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Singapore, small island republic in southeast Asia lying at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula.

Land and climate

Consisting of Singapore Island and several adjacent islets, Singapore has a total area of about 240 sq mi (622 sq km). Singapore Island is separated from the Malay Peninsula by the narrow Johore Strait crossed by a road and a railroad causeway that also has a pipeline bringing fresh water to the island. South of the island is the Singapore Strait. Mostly fringed by mangrove swamps, Singapore Island is largely low-lying, but has a central plateau bounded on the west by low hills. The climate is hot and humid and has no distinctive seasons.


The people of Singapore are predominantly Chinese with large Malay and Indian minorities. Principal religions are Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity. Malay, Tamil, Chinese, and English are spoken.


The capital of the republic, Singapore city, has a fine natural harbor and is southeast Asia's foremost commercial and shipping center, conducting a flourishing international trade as a free port. It trades in textiles, rubber, petroleum, timber, and tin and produces electrical goods, petroleum products, and textiles. Shipbuilding and repair are also important industries.


Singapore was founded as a trading port by Sir Thomas Raffles in 1819 and became part of the Straits Settlements in 1826. Occupied by the Japanese during World War II and self-governing since 1959, Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 but withdrew and has been independent since 1965, under the leadership of the strong prime minister (1959–90) Lee Kuan Yew. In 1997 the economy started to deteriorate due to a decline in export.


Additional topics

21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Serum to Singing