the government. The CEO and management report to and are accountable to these committees. Subsidy schemes are in place to assist individuals with low incomes. In 2008, government funding accounted for 32% of healthcare services, representing approximately 3.5% of Singapore’s GDP.


Singapore is a vibrant and multicultural country, characterized by its diverse languages, religions, and cultures. When Singapore gained independence from Britain in 1963, the majority of its population comprised unskilled workers from Malaysia, China, and India.

Many of these individuals were temporary laborers seeking employment opportunities without intending to settle permanently. Apart from the Peranakans, who were descendants of Chinese immigrants from the 15th and 16th centuries and pledged their loyalty to Singapore, most workers maintained strong ties to their homelands.

The process of forging a unique Singaporean identity began after independence. Former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong described Singapore as a transitional society that defied traditional definitions of a nation.

They highlighted the fact that Singaporeans do not universally share the same language, religion, or customs. While English serves as the primary language in the country, the 2010 census conducted by the government revealed that 20% of Singaporeans are unable to read and write in English, a decrease from 40% in 1990.

Racial and religious harmony is considered essential to Singapore’s success and plays a significant role in shaping the Singaporean identity.

The national flower of Singapore is the Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim,’ named after an Armenian woman who discovered this orchid in her Tanjong Pagar garden in 1893.

The lion image is prominently featured in national symbols such as the Singapore coat of arms and the Singapore lion head emblem, earning the city the moniker of the ‘Lion City.’ Public holidays in Singapore encompass major festivals celebrated by the Chinese, Western, Malay, and Indian communities.

While Singaporean society leans towards conservatism on a national level, there has been some degree of liberalization. Talent is highly valued and individuals are assessed based on their abilities.

Since the 1990s, the government has actively promoted initiatives to transform Singapore into a hub for arts and culture, particularly in the performing arts. Efforts have been made to position the country as a gateway between the East and the West.


In Singapore, food and shopping are considered national pastimes, and the culinary diversity is a compelling reason to visit the island nation. The array of food options reflects the multicultural tapestry of Singapore, serving as a symbol of its rich cultural heritage. The renowned durian is celebrated as the “national fruit” of Singapore.

Local cuisine is often associated with specific ethnic groups, such as Chinese, Malay, and Indian, but the culinary landscape is further enriched by fusion creations like Peranakan cuisine, blending Chinese and Malay influences.

Hawker centers exemplify cultural fusion, where traditional Malay stalls might also offer Tamil dishes, and Chinese stalls incorporate Malay ingredients and cooking techniques.

Hainanese chicken rice, a dish based on Van Xuong chicken from Hainan Island, is considered Singapore’s national dish. Singapore boasts a thriving culinary scene, ranging from open-air hawker centers and air-conditioned food courts to street-side cafes, fast-food outlets, and renowned high-end restaurants.

Food delivery services have also gained popularity, with around 70% of residents ordering through delivery apps at least once a month. Integrated resorts host internationally acclaimed restaurants, attracting globally renowned chefs. Religious dietary restrictions are observed, such as Muslims abstaining from pork and Hindus avoiding beef, while a significant vegetarian community exists. Every July, the Singapore Food Festival celebrates the vibrant local cuisine.

Before the 1980s, street food primarily catered to immigrants seeking familiar flavors from China, India, and Malaysia. Hawker centers, featuring communal seating areas, have long been associated with Singaporean street food. These centers house dozens to hundreds of food stalls, each specializing in specific dishes or culinary styles.

While street food is found in many countries, Singapore’s hawker centers stand out for their unparalleled variety and reach in serving heritage street food. As of 2018, there were 114 hawker centers scattered throughout the city, overseen by the National Environment Agency, which ensures hygiene standards.

The largest hawker center, located on the second floor of the Chinatown Complex, boasts over 200 stalls. It is also home to the world’s most affordable Michelin-starred meal—a plate of chicken rice or noodles with soy sauce priced at S$2 (US$1.50). Singapore’s street food stalls were the first in the world to receive Michelin stars, with two stalls being honored.


Private sports and recreation clubs began to flourish in 19th century Singapore, with notable establishments such as the Cricket Club, Singapore Recreation Club, Singapore Swimming Club, and Hollandse Club.

Football, basketball, cricket, swimming, sailing, table tennis, and badminton are popular sports in Singapore. Many Singaporeans reside in apartment complexes that offer amenities like swimming pools, basketball courts, and indoor sports facilities.

Water sports hold great appeal in the island nation, with activities such as sailing, kayaking, and windsurfing being particularly favored. Scuba diving enthusiasts are drawn to Hantu Island, renowned for its vibrant coral reefs. Singapore’s national football championship, the S-League, was established in 1994 and features nine participating teams, including two foreign teams. In 2008, Singapore became a host of the Formula 1 World Championship with the Singapore Grand Prix. The country successfully organized its inaugural Youth Olympics in 2010.

Swimming stands out as a strong sport in Singapore. At the 2016 Summer Olympics, Joseph Schooling made history by winning Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly, setting a record time of 50.39 seconds.

Singaporean rowers have also achieved international success, with their Optimist team being recognized as one of the world’s strongest. Despite its small size, Singapore has consistently dominated swimming competitions at the SEA Games.

The Singapore water polo team continued Singapore’s remarkable championship streak in a specific discipline by winning the gold medal at the 27th SEA Games in 2017.

The Media

In Singapore, the majority of domestic media is controlled by government-linked companies. MediaCorp is the primary operator of free-to-air TV and radio channels in the country, offering a total of seven channels.

These include Channel 5 (English), Channel News Asia (English), Okto (English), Channel 8 (Chinese), Channel U (Chinese), Suria (Malay), and Vasantham (Indian). StarHub Cable Vision (SCV) provides a cable television service featuring channels from around the world, while SingTel’s Mio TV offers an IPTV service.

Singapore Press Holdings, affiliated with the government, holds significant influence over the press industry in Singapore. However, some human rights groups, like Freedom House, have criticized Singapore’s media industry for being overly regulated and lacking in freedom. In 2010, Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore 136th out of 178 countries in its Press Freedom Index.


Singapore boasts a highly developed public transport system, and its road infrastructure is considered among the best worldwide. In contrast to mainland Europe’s right-hand traffic, Singapore follows the British model, driving on the left side of the road.

The city-state offers various modes of public transportation, with the two most popular being buses (serving over 3 million passengers per day in 2010) and the subway, commonly known as SMRT (Singapore Mass Rapid Transit), carrying over 2 million passengers per day in 2010. Bus passengers can purchase tickets for each journey or utilize the EZlink automatic magnetic card, which offers discounted fares and long-term usability. Singapore’s metro system encompasses 84 stations and spans a length of 129.9 km.

Operating hours are typically from 06:00 to 24:00. Taxis are also available but can be challenging to hail and tend to be costly during peak hours.

Due to Singapore’s limited land area, the government implements special measures to alleviate traffic congestion. The Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system, a rush-hour tax, is employed in the city center to discourage vehicle usage during peak periods. Fees are deducted directly from the EZlink card installed in the vehicle. ERP charges can reach up to SGD 15 if a car passes through five ERP stations in the inner city. Additionally, Singapore offers water transport options, including small motorboats primarily used for tourism purposes. Visitors can enjoy 30-minute city tours along the Singapore River.

Given Singapore’s small size and high population density, the number of private cars on the roads is regulated to minimize pollution and congestion. Car buyers face taxes equivalent to 1.5 times the vehicle’s market value and must secure a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) through bidding to retain the car’s usage rights for a decade. Car prices in Singapore are generally higher compared to other English-speaking countries.

Like most Commonwealth nations, Singapore adheres to the rule of driving on the left side of the road for both vehicles and pedestrians.

Apart from cars, Singapore residents rely on walking, cycling, buses, taxis, and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system for their daily commuting needs. Public bus and train transportation services are operated by two companies: SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation. Taxis are a popular choice due to their relatively affordable fares compared to many other developed countries.

As of 2010, Singapore’s road network extended for 3,356 kilometers (2,085 miles), including 161 kilometers (100 miles) of highways. In 1975, Singapore implemented the pioneering Singapore Regional Permit Scheme, the world’s first toll-through congestion relief system. It involved additional measures such as stringent car ownership quotas and enhanced public transportation.

The system was later upgraded in 1998 and renamed the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) scheme, incorporating electronic toll collection, detection, and video surveillance technologies.

Singapore is renowned for its bustling port, which holds the distinction of being the world’s foremost port of call. Moreover, the city-state serves as a significant aviation hub in Asia and a popular stopover along the Kangaroo route connecting Sydney and London. Singapore is equipped with three civil airports, namely Singapore Changi International Airport, which stands as the largest, Setelar Airport, and the now-discontinued Kalland Airport. Notably, Changi Airport boasts an extensive network of over 100 airlines that link Singapore to approximately 300 cities across 70 countries and territories worldwide.

Recognized by prominent international travel magazines, Changi Airport has consistently been lauded as one of the finest global airports, securing the top spot in Skytrax’s World’s Best Airport rankings for the first time in 2006. Additionally, Singapore Airlines proudly represents the national carrier.

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