Ful Name: Republic of Singapore
Capital: Singapore City
Area: 699.1 sq km
Government: Parliamentary democracy
Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Long
Population: 4 million (growth rate 1.15%).
People: 76% Chinese, 15% Malay, 6% Indian
Time Zone: GMT/UTC+8
Currency: Singapore Dollar (S$ or SGD) = 100 cents
Country Dialing Code: +65
Internet domain: .sg
GDP (PPP): $222.7 billion (2007 est.) Growth: 7.5% (2007)
Inflation: 7.5% (April 2008)
Official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil
Religion: 31% Taoist, 28% Buddhist, 18% Muslim, 10% Christian, 4% Hindu
Geography: Singapore's main territory is a diamond-shaped island, although her territory includes surrounding smaller islands. Singapore is slightly more than 3.5 times the size of Washington DC. Of Singapore's dozens of smaller islands, Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the larger ones. Most of Singapore is no more than 15 meters above sea level. The highest point of Singapore is Bukit Timah, with a height of 164 m (538 ft) and made up of igneous rock, granite. Hills and valleys of sedimentary rock dominate the northwest, while the eastern region consists of sandy and flatter land. Singapore has no natural lakes, but reservoirs and water catchment areas have been constructed to store fresh water for Singapore's water supply.
Singapore has reclaimed land with earth obtained from its own hills, the seabed, and neighbouring countries. As a result, Singapore's land area has grown from 581.5 km² in the 1960s to 699 km² today, and may grow by another 100 km² by 2030.
Climate: Singapore is 1 degree north of the equator. Singapore's climate is classified as equatorial (Koppen climate classification Af), with no true distinct seasons. Owing to its geographical location and maritime exposure, its climate is characterized by uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity and abundant rainfall. The average annual rainfall is around 2,370 mm (93 in). The highest 24-hour rainfall figures ever recorded in history was 512mm (1978), 467mm (1969) and 366mm (19 December 2006) . The temperature hovers around a diurnal range of a minimum 23 °C and a maximum of 34 °C. The highest and lowest recorded temperature in its maritime history is 35.8 °C and 19.4 °C respectively. Relative humidity has a diurnal range in the high 90's in the early morning to around 60% in the mid-afternoon, but does go below 50% at times. During prolonged heavy rain, relative humidity often reaches 100%. Generally, there is much more rainfall on the western side of the island than on the eastern portion of Singapore, owing to a rain shadow effect. Thus, the eastern side of Singapore is much drier and slightly hotter than western Singapore. This can cause slight weather disparities from one side of the island to the other. This is significant to note because even a small hill such as Bukit Timah can cause this phenomenon. Despite Singapore's small size, there may be sunshine on one side while there is rain on the other.
Further contrasts that prevent true all-year uniformity are the monsoon seasons which happen twice each year. The first one is the Northeast Monsoon which occurs from December to early March. The second is the Southeast Monsoon season which occurs from June to September. Periods between monsoon seasons receive less rain and wind. During the Northeast Monsoon, northeast winds prevail, sometimes reaching 20 km/h. There are cloudy conditions in December and January with frequent afternoon showers. Spells of widespread moderate to heavy rain occur lasting from 1 to 3 days at a stretch. It is relatively drier in February till early March. It is also generally windy with wind speeds sometimes reaching 30 to 40 km/h in the months of January and February. During the Southeast Monsoon season, southeast/southwest winds prevail. Isolated to scattered showers occur in the late morning and early afternoon. Early morning "Sumatra" squall lines are common.
Banks and foreign exchange: The local currency is Singapore dollars and cents. Notes come in denominations of SGD 2, SGD 5, SGD 10, SGD 20, SGD 50, SGD 100, SGD 500, SGD 1,000, and SGD 10,000. Coins come in denomination of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and SGD 1.
Banking hours are Monday to Friday: 10 am to 3 pm, and Saturday: 9.30 am to 1 PM (some banks are open until 3 PM). Sunday, 9.30 am to 3 PM (some banks in Orchard Road). Most banks handle travelers' cheques and change foreign currencies. However, some banks do not have foreign exchange dealings on Saturday. Passports are required when cashing travelers' cheques. A nominal commission may be charged.
Credit / Charge Cards: Major cards are widely accepted by establishments in Singapore. Should any shop insist on adding a surcharge, contact the respective card company to report the errant shop-owner.
Individual income tax in Singapore forms part of two main sources of Income tax, the other being corporate taxes on companies. Payable on an annual bases, it is currently based on the progressive tax system (for local residents), with taxes ranging from 0% to 20% since Year of Assessment 2007. The Year of Assessment (YA) is based on the calendar year commencing 1 January to 31 December, and is payable on a preceding year basis, whereby taxes payable per year of assessment is based on income earned in the preceding calendar year.
Telecommunications: Singapore continues to maintain a positive outlook in the country’s telecommunications sector. The island state built a competitive telecoms market over the past three decades, aided by its geographical location and its excellent infrastructure. It was one of the first countries in the world to have a fully digital telephone network. This report looks at the ways in which this sector is now growing in Singapore and how it has been assisted in its development by the government’s strong commitment to and bold action in the ongoing deregulation of the industry. It is noted that, as the local market saturates, the Singaporean telcos are looking offshore to expand and export their developed capabilities.
Medical Facilities: Medical Facilities in Singapore are well established and easily accessible by one and all. Singapore has private as well as public hospitals and specialist centers for the benefit of its residents and citizens. Most of the practitioners are well established and can be located from the listing in the phone directory or online information websites or portals.
With up to date and latest medical equipments and diagnostic methods, treatment of various diseases such diabetes, cancer, stress, hypertension, diabetes, mental disorders, orthopedics, gynecology, cardiac diseases is done. Some of the other medical problems treated here are dentistry, ophthalmology, sports medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, physiotherapy and rehabilitation etc. Singapore is also a centre to attend and treat medical problems with traditional Chinese medicine too.
It is perfectly safe to drink water straight from the tap in Singapore. However, for those who prefer bottled mineral water, local supermarkets and grocers always have ample stocks.
Immigration Visas: Most Western nationals either do not require a visa at all or do not require a visa for a social stay of up to 90 days. A 30-day permit is issued on arrival, and extensions are difficult to obtain.
Singapore's government is strict on drug laws, with the death penalty applied for drug trafficking. It is also against the entry of firearms, controlled drugs, endangered species of wildlife, chewing gum and cigarette lighters in the shape of a firearm. Smoking in public buses, the MRT, taxis, lifts and air-conditioned places is also deemed against the law; with fines up to S$1,000. The government is also adamant that littering is an offence and carries penalties of a fine of S$1,000 or more; and also a stint of corrective work order.
Tipping: Tipping is seldom necessary, as a 7% goods and services tax (GST) and a service charge of 10% is usually added automatically (though always double-check the bill). However it is customary to spare a few dollars for efficient waiters, bellboys and taxi drivers.
Singapore Flag: The colours of the Singapore flag represent red for brotherhood and equality; white for purity and virtue. The crescent moon represents a young nation on the rise. The five stars stand for Singapore's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
The crescent moon originally served as a symbol of assurance to the Malays in 1959 —the year the flag was designed— that Singapore was not a Chinese state. Today it is generally said that the moon signified a young nation rising. The flag was designed initially to have three stars, until leaders such as then Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye expressed concern that Singapore might be perceived to have associations with the Malayan Communist Party, the flag of which also had three stars. The flag was originally meant to be red as red is a very traditional Chinese color. But because of the fear of Communism in those days, a completely red flag was abandoned.