Singapore, or Republic of Singapore, an island country of southeast Asia. Most of the country's people live in the capital and largest city, which is also called Singapore.
Singapore Island and a number of smaller adjacent islands make up the country. They lie just north of the Equator at the tip of the Malay Peninsula. With an area of only 224 square miles (580 km2)—about the size of Chicago—Singapore is one of the smallest independent countries in Asia.
Singapore Island is separated from the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula by the narrow Johor Strait. To the south beyond Singapore Strait, the major link between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca, are islands of Indonesia. Singapore Island is generally low-lying and flat; its few hills reach less than 600 feet (180 m) above sea level. Because of the equatorial location, Singapore's climate is tropical. High temperatures and humidity prevail, and there is almost daily rainfall.
On the southern coast of the island is the densely settled city of Singapore, its inhabitants crowded into an area of less than 40 square miles (100 km). The city is a busy seaport and commercial center with docks, warehouses, and other harbor facilities lining much of the waterfront. Winding through the city is the narrow Singapore River, its banks often cluttered with barges that serve |ships anchored offshore.
The downtown area is near the mouth of the river. Many of the buildings here are modern high-rises. Wide avenues enclose shopping areas, parks, and attractive squares. Hotels and clubs along Beach Road face the harbor, and tall apartment buildings are visible in many areas. Of interest are the Botanical Gardens, noted for tropical plants; the National Museum, with exhibits on Malayan and Indonesian culture; and several large amusement districts with theaters and other types of entertainment facilities.
Singapore has a thriving economy that is stronger than that of many larger, more populous countries of Asia. The people have one of the highest standards of living in Asia, and there is relatively little poverty.
At the core of the economy is the city of Singapore's entrepot port (a port that specializes in the storing, processing, and reshipping of goods moving between other countries). A strategic location on one of the world's chief shipping routes has long made the port one of the world's busiest. Largely because of international shipping, Singapore has become a key financial center for southeastern Asia. Insurance and finance companies, as well as dozens of banks, including foreign banks, operate in Singapore. In addition, thousands of business travelers and tourists visit the country each year, making tourism a major source of income.
Until the early 1960's, when Singapore's government launched an economic development program, manufacturing was largely limited to food processing and the simple processing of raw materials. Under the program, industries of many kinds began to establish plants in Singapore. They range from such basic activities as oil refining and the making of iron and steel to the production of complex electronic equipment. Other industries include shipbuilding and ship repair, and the making of Pharmaceuticals.
Agriculture is limited by the country's small size. Vegetables, tropical fruits, and various other food crops are intensively cultivated. Orchids, grown primarily for export, are the chief specialty crop. Pig and poultry farming provide much of the local meat supply, but most other foods must be imported.
Transportation within Singapore is chiefly by bus and auto over a network of paved roads. Singapore also has a mass-transit rail line, which links the city of Singapore with outlying areas. An important link with Malaysia is the causeway over Johor Strait, which carries a road and rail line. Singapore's international airport is at Changi. The national air carrier is Singapore Airlines.
About three-fourths of the population is Chinese The largest minorities are Malay and Indian. In 1990 the population of Singapore was 2,705,115, the vast majority of whom lived in the city of Singapore.
Under the constitution of 1958 as amended, Singapore is a republic, with a parliament elected by universal adult suffrage. The prime minister is the leader of the political party controlling parliament. The head of state is a president, elected by the people to a six-year term. The Supreme Court is the highest judicial body.