|General background: Founded as a British trading
colony in 1819, Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963, but
withdrew two years later and became independent. It
subsequently became one of the world's most prosperous
countries, with strong international trading links (its
port is one of the world's busiest) and with per capita
GDP equal to that of the leading nations of Western
Area comparative: Slightly more
than 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC.
Climate: Tropical; hot, humid, rainy; two distinct
monsoon seasons - Northeastern monsoon from December
to March and Southwestern monsoon from June to September;
inter-monsoon - frequent afternoon and early evening
Terrain: Lowland; gently
undulating central plateau contains water catchment
area and nature preserve .
Population: 4,452,732 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Chinese 76.7%, Malay 14%, Indian
7.9%, other 1.4%
Religions: Buddhist (Chinese), Muslim (Malays),
Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Taoist, Confucianism
Language: Chinese (official), Malay (official
and national), Tamil (official), English (official)
Government type: Parliamentary republic
Legal system: Based on English common law;
has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Economic overview: Singapore, a highly developed
and successful free-market economy, enjoys a remarkably
open and corruption-free environment, stable prices,
and one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world.
The economy depends heavily on exports, particularly
in electronics and manufacturing, and was hard hit
in 2001 by the global recession and the slump in the
technology sector. In 2001, GDP contracted by 2.2%.
The economy is expected to recover in 2002 in response
to improvements in the US economy, and GDP growth
for 2002 is projected to be 3% to 4%. In the longer
term the government hopes to establish a new growth
path that will be less vulnerable to the external
business cycle than the current export-led model,
but is unlikely to abandon efforts to establish Singapore
as Southeast Asia's financial and high-tech hub.
Communication/Telephone system: Major consideration
given to serving business interests; excellent international
Places of interest: In Little India, you can
buy the best sari material or freshly ground spices.