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Singapore*Singapore flag
Basic facts
The country 
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Capital: Singapore
Area: 648 sq km; 250 sq miles
Population: 4,300,419 (July 2001 estimate)
Urbanisation: Urban 100 per cent; Rural 0 per cent


Exports: Computer equipment, rubber and rubber products, petroleum products, telecommunications equipment

Industry: Electronics, chemicals, financial services, oil drilling equipment, petroleum refining, rubber processing and rubber products, processed food and beverages, ship repair, entrepot trade, biotechnology.

Agriculture: Major crops; rubber, copra, fruits, vegetables, poultry, eggs

Currency: 1 Singapore dollar (S$), consisting of 100 cents

Natural resources: Fish, harbours


The people

Ethnic: Chinese 76.7 per cent, Malay 14 per cent, Indian 7.9 per cent, European, Japanese and other 1.4 per cent

Language: Chinese (official), Malay (official and national), Tamil (official), English (official). Singapore's multiplicity of languages reflects its racial diversity. Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English are all official languages. Malay is the national language, whilst English is the language of administration. All Singaporeans are expected to learn English, which is widely used in science, technology, commerce and tourism. The Chinese speak a number of different dialects (Hokkien, Chaozhou and Cantonese, amongst others), but Mandarin (also called Putonghua) is gradually replacing all other forms of Chinese. Most Singaporeans are bilingual or multilingual. The Government encourages the use of all the languages, not just English, to maintain traditional values.

Religion: Buddhist (Chinese), Muslim (Malays), Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Taoist (Daoist) and Confucianist Singaporeans enjoy freedom of worship, although some religious groups have not been allowed to organize because they are considered anti-Government. Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism, as well as a number of smaller religions, are all practised in Singapore. About half the people, most of who are Chinese, are either Buddhist or Taoist. Many actually practise a combination of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Nearly all the Malays are Muslim. Ten per cent of the people are Christian, most of them from the Chinese or European communities. About 5 per cent are Hindu. A significant minority, many of them Chinese, are either atheist or agnostic. All the religions coexist in harmony, with Buddhist and Hindu temples next to Muslim mosques and Christian churches. There are two synagogues.


The history

Independence: 9 August 1965 (from Malaysia)

Government: Singapore has a very stable Government. The President is the head of state, but the Prime Minister exercises executive authority. There are 81 seats in the unicameral parliament, which since 1959 has been dominated by the People's Action Party (PAP). For much of that period, there was only one opposition member in parliament, but in the 1991 elections, the PAP's share of the vote fell to 61 per cent and four members of the opposition won seats in the parliament. The voting age is 21.

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