U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Singapore, December 1995
Bureau of Public Affairs
Official Name: Republic of Singapore
Area: 641 sq. km. (247 sq. mi.)
Cities: Capital--Singapore (country is a city-state).
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Singaporean(s).
Population (1994): 2.9 million (including resident foreigners).
Annual growth rate (1994): 2%.
Ethnic groups: Chinese 77%,
Malays 14%, Indians 7%.
Religions: Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu.
Languages: English, Mandarin and other Chinese dialects, Malay, Tamil.
Education: Years compulsory--none. Attendance--93%. Literacy--91%.
Health (1994): Infant mortality rate--4/1,000. Life expectancy--74 yrs.
male, 78 yrs. female.
Work force (1994): 1.6 million. Industry and commerce--66%. Services--
27%. Government--6%. Agriculture--0.3%.
Type: Parliamentary republic.
Constitution: June 3, 1959 (amended 1965 and 1991).
Independence: August 9, 1965.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state, four-year term); prime
minister (head of government). Legislative--unicameral 81-member
parliament (maximum five-year term). Judicial--High Court, Court of
Appeal, subordinate courts.
Political parties: People's Action Party (PAP), Singapore Democratic
Party (SDP), Workers' Party (WP), Singapore's Peoples Party (SPP).
Suffrage: Universal and compulsory at 21.
GDP (1994): $69 billion.
Annual growth rate (1994): 10%.
Per capita income (1994, current prices): $16,200.
Natural resources: None.
Agriculture: Products--poultry, orchids, vegetables, fruits.
Manufacturing (28% of real GDP): Types--electronic and electrical
products and components, petroleum products, machinery and metal
products, chemical and pharmaceutical products, transport equipment
(mainly shipbuilding and repairs), food and beverages, printing and
publishing, textiles and garments, plastic products, instrumentation
Trade (1994, excluding Indonesian trade, which is not reported by
Singaporean authorities): Exports--$96 billion: office and data
machines, machinery, petroleum products, telecommunications equipment,
chemicals, textiles and garments. Major markets--Malaysia 20%, U.S. 19%,
European Union (EU) 13%, Hong Kong 9%, and Japan 7%. Imports--$102
billion: crude oil and petroleum products, electrical, machinery,
manufactured goods, and textiles and garments. Major suppliers--Japan
22%, Malaysia 16%, and U.S. 15%.
The United States has maintained formal diplomatic relations with
Singapore since that country became independent from Britain in 1965.
Singapore's efforts to maintain economic growth and political stability
and its support for regional cooperation harmonize with U.S. policy in
the region and form a solid basis for amicable relations between the two
countries. The growth of U.S. investment in Singapore and the large
number of Americans living there enhance opportunities for contact
between Singapore and the United States. Many Singaporeans visit and
study in the United States.
The U.S. Government sponsors visitors from Singapore each year under the
International Visitor Program. The U.S. Government provides Fulbright
awards to enable selected American professors to teach or conduct
research at the National University of Singapore and the Institute of
Southeast Asian Studies. It awards scholarships to outstanding
Singaporean students for graduate studies at American universities and
to American students to study in Singapore. The U.S. Government also
occasionally sponsors cultural presentations in Singapore.
The East-West Center and private American organizations, such as the
Asia and Ford Foundations, also sponsor exchanges involving
The U.S. has a small military training assistance program with Singapore
but provides no other bilateral aid.
Singapore has consistently supported a strong U.S. military presence in
the Asia-Pacific region. In 1990, the U.S. and Singapore signed a
memorandum of understanding (MOU) which allows the U.S. access to
Singapore facilities at Paya Lebar Airport and the Sembawang port. Under
the MOU, a U.S. navy logistics unit was established in Singapore in
1992; U.S. fighter aircraft deploy periodically to Singapore for
exercises; and an increased number of U.S. military vessels visit
Trade and Investment
The U.S. is Singapore's second-largest market, absorbing 19% of
Singapore's exports. Singapore employs careful economic management and
skilled public relations to attract U.S.-based multinational
corporations. Despite its relatively high-cost operating environment,
Singapore continues to attract investment funds on a large scale. The
U.S. leads in foreign investment, accounting for 57% of new foreign
commitments (and 42% of all new commitments) to the manufacturing sector
in 1994. Japan was second with a 21% share, followed by the EU (20.6%).
Cumulative investment by American companies in Singapore is now about
$10.5 billion. The bulk of U.S. investment is in electronics
manufacturing, oil refining and storage, and the chemical industry.
Singapore's total trade in 1994 amounted to $198 billion; Singapore
imported $96 billion and exported $102 billion worth of merchandise.
Japan was Singapore's main import source (22% of the market), while
Malaysia was Singapore's largest market, absorbing 20% of Singapore's
exports. The U.S. was Singapore's second-largest export market at 19%.
Singapore's exports to the U.S. consist of computer disk drives,
computer parts and peripherals, integrated circuits, microcomputers,
telecommunications equipment, and chemical products.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Timothy A. Chorba
Deputy Chief of Mission--Emil Skodon
Economic/Political Counselor--Charles Jacobini
Political Officer--David Keegan
Economic Officer--Anne Galer Ryan
Public Affairs Counselor--Michael Anderson
Commercial Counselor--Steven Craven
Administrative Counselor--Joseph Hilliard, Jr.
Defense Attache--Capt. Jeremy C. Rosenberg, USN
The U.S. embassy in Singapore is located at 30 Hill Street, Singapore
0617 (tel. 65-338-0251, fax 65-338-4550).
According to the constitution, as amended in 1965, Singapore is a
republic with a parliamentary system of government. Political authority
rests with the prime minister and the cabinet. The prime minister is the
leader of the political party or coalition of parties having the
majority of seats in parliament. The president, who is chief of state,
previously exercised only ceremonial duties. As a result of 1991
constitutional changes, the president is now elected and exercises
expanded powers over legislative appointments, government budgetary
affairs, and internal security matters.
The unicameral parliament consists of 81 members elected on the basis of
universal adult suffrage. In the last general election, in August 1991,
the governing People's Action Party (PAP) won 77 of the 81 seats, while
opposition seats increased from one to four. The president may appoint
up to six members of parliament from among nominations by a special
select committee. These nominated members of parliament (NMPs) enjoy the
same privileges as MPs (members of parliament) but cannot vote on
constitutional matters or expenditures of funds. The maximum term of any
one parliament is five years. Voting has been compulsory since 1959.
Judicial power is vested in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The
High Court exercises original criminal and civil jurisdiction in serious
cases as well as appellate jurisdiction from subordinate courts. Its
chief justice, senior judge, and six judges are appointed by the
president. Appeals from the High Court are heard by the Court of Appeal.
The right of appeal to the Privy Council in London was abolished
effective April 1994.
The ruling party in Singapore, dominant since 1959, is the PAP, now
headed by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Goh succeeded Lee Kuan Yew, who
served as Singapore's Prime Minister from independence through 1990.
Since stepping down as Prime Minister, Lee has remained influential as
The PAP has held the overwhelming majority of seats in parliament since
1966, when the opposition Barisan Sosialis Party (Socialist Front)
resigned from parliament, leaving the PAP as the sole representative
party. In the general elections of 1968, 1972, and 1980, the PAP won all
of the seats in parliament. Workers' Party Secretary General J.B.
Jeyaretnam became the first opposition party MP in 15 years when he won
a 1981 by-election. Opposition parties gained a small number of seats in
the general elections of 1984 (two seats out of a total of 79), in 1988
(one seat of 81), and 1990 (four seats of 81). Meanwhile, the PAP share
of the popular vote declined from 78% in 1980 to 61% in 1991.
Principal Government Officials
President--Ong Teng Cheong
Prime Minister--Goh Chok Tong
Senior Minister--Lee Kuan Yew
Deputy Prime Minister--Lee Hsien Loong
Ambassador to the United Nations--Chew Tai Soo
Ambassador to the United States--S. R. Nathan
Singapore maintains an embassy in the United States at 3501
International Place NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-537-3100, fax
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
the subject country. They can be obtained by telephone at (202) 647-5225
or by fax at (202) 647-3000. To access the Consular Affairs Bulletin
Board by computer, dial (202) 647-9225, via a modem with standard
settings. Bureau of Consular Affairs' publications on obtaining
passports and planning a safe trip aboard are available from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-94-8280, price
$7.00) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC 20420, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
Upon their arrival in a country, U.S. citizens are encouraged to
register at the U.S. embassy (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials"
listing in this publication). This may help family members contact you
en route in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). Available by modem, the CABB
provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and helpful
information for travelers. Access at (202) 647-9225 is free of charge to
anyone with a personal computer, modem, telecommunications software, and
a telephone line.
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official weekly magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press
briefings; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc.
DOSFAN is accessible three ways on the Internet:
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a quarterly basis
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Priced at
$80 ($100 foreign), one-year subscriptions include four discs (MSDOS and
Macintosh compatible) and are available from the Superintendent of
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 37194, Pittsburgh,
PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.
Federal Bulletin Board (BBS). A broad range of foreign policy
information also is carried on the BBS, operated by the U.S. Government
Printing Office (GPO). By modem, dial (202) 512-1387. For general BBS
information, call (202) 512-1530.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
Background Notes Series -- Published by the United States Department of
State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication --
Washington, DC -- Series Editor: Marilyn J. Bremner
Singapore -- Department of State Publication 8240 -- December 1995
This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without
permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC 20402.
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