COUNTRY IN FOCUS : SINGAPORE

Singapore or Republic of Singapore or Temasek is an island country and city-state at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula in Asia. The neighbors of Singapore include Malaysia and Indonesia. Singapore has a population of about 5.4 million people of which 3.31 million people are its own citizens. Singapore is a Chinese dominated country. Of the total population about 76% people are Chinese. The word Singapore is derived from a Sanskrit word - 'Singapura' which means 'Lion City'. Singapore is also called 'Garden City' or a 'City in a Garden' because of the amount of lush green beauty in this country. The national Language of Singapore is Malay and its official languages are English, Mandarin and Tamil. Singapore is also known for Singlish or Singaporean English which is a mix of English and Malay and some other local languages. The government has started a campaign called 'the Speak Good English Movement', against Singlish as they feel it makes Singaporeans look less educated and intelligent than they are.

History

Singapore was established as a British trading company in 1819 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. When Raffles landed in Singapore, he paid the then Sultan a sum of money for a piece of land in the South of Singapore. In August 1824, Dr. John Crawfurd signed a treaty with the Sultan for control over the whole tropical island. The country was a given the rank of a colony in 1867. In 1941, due to weak defenses of the country, the Japanese attacked the colony. The British decided to surrender on 15th February 1942 at the Ford Motor Factory.

The country was renamed to Syonan-to (pronounced as Sho-nan-to), meaning Light of the South, during the rule. People of Singapore went through hard times during the Japanese rule. Many people were tortured or killed by the Japanese as they did not follow the rules properly or because they were suspected of going against the Japanese. The Japanese finally surrendered in September 1945. This was called the Japanese occupation. Singapore was then returned back to the British.

The hard times during World War II made the people think that the British were not as strong as before. Therefore, many people wanted independence. In 1963, Singapore joined with Malay, Sarah and Sarawak to form the new nation called-Malaysia. Malaysia was a country with many races. However, they adopted to give special privileges to Malay. Since, most of the people of Singapore were Chinese, they demanded equality for all. Also they wanted to set up a common market so that goods to Malaysia would not be taxed. However this was not done by the government of Malaysia and hence became a reason of quarrel between state government of Singapore and the federal government of Malaysia. Finally, Singapore separated from Malaysia and formed its own country in 9th August 1965.

Many people thought that Singapore will find it difficult to continue on its own. After Independence, the president of Singapore was Yusof bin Ishak and its prime minister was Lee Kuan Yew. In 1990, Goh Chok Tong replaced Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister, while Lee Kuan Yew became Senior Minister. When Goh Chok Tong was Prime Minister, Singapore went through the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the 2003 SARS outbreak and terrorist threats by Jemaah Islamiyah. In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Lee Kuan Yew, took over as Prime Minister. Goh Chok Tong became the Senior Minister, and Lee Kuan Yew became the Minister Mentor of Singapore.

 Culture and Economy

Singapore has people coming from different parts of the world. Foreigners make about 42% of the population. Hence Singapore is a mix of different cultures - British, Malay, Indian, Chinese and Perakan. Dining is an important part of life in Singapore. Its food elicits different cultures that are weaved in this country. Typical Singaporean food includes: Satay, Nasi lemak, Chilli crab, and Hainanese chicken rice.

Buddhism is the most widely practiced religion is Singapore with about 33% of its inhabitants following it. The next most practiced religion is Christianity. 17% of its denizens don't follow any religion. Singapore is the most religiously diverse nation.

The national flower of Singapore is: Vonda Miss Joaquim, a kind of a hybrid orchid. This makes Singapore the only country to have a hybrid plant as its national Flower.

Singapore has a strong economy which corroborates its large middle class group. It has the lowest unemployment rate among all the developing nations. The country is a hub of global shipping and logistics. Also many Multinational companies have their offices in Singapore. The national airline, Singapore Airline has a large global network which brings tourists and business travelers alike, to the city. The Keppel Harbour Port of Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world. The currency of Singapore is Singapore Dollar often abbreviated as SGD. Brunei dollar can also be used in place of SGD as they are similar in value. Singapore is a global commerce, finance and transport hub. Its standings include: 'easiest place to do business' (World Bank) for ten consecutive years, most 'technology-ready' nation (WEF), top International-meetings city (UIA), city with 'best investment potential' (BERI),  2nd most competitive country (WEF), 3rd largest foreign exchange centre, 3rd largest financial centre, 3rd largest oil refining and trading centre.

Geography

Singapore is made up of 63 islands, including the main island, which is known as Singapore Island to most people, but is also known as Pulau Ujong. About 23% of Singapore's land area is covered by forest and nature reserves. Even though there is very little primary rainforest left, there are more than 300 parks and four nature reserves in Singapore. Since it is a small country in size with rising population, Singapore has been reclaiming land from the sea around the island to meet the rise in demand for land. Singapore uses the landfill method to reclaim the sea at the south of the country. The country's rapid reclamation project has resulted in disputes with its neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

Singapore has hot and wet climate all year round. It has a tropical rainforest climateAlthough Singapore does not experience the four seasons, the period from May to June is usually warmer, while the period from November to January is cooler because of the more frequent rains and monsoonal winds in Singapore during the year end. Singapore follows the GMT+8 time zone, one hour ahead of the typical zone for its geographical location. The endeavor of the government of Singapore to soften the reckless Urbanization and improve the quality of life has resulted in Singapore being ranked fourth in the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, which measures the effectiveness of state policies for environmental sustainability.