Singapore or its official name of the Republic of Singapore is a Southeast Asian island city-state. End to end it is a little more than 42km long and 23km wide, and is one of the smallest countries in the world. It is made up of the main land connected to the southern tip of Malaysia by a causeway and bridge and surrounded by 50 or more smaller islands.
Singapore was founded as a British trading colony by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 and it joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963. He had a plan to remodel Singapore into a modern city with separate areas for the different ethnic groups of the time: Malays, Chinese, Arabs, Bugis and European. There are also separate provisions for roads, schools and lands for government buildings. Sir Stamford Raffles would hardly recognise Singapore today with its sky scraper buildings and the main ethnic groups, Malays, Chinese and Indians all living next door to each other sharing the same housing developments, shops and transportation. Singapore has a great public transport system which is fortunate because to own and drive a car is very costly. When you buy a car you have to pay for a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) and pay again for Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) charges as you drive. The Singapore bus service is second to none, you very rarely have to wait more than a few minutes for a bus and they take you almost anywhere. The Massive Rapid Transport (MRT) subway or metro as it is known in some countries is one of the most modern and efficient in the world. As the name suggests it is very fast and inexpensive to travel too. The immigrants of the past have given the place a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences, which lends itself to the ethnic tapestry that makes Singapore what it is today. The old streets of Chinatown can still be seen; the Muslim characteristics are still visible in Arab Street; and Little India along Serangoon Road still has its distinct ambience. British colonial influence is seen in the Neo-Classical buildings all around the city.
Singapore has political stability. Although a multi-party democracy, The People’s Action Party (PAP) has been the main force of Singapore’s politics since its independence. The President is the Head of State and the Prime Minister (Lee Hsien Loong since 2004) is the Head of Government. The President is elected by popular vote for a six year term. The current President since 2017 is Halimah Yacob
The government keeps a strict system of punishment for anti-social behaviour such as drug trafficking for example. The Singapore judiciary applies the death penalty laws for drug trafficking offences. Activities which we may consider not to be serious are criminalised in Singapore – for example not flushing the toilet after use, dropping litter, spitting and the sale of chewing gum (the importing of chewing gum in to Singapore is banned). Singapore can offer a high quality and cosmopolitan lifestyle as well as a high standard of healthcare. Also Singapore has a low crime rate.
At a Glance Facts
- Population: 6,209,660 (2020)
- Languages – Mandarin official, Malay official, English official
- International Dial code 65
- Time – 8 hours ahead of the UK