Country profile: Singapore
Singapore is south-east
Asia's hi-tech, wealthy city-state which is also known for the
conservatism of its leaders and its strict social controls.
The country comprises the main island - linked by a causeway and a
bridge to the southern tip of Malaysia - and around 50 smaller islands.
Once a colonial outpost of Britain,
Singapore has become one of the world's most prosperous places - with
glittering skyscrapers and a thriving port.
Most of its people live in public-housing tower blocks. They enjoy
one of the world's highest standards of living, but also a system of
punishments for acts deemed to be anti-social.
Britain's Sir Stamford Raffles saw Singapore's commercial potential
Government-led initiatives have encouraged Singaporeans to have more
babies and to be more courteous. Citizens are urged to "Speak Good
English" in place of a local slang known as "Singlish".
make up more than 75% of the community; Malays and Indians make up much
of the remainder. There are many foreign workers.
Singapore is a multi-party nation, the People's Action Party (PAP) has
been the dominant force since independence. Rights groups have accused
some politicians of using defamation suits to silence their opponents.
is often referred to as one of Asia's economic "tigers". Its economy is
driven by electronics manufacturing and financial services and has
weathered regional crises, including the 1997 Asian markets slump and
the 2003 Sars virus outbreak.
In the face of strong competition
from regional manufacturers, Singapore is seeking to strengthen its
services sector and tourism industry.
The country was referred to - less kindly - by the writer William Gibson as "Disneyland with the death penalty".
argues that its use of capital punishment - applied mostly for drugs
trafficking offences - has stopped the growth of narcotics syndicates.
- Full name: Republic of Singapore
- Population: 4.7 million (UN, 2009)
- Capital: Singapore
- Area: 660 sq km (255 sq miles)
- Major languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil
- Religions: Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism
- Life expectancy: 78 years (men), 83 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Singapore dollar = 100 cents
- Main exports: Computer equipment, machinery, rubber products, petroleum products
- GNI per capita: US $34,760 (World Bank, 2008)
- Internet domain: .sg
- International dialling code: +65
President: S R Nathan
S R Nathan began a second,
successive six-year term in September 2005 after the other contenders
for the post were disqualified. Candidates must meet strict selection
Though fulfilling a mainly ceremonial role, the
president has the power of veto in key areas, including government
spending, and can appoint senior civil servants.
Prime minister: Lee Hsien Loong
elder son of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong
took office in August 2004, without an election, as part of a planned
handover of power.
Lee Hsien Loong's succession was long-anticipated
He vowed to continue the policy of opening up Singapore's society.
A former army officer, Mr Lee followed his father into politics at the age of 32, becoming deputy prime minister in 1990.
finance minister in his predecessor's cabinet, he was credited with
helping to secure Singapore's competitive edge amidst growing
competition from China.
Mr Lee's father, who oversaw the
transformation of Singapore into an economic power, is the cabinet's
official mentor - a newly-created post.
Goh Chok Tong, Lee
Hsien Loong's predecessor, is the senior minister in the cabinet, and
thus the most senior advisor to the prime minister.
Singapore's media environment is highly regulated. Censorship is
common, internet access is regulated and private ownership of satellite
dishes is not allowed.
Government officials have a record of
winning defamation suits against foreign publications. Media watchdog
Reporters Without Borders says the press is "in the grip of a rigorous
self-censorship" over its coverage of domestic politics.
players dominate the media scene. Singapore Press Holdings, which has
close links to the ruling party, has a virtual monopoly of the
newspaper industry. MediaCorp, owned by a state investment agency,
operates TV and radio stations.
The two companies merged their free newspaper and TV operations at the start of 2005.
debate has found an outlet on the internet; however, those who post
political material are expected to register with the authorities.
is a regional pioneer of high-definition and mobile TV services. The
government's multi-million dollar "Media 21" blueprint aims to turn the
country into a regional hub for the digital media industry and to
create thousands of new jobs in the sector.
The BBC World Service is available via an FM relay.
- MediaCorp - operates entertainment-based Channel 5 and Channel 8, Malay channel Suria, Mandarin-language Channel U, and Channel NewsAsia
- operates more than a dozen stations including news and talk station
938Live, music stations and Chinese, Malay and Indian services
- SPH Unionworks - operates English-language Radio 91.3 and Mandarin station Radio 100.3