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The Singapore Portal

Flag of Singapore
Location on the world map
Map of Singapore

Singapore is an island nation located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It lies 137 kilometres (85 mi) north of the Equator, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of Indonesia's Riau Islands. At 704.0 km² (272 sq mi), it is one of the few remaining city-states in the world and the smallest country in Southeast Asia. Despite its small size, Singapore has a population of slightly over 5 million people, of which 2.91 million were born locally.

The British East India Company established a trading post on the island in 1819. The main settlement up to that point was a Malay fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several hundred indigenous Orang Laut people also lived around the coast, rivers and smaller islands. The British used Singapore as a strategic trading post along the spice route. It became one of the most important commercial and military centres of the British Empire. Winston Churchill called it "Britain's greatest defeat" when it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Singapore reverted to British rule in 1945. In 1963, it merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. Less than two years later it split from the federation and became an independent republic on August 9, 1965. Singapore joined the United Nations on September 21 that same year.

Since independence, Singapore's standard of living has increased. A state-led industrialization drive, aided by foreign direct investment has created a modern economy based on electronics manufacturing, petrochemicals, tourism and financial services alongside the traditional entrepôt trade. Singapore is the 17th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. The small nation has a foreign reserve of S$222 billion (US$147 billion).

Selected Article

The watch tower of the Fort.
Fort Pasir Panjang or Labrador Battery is located within the lush Labrador Park at the southern tip of Singapore island. It was one of the 11 coastal artillery forts built by the British in the 19th century to defend the western passageway into Keppel Harbour against piracy and foreign naval powers. During the 1942 Battle of Pasir Panjang, the fort played a supporting role but a limited one in defending the Malay Regiments against the Japanese invasion at Bukit Chandu. In 1995, the site was gazetted by the National Heritage Board as one of the 11 World War II sites in Singapore.

Labrador was named after Labrador Bay which it overlooks the deep and calm water off its shores. The Long Ya Men (龙牙门) or Dragon's Teeth Gate, two craggy granite outcrops formerly stood on each side of the entrance to the New Harbour (now Keppel Harbour) as a navigation landmark to ancient mariners. The two rock outcrops were subsequently blown up by the Straits Settlement Surveyor, John Thomson, in August 1848 to widen the entrance to the harbour.

Selected Picture

An officer from the Tanglin Police Division
Credit: Huaiwei (9 August 2004)

The Tanglin Police Division (or 'E' Division, Chinese: 东陵警区) is a police division of the Singapore Police Force. It manages a varied, highly urbanised area of central Singapore, which includes the public housing towns of Bishan, Toa Payoh and parts of Kallang, large areas of private housing areas such as those in Bukit Timah and Novena, as well as key commercial areas such as Orchard Road and Clarke Quay.

Selected Biography

Teresa Hsu Chih (Chinese: 许哲; pinyin: Xǔ Zhe) was a Chinese-born Singaporean social worker. She was known affectionately as "Singapore's Mother Teresa" for her active lifelong devotion in helping the aged sick and destitutes in Singapore. She was the founder of the non-profit charities Heart to Heart Service and the Home for the Aged Sick, one of the first homes for the aged sick in Singapore. Before coming to Singapore, Teresa had been a social worker in China and Paraguay and a nurse in England. She led a simple and humble lifestyle, and spent almost all her savings on feeding and housing the poor and the elderly.

As a supercentenarian, Teresa was still actively involved in charity work, and she has the distinction of being one of the very few supercentenarians who were recognized for reasons other than their longevity. She was the oldest living person in Singapore at the time of her death.

In This Month

Did You Know

Photo of the City Hall and Old Supreme Court Building
  • ... that former chef Aziza Ali is credited with establishing Singapore's first Malay restaurant?
  • ... that the Singapore Constitution that came into force on 9 August 1965 was not drafted as a single document but was made up of provisions from three separate statutes?

Selected Panorama

A daytime view of Singapore's Central Area
Credit: Chensiyuan

The skyline of Singapore's Central Business District in daytime. Notable landmarks in the picture includes the new and old Supreme Court of Singapore and the skyscrapers in the Marina Bay area.


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