U.S. Department of State
Background Notes:  Singapore, December 1995
Bureau of Public Affairs

December 1995
Official Name: Republic of Singapore 
Area: 641 sq. km. (247 sq. mi.)  
Cities: Capital--Singapore (country is a city-state).  
Terrain: Lowland.  
Climate: Tropical. 
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 
Consul--David Donahue 
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 
Senior Minister.

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 


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:
Gopher: dosfan.lib.uic.edu 
URL: gopher://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ 
WWW: http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/dosfan.html
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.
Return to East Asia and the Pacific Background Notes Archive
Return to Background Notes Archive Homepage
Return to Electronic Research Collection Homepage