Photos of Singapore

Introduction

Background

A Malay trading port known as Temasek existed on the island of Singapore by the 14th century. The settlement changed hands several times in the ensuing centuries and was eventually burned in the 17th century and fell into obscurity. The British founded modern Singapore as a trading colony on the site in 1819. It joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 but was ousted two years later and became independent. Singapore subsequently became one of the world's most prosperous countries with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world's busiest in terms of tonnage handled) and with per capita GDP equal to that of the leading nations of Western Europe.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southeastern Asia, islands between Malaysia and Indonesia

Geographic coordinates

1 22 N, 103 48 E

Map references

Southeast Asia

Area

total: 719 sq km

land: 709.2 sq km

water: 10 sq km

country comparison to the world: 190

Area - comparative

slightly more than 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

193 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 3 nm

exclusive fishing zone: within and beyond territorial sea, as defined in treaties and practice

Climate

tropical; hot, humid, rainy; two distinct monsoon seasons - northeastern monsoon (December to March) and southwestern monsoon (June to September); inter-monsoon - frequent afternoon and early evening thunderstorms

Terrain

lowlying, gently undulating central plateau

Elevation

lowest point: Singapore Strait 0 m

highest point: Bukit Timah 166 m

Natural resources

fish, deepwater ports

Land use

agricultural land: 1% (2011 est.)

arable land: 0.9% (2011 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2011 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2011 est.)

forest: 3.3% (2011 est.)

other: 95.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

most of the urbanization is along the southern coast, with relatively dense population clusters found in the central areas

Natural hazards

flash floods

Environment - current issues

water pollution; industrial pollution; limited natural freshwater resources; limited land availability presents waste disposal problems; air pollution; deforestation; seasonal smoke/haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

focal point for Southeast Asian sea routes; consists of about 60 islands, by far the largest of which is Pulau Ujong; land reclamation has removed many former islands and created a number of new ones

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Singaporean(s)

adjective: Singapore

Ethnic groups

Chinese 74.3%, Malay 13.4%, Indian 9%, other 3.2% (2018 est.)

note: individuals self-identify; the population is divided into four categories: Chinese, Malay (includes indigenous Malays and Indonesians), Indian (includes Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or Sri Lankan), and other ethnic groups (includes Eurasians, Caucasians, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese)

Languages

English (official) 36.9%, Mandarin (official) 34.9%, other Chinese dialects (includes Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka) 12.2%, Malay (official) 10.7%, Tamil (official) 3.3%, other 2% (2015 est.)

note: data represent language most frequently spoken at home

Religions

Buddhist 33.2%, Christian 18.8%, Muslim 14%, Taoist 10%, Hindu 5%, other 0.6%, none 18.5% (2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 12.8% (male 406,983/female 387,665)

15-24 years: 15.01% (male 457,190/female 474,676)

25-54 years: 50.73% (male 1,531,088/female 1,618,844)

55-64 years: 10.58% (male 328,024/female 328,808)

65 years and over: 10.89% (male 310,123/female 366,259) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 34.5

youth dependency ratio: 16.5

elderly dependency ratio: 18

potential support ratio: 5.6 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 35.6 years

male: 35.4 years

female: 35.7 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Birth rate

9.13 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 206

Death rate

3.93 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 108

Net migration rate

4.26 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 149

Population distribution

most of the urbanization is along the southern coast, with relatively dense population clusters found in the central areas

Urbanization

urban population: 100% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 1.39% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

5.935 million SINGAPORE (capital) (2020)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

30.5 years (2015 est.)

median age

Maternal mortality rate

8 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 153

Infant mortality rate

total: 1.56 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 1.72 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 1.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 30

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 86.19 years

male: 83.48 years

female: 89.05 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 210

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

2.29 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

2.5 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population (2015 est.)

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<100 (2019 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.3%

male: 98.9%

female: 95.9% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 17 years

male: 16 years

female: 17 years (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 9.1%

male: 6.2%

female: 12.5% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 134

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Singapore

conventional short form: Singapore

local long form: Republic of Singapore

local short form: Singapore

etymology: name derives from the Sanskrit words "simha" (lion) and "pura" (city) to describe the city-state's leonine symbol

Government type

parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Singapore

geographic coordinates: 1 17 N, 103 51 E

time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: name derives from the Sanskrit words "simha" (lion) and "pura" (city), thus creating the city's epithet "lion city"

Administrative divisions

no first order administrative divisions; there are five community development councils: Central Singapore Development Council, North East Development Council, North West Development Council, South East Development Council, South West Development Council (2019)

Independence

9 August 1965 (from Malaysian Federation)

National holiday

National Day, 9 August (1965)

Constitution

history: several previous; latest adopted 22 December 1965

amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage requires two-thirds majority vote in the second and third readings by the elected Parliament membership and assent of the president of the republic; passage of amendments affecting sovereignty or control of the Police Force or the Armed Forces requires at least two-thirds majority vote in a referendum; amended many times, last in 2016

Legal system

English common law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICC (2019)

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Singapore

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Suffrage

21 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: President HALIMAH Yacob (since 14 September 2017); note - President TAN's term ended on 31 August 2017; HALIMAH is Singapore's first female president; the head of the Council of Presidential Advisors, J.Y. PILLAY, served as acting president until HALIMAH was sworn in as president on 14 September 2017

head of government: Prime Minister LEE Hsien Loong (since 12 August 2004, reelected 10 July 2020); Deputy Prime Ministers HENG Swee Keat (since 1 May 2019) (2019)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister; Cabinet responsible to Parliament 

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a fixed term of 6-years (there are no term limits); election last held on 13 September 2017 (next to be held in 2023); following legislative elections, leader of majority party or majority coalition appointed prime minister by president; deputy prime ministers appointed by the president

election results: HALIMAH Yacob was declared president on 13 September 2017, being the only eligible candidate; Tony TAN Keng Yam elected president in the previous contested election on 27 August 2011; percent of vote - Tony TAN Keng Yam (independent) 35.2% , TAN Cheng Bock (independent) 34.9%, TAN Jee Say (independent) 25%, TAN Kin Lian (independent) 4.9%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament (104 seats; 93 members directly elected by popular vote, up to 9 nominated by a parliamentary selection committee and appointed by the president, and up to 12 non-constituency members from opposition parties to ensure political diversity; members serve 5-year terms); note - the number of nominated members will increase to 12 for the 2020 election for the first time (2020)

elections: last held on 10 July 2020 (next must be held by 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party - PAP 61.2%, WP 11.2%, PSP 10.2%; seats by party - PAP 83, WP 10, PSP 2; composition - men 79, women 25, percent of women 24%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (although the number of judges varies - as of April 2019, the court totaled 20 judges, 7 judicial commissioners, 4 judges of appeal, and 16 international judges); the court is organized into an upper tier Appeal Court and a lower tier High Court

judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the president from candidates recommended by the prime minister after consultation with the chief justice; judges usually serve until retirement at age 65, but terms can be extended

subordinate courts: district, magistrates', juvenile, family, community, and coroners' courts; small claims tribunals; employment claims tribunals

Political parties and leaders

National Solidarity Party or NSP [Reno FONG]
People's Action Party or PAP [LEE Hsien Loong]
People's Power Party or (PPP) [Goh Meng SENG]
People's Voice or PV [Lim TEAN]
Progress Singapore Party or PSP [Tan Cheng Bock]
Red Dot United or RDU [Ravi PHILEMON]
Reform Party or RP [Kenneth JEYARETNAM]
Singapore Democratic Alliance or SDA [Abu MOHAMED]
Singapore Democratic Party or SDP [Dr. CHEE Soon Juan]
Singapore People's Party or SPP [Steve Chia]
Workers' Party or WP [Pritam SINGH] (2020)

International organization participation

ADB, AOSIS, APEC, Arctic Council (observer), ARF, ASEAN, BIS, C, CP, EAS, FAO, FATF, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Ashok KUMAR Mirpuri (since 30 July 2012)

chancery: 3501 International Place NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 537-3100

FAX: [1] (202) 537-0876

consulate(s) general: San Francisco

consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Rafik MANSOUR (since July 2019)

telephone: [65] 6476-9100

embassy: 27 Napier Road, Singapore 258508

mailing address: FPO AP 96507-0001

FAX: [65] 6476-9340

Flag description

two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white; near the hoist side of the red band, there is a vertical, white crescent (closed portion is toward the hoist side) partially enclosing five white five-pointed stars arranged in a circle; red denotes brotherhood and equality; white signifies purity and virtue; the waxing crescent moon symbolizes a young nation on the ascendancy; the five stars represent the nation's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice, and equality

National symbol(s)

lion, merlion (mythical half lion-half fish creature), orchid; national colors: red, white

National anthem

name: "Majulah Singapura" (Onward Singapore)

lyrics/music: ZUBIR Said

note: adopted 1965; first performed in 1958 at the Victoria Theatre, the anthem is sung only in Malay

Economy

Economic overview

Singapore has a highly developed and successful free-market economy. It enjoys an open and corruption-free environment, stable prices, and a per capita GDP higher than that of most developed countries. Unemployment is very low. The economy depends heavily on exports, particularly of electronics, petroleum products, chemicals, medical and optical devices, pharmaceuticals, and on Singapore’s vibrant transportation, business, and financial services sectors.

The economy contracted 0.6% in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis, but has continued to grow since 2010. Growth from 2012-2017 was slower than during the previous decade, a result of slowing structural growth - as Singapore reached high-income levels - and soft global demand for exports. Growth recovered to 3.6% in 2017 with a strengthening global economy.

The government is attempting to restructure Singapore’s economy to reduce its dependence on foreign labor, raise productivity growth, and increase wages amid slowing labor force growth and an aging population. Singapore has attracted major investments in advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and medical technology production and will continue efforts to strengthen its position as Southeast Asia's leading financial and technology hub. Singapore is a signatory of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and a party to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations with nine other ASEAN members plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. In 2015, Singapore formed, with the other ASEAN members, the ASEAN Economic Community.

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.5% (2019 est.)

0.4% (2018 est.)

0.5% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 43

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: AAA (2003)

Moody's rating: Aaa (2002)

Standard & Poors rating: AAA (1995)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$372.088 billion (2019 est.)

Gross national saving

46.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

46% of GDP (2016 est.)

45.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 5

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0% (2017 est.)

industry: 24.8% (2017 est.)

services: 75.2% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 35.6% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 10.9% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 24.8% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 2.8% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 173.3% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -149.1% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

poultry, eggs, vegetables, pork, duck meat, spinach, pig offals, bird eggs, pig fat, cabbages

Industries

electronics, chemicals, financial services, oil drilling equipment, petroleum refining, biomedical products, scientific instruments, telecommunication equipment, processed food and beverages, ship repair, offshore platform construction, entrepot trade

Labor force

3.778 million (2019 est.)

note: excludes non-residents

country comparison to the world: 92

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 0.7%

industry: 25.6%

services: 73.7% (2017)

note: excludes non-residents

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.6%

highest 10%: 27.5% (2017)

Budget

revenues: 50.85 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 51.87 billion (2017 est.)

note: expenditures include both operational and development expenditures

Public debt

111.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

106.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: Singapore's public debt consists largely of Singapore Government Securities (SGS) issued to assist the Central Provident Fund (CPF), which administers Singapore's defined contribution pension fund; special issues of SGS are held by the CPF, and are non-tradable; the government has not borrowed to finance deficit expenditures since the 1980s; Singapore has no external public debt

country comparison to the world: 11

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

$63.109 billion (2019 est.)

$64.042 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Exports

$626.68 billion (2019 est.)

$636.565 billion (2018 est.)

$588.576 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 10

Exports - partners

China 14.7%, Hong Kong 12.6%, Malaysia 10.8%, US 6.6%, Indonesia 5.8%, Japan 4.7%, South Korea 4.6%, Thailand 4% (2017)

Exports - commodities

machinery and equipment (including electronics and telecommunications), pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, refined petroleum products, foodstuffs and beverages

Imports

$533.478 billion (2019 est.)

$542.802 billion (2018 est.)

$505.736 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

Imports - partners

China 13.9%, Malaysia 12%, US 10.7%, Japan 6.3%, South Korea 5% (2017)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs, consumer goods

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$279.9 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$271.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

Debt - external

$566.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$464.1 billion (30 September 2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 20

Exchange rates

Singapore dollars (SGD) per US dollar -

1.33685 (2020 est.)

1.35945 (2019 est.)

1.3699 (2018 est.)

1.3748 (2014 est.)

1.2671 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,003,594

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 32.83 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 9,543,773

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 156.38 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 89

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: excellent service; world leader in telecommunications and perhaps the first 'Smart Nation' where a sensor network is implemented, for water and air, smart logistics and smart sensor in the home of elderly or chronically ill; roll out of 4G and 5G networks to ensure faster speeds; wireless and fiber broadband growing segments of telecommunications; roll out of 'Next Generation Network' (NGNBN) almost complete with FttH and wireless network fiber based services; mobile sector saturated, but with mobile operators competing to offer more to the consumer such as value-added services; 4 MNVO; demand for data storage in Singapore (2020)

domestic: excellent domestic facilities; fixed-line 33 per 100 and mobile-cellular 156 per 100 teledensity; multiple providers of high-speed Internet connectivity (2019)

international: country code - 65; landing points for INDIGO-West, SeaMeWe -3,-4,-5, SIGMAR, SJC, i2icn, PGASCOM, BSCS, IGG, B3JS, SAEx2, APCN-2, APG, ASC, SEAX-1, ASE, EAC-C2C, Matrix Cable System and SJC2 submarine cables providing links throughout Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 3, Bukit Timah, Seletar, and Sentosa; supplemented by VSAT coverage (2019 )

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

state controls broadcast media; 6 domestic TV stations operated by MediaCorp which is wholly owned by a state investment company; broadcasts from Malaysian and Indonesian stations available; satellite dishes banned; multi-channel cable TV services available; a total of 19 domestic radio stations broadcasting, with MediaCorp operating 11, Singapore Press Holdings, also government-linked, another 5, 2 controlled by the Singapore Armed Forces Reservists Association and one owned by BBC Radio; Malaysian and Indonesian radio stations are available as is BBC; a number of Internet service radio stations are also available (2019)

Internet users

total: 5,286,665

percent of population: 88.17% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1,610,500

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 27 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 60

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 4 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 230

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 40,401,515 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 5,194,900,000 mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 9 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)

under 914 m: 1 (2017)

Pipelines

3220 km domestic gas (2014), 1122 km cross-border pipelines (2017), 8 km refined products (2013)

Roadways

total: 3,500 km (2017)

paved: 3,500 km (includes 164 km of expressways) (2017)

country comparison to the world: 158

Merchant marine

total: 3,420

by type: bulk carrier 570, container ship 497, general cargo 123, oil tanker 748, other 1,482 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 8

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Singapore

container port(s) (TEUs): Singapore (33,666,000) (2017)

LNG terminal(s) (import): Singapore

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Singapore Armed Forces: Singapore Army, Republic of Singapore Navy, Republic of Singapore Air Force (includes air defense);  Police Coast Guard (subordinate to the Singapore Police Force) (2019)

Military expenditures

3.2% of GDP (2019)

3.1% of GDP (2018)

3.1% of GDP (2017)

3.2% of GDP (2016)

3.1% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 24

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) have approximately 62,000 active duty troops (45,000 Army; 7,000 Navy; 10,000 Air Force) (2019)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the SAF has a diverse and largely modern mix of domestically-produced and imported weapons; Singapore has the most developed arms industry in Southeast Asia and is also the largest importer of weapons; the chief suppliers since 2010 are France, Germany, Spain, and the US (2019 est.)

Military deployments

maintains permanent training bases and detachments of military personnel in Australia, France, and the US (June 2020)

Military service age and obligation

18-21 years of age for male compulsory military service; 16 1/2 years of age for voluntary enlistment (with parental consent); 2-year conscript service obligation, with a reserve obligation to age 40 (enlisted) or age 50 (officers) (2019)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift; the Singapore Straits saw three attacks against commercial vessels in 2018, a slight decrease from the four attacks in 2017 (2018)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

disputes with Malaysia over territorial waters, airspace, the price of fresh water delivered to Singapore from Malaysia, Singapore's extensive land reclamation works, bridge construction, and maritime boundaries in the Johor and Singapore Straits; in 2008, ICJ awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh/Horsburgh Island) to Singapore, and Middle Rocks to Malaysia, but did not rule on maritime regimes, boundaries, or disposition of South Ledge; Indonesia and Singapore continue to work on finalization of their 1973 maritime boundary agreement by defining unresolved areas north of Indonesia's Batam Island; piracy remains a problem in the Malacca Strait

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 1,303 (2019)

Illicit drugs

drug abuse limited because of aggressive law enforcement efforts, including carrying out death sentences; as a transportation and financial services hub, Singapore is vulnerable, despite strict laws and enforcement, as a venue for money laundering