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Did you know: 

Singapore has won the annual Commonwealth Essay Competition nine times since 1983 when it was launched; no other country has won more than three times. Singapore is by far the most densely populated country in the Commonwealth. Scholarships for postgraduate study in integrative sciences and engineering are awarded by Singapore to citizens of other Commonwealth countries under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.

Key facts

Joined Commonwealth: 
5,412,000 (2013)
3.5% p.a. 1990–2013
World ranking 9
Official language: 
English, Chinese (Mandarin), Malay, Tamil
GMT plus 8hr
Singapore dollar (S$)


Land area 699 sq km, including 63 small islands.
Capital city: 
Population density (per sq. km): 


The name ‘Singapore’ derives from the Sanskrit Singa Pura (‘City of the Lion’). Situated in South-East Asia and lying just north of the equator, the Republic of Singapore is separated from Peninsular Malaysia by the narrow Johor Straits (1km wide), crossed by a causeway. A number of smaller islands are included within its boundaries and a few kilometres to the south are islands belonging to Indonesia.

Main towns: 

Singapore City, Jurong, Bukit Panjang, Serangoon, Katong and Changi.


There are 3,260km of roads, all paved, with 118 flyovers, the longest of which is the 2.1km Keppel Viaduct. The 42km Pan-Island Expressway is the longest road. Traffic congestion became a major problem and private traffic is rationed. A limited number of permits to put a vehicle on the public roads is auctioned every month, greatly increasing the cost of running a car. Traffic in the central business district is further discouraged by a system of tolls, policed electronically.

The Mass Rapid Transit System (MRT) connects the city with all residential areas and the international airport, serving more than 40 stations. A railway across the Straits of Johor causeway connects the island with the Peninsular Malaysian railway system and beyond to Thailand.

Singapore has an excellent harbour and is one of the world’s busiest ports. It comprises six terminals, a container port and several deep-water wharves.

Changi International Airport, 20km east of Singapore City, has three terminals; the third terminal was opened in January 2008.

International relations: 

Singapore is a member of Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, Non-Aligned Movement, United Nations and World Trade Organization. Singapore hosts the headquarters of Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation.


The land is flat apart from low hills (highest point is Bukit Timah at 163m). In the north-east large areas of swamp have been reclaimed. The island is drained by a number of small streams.


A hot and humid tropical climate, without defined seasons. Heavy showers November to January.


The most significant environmental issues are industrial pollution and seasonal smoke/haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia; and the finite land and freshwater resources to support a very high population density.


Outside conservation areas, much of the natural dense forest and swamp flora have been cleared, although there is extensive planting on any spare ground in urban areas, and Singapore aims to be a ‘garden city state’. To control the impact of industry and urban development, environmental regulations are strict. Forest covers three per cent of the land area and there was no significant loss of forest cover during 1990–2012. Arable land comprises one per cent of the total land area.


The last tiger was shot in 1932. Most of the animals found in Singapore are confined to the rainforest area of the nature reserves and include flying lemurs, squirrels and long-tailed macaques. Despite the urbanisation of the country, there are over 300 species of bird. Some ten mammal species and 14 bird species are thought to be endangered (2014).