Geography and Landscape


The Republic of Singapore (officially: Republic of Singapore; Malay: Republik Singapura; Chinese: Xinjiapo Gonghegno; singa = lion, pura = city) is an independent city-state in Southeast Asia, consisting of the main island of Singapore Island (541 km2) and 58 other islands, of which about half are inhabited.

Singapore Satellite PhotoSingapore Satellite PhotoPhoto: Public Domain

Other important islands are Pulau Tekong (24 km2), Pulau Ubin (10 km2) and Sentosa (3.5 km2). Singapore is located 137 km north of the equator on the Straits of Malacca. North of Singapore are Thailand and the Malay Peninsula. Brunei and the Malaysian provinces of Sabah and Sarawak are located to the east of Singapore. South of Singapore are many islands of the Indonesian archipelago and islands of the Philippines are northeast of Singapore. Singapore is separated from the Malay Peninsula by the Johor Strait and from Indonesia by the Singapore Strait.


Most of the forests and open spaces are found in the central part of Singapore Island. The western part is an area of sedimentary rock with hills and valleys. The southeast is flat and sandy. The highest point in Singapore is Bukit Timah (163 meters). Half of Singapore Island is built up with houses, condominiums, skyscrapers and office buildings.

Boulder on top of Bukit Timah, Singapore's highest pointBoulder on top of Bukit Timah, Singapore's highest pointPhoto: Leonard Reback CC BY-SA 3.0 no changes made

Large tracts of land are still created by building dams and draining marshes. Forty percent of the land consists of parks, plantations, military areas and water reservoirs. Four percent of Singapore is covered by forests.

Several rivers flow to the coast from inland. The Seletar is the longest at 15 km! The main river is the Singapore River around which the heart of the city is built.

Singapore is connected to the peninsular of Malaysia by two highways: in the north by the one-kilometer elevated causeway, and in the west by the second link.

Climate and Weather

Singapore lightningSingapore lightningPhoto: Joost Rooijmans CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Thanks to its location near the equator, Singapore has a tropical climate with very high average temperatures throughout the year. The average temperature is 26.7° C. It almost never gets “colder” than 20°C, not even at night. During the day the temperature almost always rises to around 30°C.

The average humidity is 80% on average, but the oppressive heat is softened by an always blowing sea breeze. It rains all year round in short, heavy showers, but most precipitation falls between November and January. On average there is about 2400 mm of precipitation per year. During the southwest monsoon there is less rainfall. During the months of April / May and October / November it can be a storm. Sudden storms, “sumatras”, occur three to four times a month in the period from April to November. It rains and blows very hard and it cools down temporarily.

May to July are the driest months. The sun shines the least in December. Due to its location near the equator, the period from February to October has an average of 12 hours of sunlight.

Plants and Animals


Bukit Timah Nature Reserve., SingaporeBukit Timah Nature Reserve., SingaporePhoto: Jeffchat1 in the public domain

Singapore used to be completely covered with tropical rainforest and was very swampy. Little is left of that now. Today, the rainforest is only found in a reserve like Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. In total, Singapore still has approximately 300 ha of rainforest. The rest of the forests, about 1800 ha, have been planted. The tropical rainforest consists mainly of tropical hardwood trees such as seraya and merantis that can grow up to 40 meters high. Many other plants (epiphytes) grow on these trees, such as the stag horn fern. Singapore has approximately 500 ha of mangrove forests, especially in the north.

Vanda Miss Joaquin, Singapore's National FlowerVanda Miss Joaquin, Singapore's National FlowerPhoto: Llamg CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Various types of grasses, cyper grass and creepers grow along the coast in the sandy areas. Inland, coconut palms, casuarina's, pandanus, pong pong and the yellow-flowered hibiscus grow. About 200 plants grow in urban areas, of which only about 20% are indigenous. The vegetation in parks, gardens and along the road is usually not indigenous. For example, the frangipani comes from Mexico, the caesalpinia from the West Indies and the lantana and bougainvillea from South America. Along the roads we also find angsana and jambulaut. In Singapore we also find many aquatic plants such as waterweed and bladderwort. Singapore's national flower is the Vanda 'Miss Joaquim'.


Flying lemur SingaporeFlying lemur SingaporePhoto: John Mason (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

Most of the animals now found in Singapore are in fact “obliged” to live in the forests that remain. Vertebrates that live high in the trees include the flying lemur, two squirrels, the long-tailed macaque, and the flying lizard. Shrews, rats, snakes and three species of frogs live on the ground and among the bushes. Singapore has several bat species such as the small long-tongued bat, the cave bat, the small-headed bamboo bat and the naked bat. The little mouse deer and the scaly anteater are rarely seen. The national animals of Singapore are the lion (Singa Pura = city of the lion) and the Malay tiger.

Malayan Tigers SingaporeMalayan Tigers SingaporePhoto: Malcolm CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Singapore has about 335 species of birds, 215 of which are native; the rest are hibernators. Of the 215 native species, 100 are fairly common and 52 are threatened with extinction. In 1995 9 more species of birds were spotted that had never been seen before.

The most common hibernators are the golden Pacific plover and the purple starling. The most common native birds are the Javan myna and the common tern. Occasionally the endangered Chinese egret and the pied hornbill can be seen. The national bird of Singapore is the Crimson sunbird.

Crimson sunbird is the national bird of SingaporeCrimson sunbird is the national bird of SingaporePhoto: Yathin S K CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Life in the streams, ponds and water reservoirs is dominated by tadpoles, prawns, water bugs and damselflies. Mussels, barnacles, snails, crabs and lobsters live in the mangrove swamps and other brackish water. A little further out to sea we find a very colorful underwater world with sea urchins, coral, anemones, clown fish, occasionally poisonous scorpion fish and stonefish. 150 species of coral are found on the reefs off the coast of Singapore.


From trading post to trading center

Singapore Stone from the 13th centurySingapore Stone from the 13th centuryPhoto: John Callas CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Chinese traders have been sailing along today's Singapore towards India since the 5th century. Very little is known of these earliest times. It is certain that it was not the first major transhipment port in the region. In the 7th century, Shriwijaya, a Buddhist kingdom based in Palembang, Sumatra, ruled the Strait of Malacca, an important trade route.

Singapore was part of the Shriwijaya Empire from the 8th century onwards and was nothing more than a trading post at that time. In the 10th century, this empire also ruled the Malay peninsula. Raids from rival kingdoms and the arrival of Islam, Shriwijaya lost control of the area in the 13th century.

The sultanate of Malacca soon took over and Singapore developed into a prosperous trading center in the 13th and 14th centuries until it was destroyed by Javanese in 1377 and the inhabitants moved to Malacca. The island then belonged to the Madjapahit Empire as an indirectly controlled area.

Domination by Portuguese, British and Dutch

Map of Singapore from 1604Map of Singapore from 1604Photo: Public domain

Armed with a cross and a cannon, the Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511 and tried to ward off Islamic influences and take over the trade hegemony. Malacca soon fell and the Muslim traders left. In the meantime, the Dutch founded Batavia (is now Jakarta) in Indonesia and eventually took over Malacca from the Portuguese in 1641.

At the end of the 18th century, the British orientated themselves in this region. They were looking for a port to protect their trade routes that ran between China, Malaya and India. War in Europe led the French to occupy Holland in 1795. The British, themselves at war with France, took the opportunity to take over the Dutch possessions in Southeast Asia, including Malacca. After the Napoleonic wars, the British returned the possessions of the Dutch. However, many Britons disagreed and saw the further expansion of the British Empire in Southeast Asia lost.


Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles, SingaporeSir Thomas Stanford Raffles, SingaporePhoto: Public domain

One such British was Thomas Stamford Raffles, then Lieutenant Governor of Java. He therefore asked for permission to set up a trading post to secure the British trade routes in this region. He initially chose the island of Riau, but the Dutch were too quick for him. Raffles then began negotiations with the Sultan of Johor, the local ruler.

When Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819, Johor's empire was deeply divided after the death of the old sultan. His youngest son seized power while his oldest son, Hussein, was staying elsewhere at the time. The Dutch made an agreement with the younger brother while Raffles supported the older brother. Raffles even proclaimed him sultan, residing in Singapore. He also signed an agreement with the Chief Justice of Singapore (t Menggong) and bequeathed him an estate on the Singapore River. In addition, he gave them some money every year and thus secured the support of these powerful individuals. In 1824 he bought them out with the Sumatra tract and Singapore became part of the British East India Company. The Dutch were not very impressed by this and continued as they pleased.

Singapore is definitely in British hands

View of Singapore 1830View of Singapore 1830Photo: Public domain

Yet they already concluded a treaty with the British in 1824 in which they divided the spheres of influence in Asia among themselves. Singapore was thus assigned to the British. In 1826, Singapore, along with Malacca and Penang, two other British settlements in the peninsula of Malaysia, was placed under one administration and were called the "Straits settlements". Colonel William Farquhar was appointed by Raffles as the first resident of Singapore, who subsequently fell short of his duties. Three years after Farquhar, Raffles took over the leadership of Singapore. Raffle's vision was for Singapore to become the great successor to the transhipment ports of the Shriwijaya Empire.

Free trade, the attraction of settlers, the natural advantages of the port and especially the large influx of Chinese were the factors that made the fishing village develop into a large city in the 19th century. The plans with Singapore also meant that the population groups present would be more or less separated from each other and that each got its own piece of the island. Thus, the Europeans got land to the northeast of the government buildings; Chinese predominated at the mouth of the Singapore River; the Indians were concentrated around Kampong Kapor and Serangoon road; the Arab Street area was for Gujarati and other Muslim merchants; Tamil Muslim merchants had their shops around the Market Street Area; the Malay population lived in the swampy north of the city.

The large number of Chinese forced Raffles to work with them. The Chinese were organized into so-called “kongsi,” clans of ritual brotherhoods, triads and secret societies. These kongsis became increasingly important in the development of Singapore in the nineteenth century, especially the trade in pepper, tin and rubber grew enormously. The biggest profit maker, however, was the opium trade, which was transported from India to China. The revenues from this trade, but also from their own opium farms, accounted for half of all revenues until the twentieth century.

Singapore Crown Colony of Great Britain

Singapore, Victoria Dock around 1890Singapore, Victoria Dock around 1890Photo: Public domain

On April 1, 1867 the Straits Settlements became a crown colony of the British under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Office in London. The rise of the steamship and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 made Singapore even more important for the ships from Europe that sailed to East Asia. In the seventies of the nineteenth century, Singapore became the main center of the rubber trade. Before the end of the nineteenth century, prosperity rose to unprecedented levels and trade increased eightfold between 1873 and 1913. Prosperity naturally also attracted many immigrants, especially the Chinese. In 1860 the number of Chinese was 61.9% of the population, Indians 16.5%, Malaysians 13.5% and Europeans 8.5%. Peace and prosperity ended abruptly when the Japanese bombed the city on December 8, 1941. Singapore was occupied by the Japanese on February 15, 1942, who named the island Sjonan and the city of Sjonanto. This occupation would last three and a half years. British troops returned in September 1945 and Singapore came under British military rule. This period of military rule lasted until March 1946. At the same time, the Straits Settlement was dissolved, but the China-oriented population, which had also opposed the Japanese, remained unsettled for a long time. On April 1, 1946, Singapore became a crown colony, and Penang and Malacca became part of the Malay Union in 1946 and the Federation of Malaysia in 1948.

Post-war Singapore was different from pre-war Singapore. The population, especially the traders and merchants, pushed for a vote in the government. In July 1947 this desire was met by allowing elections for six members of the Legislative College. The first elections in Singapore were held on 20 March 1948. A state of emergency was declared in June 1948 because the Malaya Communist Party threatened to take Singapore by force. This state of emergency would last twelve years. Towards the end of 1953, the British government appointed a commission headed by Sir George Rendel to examine Singapore's constitutional position and make recommendations for changes. Rendel's proposals were accepted by the government and served as the basis for a new constitution that would give Singapore a greater degree of independence.

David Marshall, SingaporeDavid Marshall, SingaporePhoto: Smunconlaw CC 4.0 International no changes made

The 1955 elections were the first political elections to be held in Singapore. David Marshall became the first chief minister on April 6, 1955. Marshall resigned on June 6, 1956 after breaking off negotiations in London for full internal self-government. Lim Yew Hock, Marshall's deputy and Secretary of Labor, succeeded Marshall as Prime Minister. The March 1957 mission led by Lim Yew Hock was more successful.

On May 28, 1958, the "Constitutional Agreement" was signed in London and in 1959 self-government was achieved. Full general elections (51 members) were held for the first time in May 1959. On June 3, 1959, the new constitution was enacted, Singapore's self-government proclaimed, and Sir William Goode became the first head of state. The first government was sworn in on June 5 with Lee Kuan Yew as Singapore's first prime minister.

Lee Kuan Yew, SingaporeLee Kuan Yew, SingaporePhoto: Wellington City Archives collection CC 4.0 International no changes made

The coalition in the parliament of the moderate People's Action Party and the Communist Party worked together with great difficulty. The PAP wanted full independence for Singapore as part of a non-communist Malaysia; the communists strived for a purely communist state. Tensions between the two parties led to a split between the two parties in 1961. Another major party in this struggle were the Malays who agreed to merge into a federation with Malaya. The British would then retain control of foreign affairs, defense and internal security. On May 27, 1961, the Malay Prime Minister Rahman proposed to strengthen political and economic cooperation between Malaysia, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei. They wanted a common policy on defense, foreign affairs and internal security. Issues such as education and labor remained the responsibility of the individual partners. A referendum held in Singapore on September 1, 1962 showed that the vast majority of the population was in favor of the plans. The Federation of Malaysia was founded on September 16, 1963, except for Brunei which withdrew. Indonesia and the Philippines strongly opposed this merger. Due to the difficulties of the state government of Singapore and the federal government of Malaysia, Singapore was expelled from the federation on 9 August 1965. On September 21, Singapore was admitted to the United Nations.

Singapore independent

On December 12, 1965, the republic of Singapore was proclaimed with the first president Yusof bin Ishak. A very extensive industrial plan was immediately drawn up and many industrial sites were newly built or expanded. Some laws were also passed, all aimed at giving free rein to the development of the economy.

In 1971 the last British troops withdrew from Singapore. Singapore entered the 1970s as a politically stable state with very high economic growth. In fact, parliament consisted of only one party all that time. In all elections to date, the PAP under the leadership of the Lee Kuan Yew won the vast majority or even all the seats! Lee Kuan Kew pursued a tough domestic policy. The trade union movement was silenced and political opponents were imprisoned or expelled, often accused of communist sympathies.

In 1990, Goh Chok Tong took over from Lee Kuan Yew, becoming only the second prime minister since 1959. However, it quickly became clear that the former prime minister as 'senior minister' continued to play an important role behind the scenes. In 1997 the PAP won the elections again with 81 out of 83 seats!

The first free presidential elections were held on 28 August. Singapore's first democratically elected president was Ong Teng Cheong, who died of lung cancer in February 2002.

Lee Hsien Loong, SingaporeLee Hsien Loong, SingaporePhoto: Sikarin Thanachaiary CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) won the 2006 parliamentary elections. The party received 82 of the 84 elected seats, 37 of which for lack of a rival candidate. The other two seats went to the Workers' Party. It was the first elections since Lee Hsien Loong succeeded Goh Chok Tong as prime minister in 2004. In 2008 and early 2009 Singapore will experience a recession. In July 2009 there are signs of recovery.

The President of Singapore has been Tony Tan Keng Yam since September 1, 2011. In November 2012, Singapore will face its first strike since the 1980s. In June 2013, Singapore asked Indonesia to take action against the forest fires. The air in Singapore was very polluted. In March 2014, Singapore became the second country in the world to regulate virtual money flows such as Bitcoin and Lee Hsien Loong became the new prime minister.Halinah Jacob, SingaporeHalinah Jacob, SingaporePhoto: Lihat di bawah CC 3.0 no changes made

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister, passed away on March 23, 2015 at the age of 91. In September 2015, parliamentary elections were held, the PAP won 83 of the 89 seats to be won. Singapore will have a first in 2017 Halimah Jacob is Singapore's first female president. In the elections of July 2020, the PAP retains the majority with the same result as in the previous elections.


Singapore street sceneSingapore street scenePhoto: Sippsala CC 2.5 Generic no changes made

Singapore had 5,888,926 inhabitants in 2017. On average there are about 8224 people per km2, making Singapore one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Almost 30% of the total population is under 25 years old. In 2017 the population grew by 1.82%. The Singaporean lives an average of 85.2 years. (2017)

The Chinese are the largest population group with 74.2%. In the 19th and 20th centuries, many Chinese immigrants came in search of work and a better life. The Chinese migrants mainly came from the southern provinces of China. They soon had their own habitats in Singapore and dialect lines still run through the old part of the city.

Malays make up about 13.3% of the population. The Malays are the original inhabitants of Singapore. They emigrated from the Malay Peninsula and from Indonesia to Singapore. The majority of Malays live in high-rise districts like Geylang, as well as the few remaining Singapore countryside and northern islands. There they live in some typical Malay kampongs.

Indians make up about 9.2% of the population. They arrived in Singapore in the mid-19th century and were on their way to Malaya to work on the plantations. Most of them did indeed continue to Malaya, a small part stayed behind in Singapore.

About 60% of the Indian population are Tamils and about 20% are from Kerala in South India. The rest include Bangladeshis, Punjabis and Kashmiri. Approx. 3.3% of the population (approx. 150,000 people) consists of Europeans, Americans, Australians, Japanese and Arabs.


Warning sign in the four languages of SingaporeWarning sign in the four languages of SingaporePhoto: Danielseoh at en.wikipedia CC 3.0 no changes made

The official languages of Singapore are Malay, (Mandarin) Chinese, Tamil and English. Malay is the national language and English is the language of the administrative apparatus. Mandarin Chinese is increasingly being used in place of Chinese dialects such as Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese and Foochow. In addition to Tamil, languages such as Punjabi, Telegu, Hindi and Bengali are spoken by Indians. The government-led campaign to promote Mandarin Chinese has been successful. After independence, the government promoted bilingual education in Eastern languages. The use of English declined sharply. They soon came back to this, because English became the language of trade and government that in fact held all population groups together. In 1987 it became an official language of instruction in the schools. All children are now taught in their mother tongue in addition to English. This is done to prevent those populations from losing contact with their traditions.

Despite the emphasis placed on learning the official languages, a kind of general dialect has emerged over time, called “Singlish”. It is somewhat similar to English, but it also contains many linguistic elements of Chinese, Tamil and Malay. Furthermore, phrases are abbreviated, words are switched, and rhythm and stress are very remarkable.

Some typical examples are:


Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple, SingaporeKong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple, SingaporePhoto: Terence Ong CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Based on 1995 censuses, 85.5% of Singaporeans were religious in any way. The different population groups each have their own religion. There were more than 800,000 Buddhists and more than 500,000 Taoists. These groups make up more than 50% of the population over the age of ten. Islam is adhered to by approximately 350,000 Muslims, mostly of Malay descent. There are about 100,000 Roman Catholics and 220,000 other Christian groups, mostly of Chinese descent. There is also a group of 80,000 Hindus, mainly from India. The majority of the Chinese adhere to a combination of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism with their own beliefs, duties and beliefs. Most of the Buddhists belong to the Mahagenese school. Ancestor worship is central to their culture and these ancestors come "into the world of light" during the Hungry Ghosts festival, aka Zhong Yuang Jie.

Sacrifices Hungry Ghost Festival, SingaporeSacrifices Hungry Ghost Festival, SingaporePhoto: ProjectManhattan CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

This thirty-day festival begins with the offering of gifts to appease the evil spirits. It ends with more sacrifices on the last day, intended to hasten the return to hell. Throughout Singapore, ghosts are entertained with street operas, puppet operas and musical performances.

 Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Singapore Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, SingaporePhoto: Public domain

There are about 20 Hindu temples in Singapore, two of which have been declared a national monument. The history of Catholicism dates back to 1819 when the first missionary post was founded in Singapore. As of July 1, 1981, Singapore has a Roman Catholic Archbishop and an Anglican Bishop.

Four months after Raffles arrived in Singapore, he gave some land to the London Missionary Society. Five months later, the first Protestant missionaries arrived. They soon founded seminars and Bible schools.

There are 16 registered Sikh religious and social organizations and eight Sikh temples in Singapore. There are also many small religious groups.


State structure

Singapore Parliament BuildingSingapore Parliament BuildingPhoto: Edwin Lee CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a president elected by the people as head of state. The president is elected for a term of six years. He is a powerful man because he can, among other things, disapprove government budgets and appoint top officials. The Board of Presidential Advisors is appointed to provide advice and recommendations to the President. The presidential council consists of 21 members, who ensure that the legislation does not discriminate between the different population groups.

The cabinet is headed by the Prime Minister, who is chosen by the President from among the members of Parliament. Ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister and are also selected from among the members of Parliament.

The parliament consists of a single chamber of 83 members who are elected every five years through the district electoral system. All minority groups must be represented in parliament. There are also six appointed members who are expected to provide independent views on the country's problems and issues. They are appointed by the president for a term of two years. Everyone aged 21 and older is required to vote. For the current political situation see chapter history.


All schools in Singapore, be they government or mission schools, accept children of all races and religions. The schools that teach in English are the most popular. However, as Singapore is a multicultural society, it is mandatory to learn a second language, Malay, Chinese or Tamil.

School of arts , Singapore School of arts, SingaporePhoto: Snhaetnhlaonncg CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Primary education is free but not compulsory. And it can take six or eight years, depending on the abilities of the student. In the first years, the emphasis is strongly on learning the languages and on arithmetic. Children who cannot handle it go to classes where only one language is taught. Due to the large numbers of students, there are two sessions per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Students can follow one of the two.

After primary school, you can go to general secondary education. General secondary education lasts four or five years. One can also follow vocational education or industrial and technical courses. Furthermore, there are commercial courses and pre-university courses for students who want to go to universities. Pupils who cannot follow a course due to a lack of money are financially helped by the state, so that everyone has equal opportunities. Much attention is also paid to the moral, social and physical development of the students.

At the end of 1997, there were 196 primary schools, 147 secondary schools, two universities, four polytechnics and 34 technical and commercial training institutes. The International University of Singapore (since 1980) is formed from the University of Singapore (since 1905) and Nanyang University (since 1956). Nanyang Technical University (since 1991) has emerged from Nanyang Technical Institute (since 1981).



Singapore central business districtSingapore central business districtPhoto: Zairon CC 4.0 International no changes made

Due to its geographic location, Singapore has become an international center for industry and trade. Singapore has the advantage of a deep harbor and is located on one of the busiest trade routes from the east to the west. Furthermore, Singapore has a free market economy in which private business occupies the largest place and a well-developed communication and financial infrastructure. The government nevertheless has a great influence on economic development through legislation, special bodies such as the Economic Development Board (EDB), the provision of subsidies and tax breaks.

The importance of the port has declined somewhat in recent years, but this is more than offset by the development of Singapore as the center of business and financial services (75.2% of the gross national product (2017).

Singapore is still a draw for foreign investors. As early as the 1960s and 1970s, the government has taken up economic development with great success. Foreign investors were encouraged by favorable circumstances such as a large and well-educated workforce, low wages, a stable working environment, attractive investment subsidies and tax incentives to settle in Singapore to have part of their mass production carried out there.

Agriculture and Fisheries

Indoor vertical farming SingaporeIndoor vertical farming SingaporePhoto: Lianoland Wimons CC 4.0 International no changes made

Agriculture plays a subordinate role in the economy, partly due to the limited available land area. About 6% of the total land area is used for agricultural activities. In particular, a lot of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and eggs must be imported. It is significant that only 6% of all required vegetables are grown in Singapore itself. In order to get the most out of the 273 farms, a lot of money has been invested in agrotechnology in recent years. Furthermore, traditional mixed farms are being replaced by specialized intensive farms. The few forests have no economic significance. The fishery is not very developed. Orchids and aquarium fish are the only exports of interest in the agricultural sector.


Industry SingaporeIndustry SingaporePhoto: Jacklee CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The processing industry supplies more than 24.8% (2017) of the gross national product and about 25.6% of the working population finds a job there. The main branch is the petroleum processing industry, followed by the electronics industry, chemicals and shipbuilding and repair. The country's economic growth is mainly based on its ports and service companies. The seven ports of Singapore together are among the largest in the world. They are home to the largest export refining complex in Asia, processing more than a million barrels per day.

Trade and Banking

Export SingaporeExport SingaporePhoto: Celinaqi CC 4.0 International no changes made

Trade is the second important economic sector, namely the bonded warehouse of rubber, tropical hardwood and pepper, with Singapore serving as a transit port for Malaysia.

Main exports are: petroleum products, machinery and transport equipment, textiles, rubber, iron ore, tin and copra. In 2017, exports amounted to $ 397 billion. Main export partners are the United States, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Great Britain, China and Germany. Main import commodities are petroleum, raw materials, machinery and food. In 2017, imports were worth $ 380 billion. Main import partners are the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Taiwan, Germany and Saudi Arabia.

Singapore is an international financial center, home to a large number of foreign banks and financial institutions. Since 1968, Singapore has had an important Asian dollar market and a gold exchange has been established. The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Board of Commissioners of Currency jointly exercise the function of central bank.


Singapore Changi AirportSingapore Changi AirportPhoto: Calvin Teo CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

A 25 km long railway line connects Singapore with the mainland Malaysian rail network via a bridge over the Johore Strait.

In order to restrict car traffic, only passenger cars with at least four occupants may enter the city center free of charge.

The extensive public transport network is maintained by the Singapore Bus Service. Construction of a 67 km long metro network was completed in 1990.

Singapore has one of the busiest ports in the world, which makes it vital to the economy. Singapore has a distribution port with shipping lines to more than 600 ports around the world. It is one of the most important transhipment ports in Asia and is also of increasing importance for shipping traffic to China. There are oil piers for super tankers and modern container terminals. The Port of Singapore Authority manages the seven ports.

Due to its location, Singapore's natural harbor has also developed into a major departure point for cruises to destinations in Southeast Asia.

Chiangi Airport (1981) often ranks first in the rankings of “best airports in the world”.

Singapore International Airport serves 133 cities in 53 countries.

The national airline Singapore Airlines (SIA) is one of the most successful airlines in the world. SIA flies to 98 cities in 46 countries.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Singapore Skyline at NightSingapore Skyline at NightPhoto: Unwicked CC 4.0 International no changes made

In recent years, tourism has become an increasingly important factor in the Singaporean economy. The tourism industry, strongly promoted by the Singapore Tourist Board, lures many visitors to the island.

Orchard Road SingaporeOrchard Road SingaporePhoto: Terence CC 2.5 Generic no changes made

Most tourists come from Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, Europe, Canada and the United States. Although Singapore does not have that much to offer in terms of attractions, it still exerts a great appeal. For example, tourists from Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Thailand and the Philippines come to shop tax-free. Most of the shops are centered around Orchard Road, Singapore's main tourist area.

Singapore River cruiseSingapore River cruisePhoto:EurovisionNim CC 4.0 International no changes made

Tourists from Australia, New Zealand and other Western countries also come for the shops, as well as the fascinating variety of religions, cultures, customs and traditions of the different population groups. In addition, Singapore is one of the safest cities in the world. Singapore is also clean and green and has a wide choice of good accommodations. The Singapore Tourist Board also undertakes major recruitment efforts abroad and promotes the holding of conventions and trade exhibitions. Popular with tourists is a cruise on the Singapore River.

Click the menu button at the top left of the screen for more information


Beliƫn, H. / Maleisiƫ : Singapore

Hellander, P. / Singapore
Lonely Planet,

Oon, H. / Singapore
Van Reemst

Ministry of Information and the Arts

Wee, J. / Singapore
Chelsea House Publishers

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated December 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb