is made up of a low-lying Island and 58 smaller islands within
its territorial water. 50% of the land are urban areas while
parkland, reservoirs, plantations and open military areas
occupy 40%. The whole island measures approximately 42km from
east to west and 23km from north to south at its widest points.
While there are built-up, high-density areas all around the
island, the main city area is in the south, built along the
shores of the Singapore River, a "recreational" river, offering
waterfront housing, riverside dining, and water-sports facilities
to the present and future generations of Singaporeans.
to the west of the island is an industrial area with a number of
tourist attractions. There are colonial home areas in the East Coast,
a major beach park and the international airport. To the northeast,
huge modern housing developments are developed, while at the central
northern part has most of Singapore's undeveloped land and what
is left of its forest. Singapore is connected to another mainland,
Malaysia, by a 1-kilometer-long causeway. According to current plans,
land reclamation and housing developments will mould and change
Singapore's geography dramatically.
rarely drops below 20 degrees Celsius, even at night, and usually
climbs up to 30 degrees Celsius during the day making it hot and
humid all year-round. Eventually, humidity is high around the 75%
mark. Singapore is wettest from the month of November to January
and is driest from May to July. Due to Singapore's near proximity
to the equator, it gets plenty of sun throughout the year.
Diversity is the
key to Singapore's population. The chinese population consists of
78 percent, malays 14 percent, and indians 7 percent. The remainder
consists of other nationalities. The chinese population migrated
in waves from southeast China. The Hokkien from southern Fukian
province accounts for nearly 45 percent of Singapore's Chinese community.
The Teochew, from Guangdong province, also has a significant presence
here, constituting 22 percent. The Cantonese and Hakka populations
are the remainder. Among these groups are an increasing number of
Baba, or Straits Chinese. The Baba speaks English or Malay as a
first language but maintains a Chinese culture. Traditionally, they
were the offspring of Chinese immigrants and Singaporean women,
today the term Baba is applied to anyone with a Singaporean lineage
of several generations.
are mostly descendants from the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java,
or other islands of the Malay Archipelago. Indians first arrived
from Penang and Malacca, with others following later from the east
via India and Sri Lanka. About two-thirds of the Indian population
consists of Tamils from southeastern India. Others include Malayalis,
Punjabis, and Gujaratis.
Singapore might have
remained a quiet backwater if not for Sir Stamford Raffles' intervention
in 1819. The British had first established a presence in the Straits
of Malacca (now called Melaka) in the 18th century when the East
India Company set out to secure and protect its line of trade from
China to the colonies in India. Fearing another resurgence of Dutch
expansionism - which had been the dominant European trading power
in the region for nearly 200 years - Raffles argued for an increased
British presence, which he was promptly given.
by a tariff-free port, poured in by the thousands and a flourishing
colony with a military and naval base was established. Singapore's
inexorable growth continued into the 20th century. By the 1950s,
burgeoning nationalism had led to the formation of a number of political
parties as Singapore moved slowly towards self-government. The People's
Action Party, with the Cambridge-educated Lee Kuan Yew as leader,
was elected in 1959. Lee became prime minister, a position he was
to hold for the next 31 years. In 1963, Singapore formed a union
with Malaya (now Malaysia) but by 1965, the nascent federation was
in tatters. Singapore became independent soon after and was once
again the economic success story of the region.
are often fairly formal. Each of the diverse racial groups in Singapore
has retained its own cultural and religious identity while developing
as an integral part of the Singapore community.
The four official
languages of Singapore includes Mandarin, English, Malay and Tamil.
Although Singapore is a country of immigrants, its people possess
a distinct and proud identity. The government has worked assiduously
since independence to foster a national identity. One step was to
establish four national languages -Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, and English,
the preferred medium for business and politics.
The parliament is
unicameral, executive power nominally rests with the president,
but effectively lies with the prime minister and the Cabinet. The
presidency is a largely ceremonial post who is elected by parliament
to serve a 4-year term.
religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.
Buddhists represent about 54 percent of the population. Islam, the
national faith of Malaysia and Indonesia, also has a significant
presence, as do Hinduism and Christianity. Without an official religion,
the government's stated philosophy is based on the social and moral
codes of Confucianism.
River was the lifeline of Singapore where the first immigrants
eked out a merger living and saw Singapore transform from
an obscure little fishing village to a great seaport. And
into a modern metropolis famous for its skyscrapers, the Merlion
and "gastro-mania". Highlights on the banks of the Singapore
River include Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, landmarks and memorials
such as Merlion Park and Parliament House, museums such as
the Asian Civilizations Museum as well as temples and mosques
such as the Tan Si Chong Su Temple and Omar Kampong Melaka
form Fullerton Square, the Merlion (half lion, half fish)
is the ubiquitous tourism symbol of Singapore. This wondrous
stucture stands on a 23 metre high hillock overlooking Sentosa.
At 12 storeys high, this is the tallest free form structure
in Singapore offering a 360o view of Sentosa as well as
a panoramic view of Singapore's southern shores.
Statue of Sir Stamford Raffles
of Singapore's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, stands in front
of Victoria Theatre while its replica stands at North Boat
Quay on the spot where Raffles is believed to have
first stepped ashore in 1819. This area is known colloquially
as Raffles' Landing Site.
Sir Stamford Raffles
adminstrator, born at sea, off Port Morant, Jamaica. He had
limited formal schooling, became a clerk in the East India
Company, and after studying by himself gained a position as
assistant secretary in Penang. He quickly rose to become Lieutenant-Governor
of Java (1811-16), where he completely reformed the administration.
In 1816 ill health brought him home to England, where he was
knighted. As Lieutenant-Governor of Bengkulu (1818-23), he
established a settlement at Singapore, and was thus largely
responsible for the development of the British empire in the