Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a South-East Asian island off the southern tip of the Malay peninsula. It is an island country made up of 63 islands.
The earliest known settlement of Singapore was in the second century AD. It was an outpost ‘sea town’ of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, it was a part of the Johor Sultanate. In 1613, Portuguese raiders burnt down the settlement, and the island sank into obscurity for the next two centuries.
In 1819, Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived and signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor on behalf of the British East India Company to develop the southern part of Singapore as a British trading post. In 1824, the entire island became a British possession, and in 182 the British Straits Settlements.
It was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. (1939-1945) However, Singapore declared independence from the United Kingdom, uniting with other former British island territories to form Malaysia on 31 August in 1963, and being separated from Malaysia, it gained independence as the Republic of Singapore on 9 August in 1965. In 1967, it helped to found the ASEAN — Association of Southeast Asian Nations — and in 1970 it joined the NAM — Non-Aligned Movement. Since then it has had a massive increase in wealth and is one of the four Asian Tigers.
Government and politics
Singapore is a Republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government. Executive power rests with the Cabinet led by the Prime Minister and the President. The President is elected through popular vote, and he holds some veto powers for a few key decisions such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of judges, but otherwise occupies an ornamental post. Singapore is consistently rated as one of the least corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International.
Today, Singapore has a highly developed market-based economy, as the 14th largest exporter and the 15th largest importer in the world. The country has the highest trade to GDP ratio in the world, signifying the importance of trade in its economy. It is rated top of terms in net international investment position per capita.
Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of six households having at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth. Despite its relative economic success, Singapore does not have a high ratio of wage, believing that it would lower its competitiveness. It also has one of the highest income inequality levels among developed countries, coming in just behind Hong Kong and in front of the United States. However, acute poverty is rare in Singapore, and the government has rejected the idea of a generous welfare system, stating that each generation must earn and save enough for its entire life cycle.
Singapore’s foreign policy is directed to maintaining a secure environment in Southeast Asia as well as the surrounding territories. An underlying principle is a political and economic stability in the region. It has diplomatic relations with a good many sovereign States. It is a strong supporter of the ASEAN Free Trade and Investment Area because Singapore’s economic growth is closely linked with the economic progress of the region as a whole.
As of 2012, the population of Singapore in 5.312 million people, of whom 3.285 million (62%) are citizens while the rest (38%) are permanent residents or foreign workers/students.
Religion and language
As for religion, Buddhism is the most widely practised religion in Sin- 8apore. The next-most practised religion is Christianity, followed by Islam, Taoism and Hinduism. About 17% of the population do not have any religious affiliation. Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. English is the common language of the nation and is the language of business, government, and the medium of instruction in schools and colleges. Chinese is the language that is spoken as the native tongue by the greatest number of Singaporeans.
Education and Health
Education for primary, secondary and tertiary levels is mostly supported by the State. Singapore has a generally efficient health care system. It has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world for the past two decades. There is a high level of immunisation, and almost the whole population has access to improved water and sanitation facilities. The country has strict laws against drugs and has one of the lowest rates of drug use in the world.
Popular sports in Singapore include football, basketball, cricket, table tennis, and badminton. Singapore has a diverse culture. Racial and religious harmony is regarded by the government as a crucial part of Singapore’s success and played a part in building a Singaporean identity.
Culture and transport
Since 1990s, the government has been promoting Singapore as a centre for arts and culture, and to transform the country into a cosmopolitan “gateway between the East and the West.” Singapore is a major international transport hub in Asia, positioned on many sea and air trade routes.