At the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula where the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean meet,
140 kilometres north of the equator lies a small island with an approximate area of 573 square
kilometers, 42 kilometres long and 23 kilometres across its widest points.
We call this island, Singapore. Surrounding this island are 50 smaller islands which are also
part of Singapore, bringing the total land area of Singapore to approximately 639 square
Historically, the city-state was known as Temasek, or sea town. The name
Singapore, which means "lion city" in Sanskrit, came about around the 13th century.
On January 29th, 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles, an official of
the British East India Company, and his assistant, Major William Farquhar landed at Singapore
to set up a trading post. Raffles sought a base in the south of the Malay Peninsula, to attract
trade. Singapore at that time belonged to the Johor sultanate. A treaty was later signed
allowing the British to build a settlement on the main island of Singapore. Sir Stamford
Raffles is therefore thought of as the founder of modern-day Singapore.
On August 9th, 1965, Singapore officially became an independent member of the
Commonwealth of Nations.
Today, the country has a total population of around 3.7 million people, and is
therefore considered one of the densest populated countries in the world. Most of the
Singaporeans are descendants of migrants from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India who made
Singapore their home in the 19th and 20th century. With more than three
quarters of the population Chinese, the Chinese are therefore the dominant ethnic group in the
country, followed by the Malays which make up about 12 per cent, and the Indians 8 per cent.
Although for historical reasons, Malay is Singapore’s national language, English, Chinese, and
Tamil, together with Malay are recognized nationally as official languages. The main language
used in schools and colleges, and the government is English, as the government in its early
days realized the importance of English in world commerce and industry.
Modern-day Singapore has many accolades it can be proud of.
To name but a few:
We hope you have gained an insight to Singapore. Should you wish to know more about our country,
The Government of Singapore
homepage will be able to provide you with additional information.