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Republic of Singapore
新加坡共和国
Republik Singapura
சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு
Flag of Singapore Coat of arms of Singapore
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Majulah Singapura
(English: "Onward, Singapore")
Anthem: " Majulah Singapura"
Location of Singapore
Capital Singapore1
1°17′ N 103°51′ E
Largest city Singapore1
Official language(s) Malay ( National), English, Mandarin Chinese, Tamil
Government
President
Prime Minister
Parliamentary republic
Sellapan Ramanathan
Lee Hsien Loong
Independence
- Unilateral declaration
(from the UK)
- Officially from UK
(merger with Malaysia)
- From Malaysia

August 31, 1963

September 16, 1963

August 9, 1965
Area
• Total

• Water (%)

692.7 km² ( 175th)
{{{areami²}}} mi²

1.444%
Population
• 2005 est.
• 2000 census

• Density

4,425,720 ( 118th)
4,017,700

6,389/km² ( 2nd)
{{{population_densitymi²}}}/mi²
GDP ( PPP)
• Total
• Per capita
2005 estimate
1 billion ( 55th)
,700 ( 22nd)
HDI ( 2003) 0.907 ( 25th) – high
Currency Singapore Dollar ( SGD)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
SST ( UTC+8)
Not observed ( UTC+8)
Internet TLD .sg
Calling code +652
1. Singapore is a city-state.
2. 02 when dialling from Malaysia
The Republic of Singapore ( Malay: Republik Singapura; Chinese: 新加坡共和国, Pinyin: Xīnjiāpō Gònghéguó, Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு, Ciŋkappūr Kudiyarasu), is an island city-state and the smallest country in Southeast Asia, situated on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of the Indonesian Riau Islands. Its coordinates are 1°17.583′N 103°51.333′E, just 137 km north of the Equator. The name Singapore was derived from the Malay word singa (lion), which itself is derived from the Sanskrit word सिंह siMha of the same meaning, and the Sanskrit word पुर pura (city) . Hence, Singapore is also known as the Lion City. The naming is attributed to a minor prince named Sang Nila Utama, who according to lore, saw a lion as the first living creature on the island and decided to name it Singapura as a result.Singapore developed from a small Malay fishing village to become a multicultural, major global city with cosmopolitan ideals. It has attracted controversy for some policies it has taken to achieve its development since independence in 1965. Throughout recorded history, it has been possessed by multiple countries and empires and changed hands many times, including being in the possession of the Majapahit Kingdom, Melaka and the Sultanate of Johore in ancient history, the British Empire in the colonial era, Japanese Empire in World War II and Malaysia after merger, until its independence. After independence, rapid government-led industrialisation and open policies inviting foreign investments stimulated rapid economic growth; consequently Singapore is now considered a developed nation.Presently, Singapore can be politically analysed as a democratic socialist country that has adopted a welfare system, although de facto it has a dominant-party system. The Government perceives Singapore as multiracial, and champions multiracialism as an ideal. The majority of the population is ethnic Chinese, with Malays, ethnic Indians and Eurasians constituting significant minorities. Singapore has few natural resources, so its economy relies on exports of electronics and manufacturing from her port. More than 90% of Singapore's population live in housing estates constructed by the Housing Development Board and nearly half utilise the public transport system daily. As a result of public transport and environmental initiatives by government ministries, Singapore's pollution is mostly isolated from heavy industry located offshore in Jurong Island.

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Contents

History
Politics and government
Geography
Economy
Culture
Tourism
Transport
Demographics



History - Contents

The first records of Singapore's existence are in Chinese texts from the 3rd century. The island was an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire and originally bore the Javanese name Temasek. Temasek rose to become a significant trading city, but subsequently declined. There are few remnants of old Temasek in Singapore other than archaeological evidence.Between 16th and early 19th century, Singapore was a part of the Sultanate of Johore. During the Malay-Portugal wars in 1617, Singapore was set ablaze by Portuguese troops.
Statue of Thomas Stamford Raffles by Thomas Woolner, erected at the spot where he first landed at Singapore. He is recognised as the founder of modern Singapore.
Statue of Thomas Stamford Raffles by Thomas Woolner, erected at the spot where he first landed at Singapore. He is recognised as the founder of modern Singapore.
In 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, a British East India Company official, made a treaty with the Sultan of Johore and established Singapore as a trading post and settlement, and saw instant growth and immigration from various ethnic groups. Singapore was later made a crown colony by Britain in 1867. After a series of territorial expansions, the British Empire soon raised it as an entrepot town due to its strategic location along the busy shipping routes connecting Europe to China.During World War II, Japanese forces invaded Malaya and the surrounding region in the Battle of Malaya, culminating in the Battle of Singapore. The British were unprepared and swiftly defeated, despite having superior numbers of troops. They surrendered to the Japanese on February 15, 1942. The Japanese renamed Singapore as Syonan-to ("Light of the South") and occupied it until the Japanese defeat September 1945. In 1959, Singapore became a self-governing state with Yusof Ishak as its first head of state and Lee Kuan Yew from the People's Action Party (PAP) as its first Prime Minister following the 1959 elections. After a national referendum in 1962, Singapore was admitted into the Federation of Malaysia along with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak as a state with autonomous powers in September 1963. After heated ideological conflict developed between the state government formed by PAP and the Federal government in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore was expelled from the federation on August 7, 1965. It gained official sovereignty two days later on August 9, 1965 with Malaysia the first country to recognise it as an independent nation (the date became Singapore's National Day). Singapore's National Days are celebrated with annual parades and other festivities.
Shenton Way around 1970, the period of time where Singapore underwent immense economic development under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew
Shenton Way around 1970, the period of time where Singapore underwent immense economic development under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew
Parliament House
Parliament House
The fledgling nation had to struggle for self-sufficiency, and faced problems including mass unemployment, housing shortages and lack of land and natural resources (such as oil). During Lee Kuan Yew's term as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, his administration curbed unemployment, raised the standard of living, developed Singapore's economic infrastructure and overcame problems such as lack of housing, social stability and an independent national defence. This elevated Singapore into developing nation and subsequently to developed status.On 26 November 1990 Goh Chok Tong became prime minister. Under his tenure the country tackled the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the SARS outbreak in 2003, and terrorist threats posed by the Jemaah Islamiah (JI). Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the third prime minister on 12 August 2004 after securing the confidence of a majority of Parliament, which is still dominated by the PAP.


Politics and government - Contents

Singapore is a republic with a Westminster system of a unicameral parliamentary government, with the bulk of the executive powers resting in the hands of a cabinet of ministers led by a prime minister. The office of the president was, historically, a ceremonial one as head of state, but the Constitution was amended in 1991 to create the position of a popularly elected president and also to grant the president veto powers in a few key decisions such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of key judiciary positions. The legislative branch of government is the Parliament.Politics of Singapore have been dominated by the People's Action Party (PAP) since its independence in 1965. Critics have called Singapore a de facto one party state and have accused the PAP of taking harsh actions against opposition parties to impede their success, including gerrymandering and the filing of civil suits against the opposition for libel or slander. Critics claim that Singaporean courts have favoured the government and the PAP in these lawsuits, although there have been a few cases in which the opposition won. They consider the form of government in Singapore to be closer to authoritarianism rather than true democracy, and could be considered an illiberal democracy or procedural democracy.The media arm of the Government applies a monopolistic grip on the local mainstream media, often subjecting it to stringent censorship. As a result, opposition political parties in Singapore usually do not get any mention or coverage. Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore 140th out of 167 countries in its 2005 Worldwide Press Freedom Index. [1]Despite these political issues, Singapore has what its Government considers to be a highly successful and transparent market economy. The PAP's policies contain some aspects of socialism, including a large scale public housing programme, a public education system, and the dominance of government-controlled companies in the local economy. Although dominant in its activities, the government has a clean, corruption-free image, and has consistently been rated as the least-corrupt country in Asia and amongst the top ten cleanest in the world by Transparency International since its first annual survey conducted in 1995.Although Singapore's laws are inherited from British and British Indian laws, the PAP has also consistently rejected wholesale Western democratic values, with former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew citing incompatibilities with " Asian values." Singapore's position is that there should not be a "one-size-fits-all" solution to a democracy. Most recently, the PAP has relaxed some of its socially conservative policies and encouraged entrepreneurship.Singapore enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in the world because of its strict laws, which has often been cited by foreign companies as one of the reasons for investing in Singapore. As the tiny city-state is a multi-racial society, materials that may breed ill-will among its population or cause religious disharmony are not tolerated, even on the Internet. For example, in September 2005, three bloggers were charged with sedition for posting racist remarks targeting minorities; after they admitted their guilt, the punishments handed down ranged from community service and fines to the maximum imprisonment of a month.Some offences can lead to heavy fines or caning; laws provide for capital punishment in Singapore in cases of first-degree murder and drug trafficking. According to an Amnesty International report, 400 people were hanged between 1991 and 2004, which the report claimed is "possibly the highest execution rate in the world" per capita. The Singapore Government responded to AI's report in January 2004 on its Home Affairs website [2] and reasserted capital punishment as a sovereign right for the most serious crimes, a stance in common with democracies like Japan [3] and the United States.


Geography - Contents

Singapore is a diamond-shaped island separated from the Peninsular Malaysia by the Tebrau Straits. (details)
Singapore is a diamond-shaped island separated from the Peninsular Malaysia by the Tebrau Straits. ( details)
Singapore is a diamond-shaped island with surrounding smaller islands. There are two connections from Singapore to the Malaysian state of Johor — a man-made causeway (known as the Causeway) to the north, crossing the Tebrau Straits, and Tuas Second Link (called Linkedua Expressway in Malaysia), a bridge in the western part of Singapore that connects to Johor. Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest of Singapore's many smaller islands. The highest point of Singapore is Bukit Timah Hill, with a height of 166 m (538 feet).
Singapore Botanic Gardens, a 52 hectare botanical garden in Singapore that includes the National Orchid Garden which has a collection of more than 3000 species of orchids
Singapore Botanic Gardens, a 52 hectare botanical garden in Singapore that includes the National Orchid Garden which has a collection of more than 3000 species of orchids
The urban area used to be concentrated on the southern part of Singapore around the mouth of the Singapore River, while the rest of the land was tropical rain forest or used for agriculture. Since the 1960s, the government has constructed new towns in outlying areas, resulting in an entirely built-up and urban landscape with a few exceptions, such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. In addition, Singapore has reclaimed land with earth obtained from its own hills, the seabed and neighbouring countries. As a result, Singapore's land area grew from 581.5 km² in the 1960s to 697.2 km² today, and may grow by another 100 km² by 2030.Without natural freshwater rivers and lakes, the primary domestic source of water in Singapore is rainfall, collected in reservoirs or catchment areas. Rainfall supplies approximately 50% of Singapore's water; the remainder is imported from Malaysia or obtained from recycled water facilities (called NEWater) and desalination plants. More NEWater and desalination plants are being built or proposed to reduce reliance on foreign supply.Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate with no distinct seasons, under the Köppen climate classification. Its climate is characterised by uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity and abundant rainfall. Temperatures range from 22ºC to 34ºC. On average, the relative humidity is around 90 % in the morning and 60 % in the afternoon. During prolonged heavy rain, relative humidity often reaches 100 %. The lowest and highest temperature recorded in its maritime history is 19.4ºC and 37.8ºC respectively.


Economy - Contents

The Central Area is the central business district and hub of economic transactions in Singapore, and is also the home of the Singapore Exchange, Asia-Pacific's first demutualised and integrated securities and derivatives exchange.
The Central Area is the central business district and hub of economic transactions in Singapore, and is also the home of the Singapore Exchange, Asia-Pacific's first demutualised and integrated securities and derivatives exchange.
Singapore has a very highly developed market-based economy, which allows the state to a play major role in Asia. It has one of the highest per capita gross domestic products in the world and is one of the " East Asian Tigers". Domestic demand is relatively low, and the economy depends heavily on exports produced from refining imported goods in a form of extended entrepot trade. This is especially true in electronics and manufacturing.Singapore was hit hard in 2001 by the global recession and the slump in the technology sector, which caused the GDP that year to contract by 2.2 %. The Economic Review Committee (ERC), set up in December 2001, made key recommendations in remaking Singapore's economy.Singapore introduced the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on April 1, 1994, starting at 3 %. This has substantially increased government revenue as well assisted in maintaining the stability of the government's finances to spend on reforming the economy into more services and value added goods instead of relying on electronics manufacturing. The taxable GST was increased to 4 % in 2003 and to 5 % in 2004.The economy has since recovered from the recessions in response to improvements in the world economy, and grew by 6.4% in 2005. In the longer term the government hopes to establish a new growth path that will be less vulnerable to the external business cycle than the current export-led model, but is unlikely to abandon efforts to establish Singapore as Southeast Asia's financial and high-tech hub. The per capita GDP in 2005 is US,228. Recently, in January 2006, the unemployment rate was 2.5 %. According to the Budget 2006 speech delivered by Finance Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 17 February 2006, the economy is expected to grow by 4-6% in the year 2006.


Culture - Contents

A water taxi in Singapore
A water taxi in Singapore
Singapore is a small and relatively modern amalgam of an indigenous Malay population with a majority of third generation Chinese as well as Indian and Arab immigrants. There is little intermarriage; it is most common between the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups. There seems to be little culture that is specifically Singaporean. However, there exists a Eurasian community and a community of Peranakan or "Straits Chinese," of mixed Chinese and Malay descent.Singapore has also achieved a significant degree of cultural diffusion with its unique combination of these ethnic groups, and has given Singapore a rich mixture of diversity for its young age. One of the prime examples is in Singapore's cuisine, often a cultural attraction for tourists.The English used is primarily British English, with some American English influences. The local colloquial dialect of English is known formally as Singapore Colloquial English, although it is more commonly called " Singlish". It has many creole-like characteristics, having incorporated much vocabulary and grammar from various Chinese, Malay, and Indian languages. Singlish is basically identical to Manglish (the English dialect of Malaysia), and is the usual language on the streets, but is frowned upon in official contexts. English use among the population generally became more widespread after the implementation of English as a first language medium in the Singapore education system, and English is the most common language in Singapore literature.
Trishaws in Singapore
Trishaws in Singapore
Singapore also has several ethnic neighbourhoods, including Little India and Chinatown, which were formed under the Raffles Plan to segregate the new immigrants into ethnic ghettoes. Although the population is no longer segregated, these ethnic neighbourhoods retain selective elements of their specific culture. The usage of such neighbourhoods is mostly commercial or for a cottage industry specific to the culture of its ethnic neighbourhood, and does not play a big part in housing the population, although it is used for that purpose. Hence, these neighbourhoods have a diverse patronage who probably wish to either eat or buy something specific to that culture.In other parts of the country, such segregation is discouraged by government policy. The policies of the Housing Development Board ( HDB) are designed to ensure a mix of all races within each housing district. Their effect can be observed in all parts of the country; for example a store devoted to selling Malay food might be right next to stores selling Chinese or Indian goods. This, in return, is thought by some to foster social cohesion and national loyalty, crucial for sustaining Singapore's growth. There is an extremely strong emphasis on racial harmony and relevant historical events, such as the 1964 Race Riots.Religious tolerance has been strongly encouraged since the British colonised Singapore. The Sri Mariamman Temple, a South Indian Hindu temple, was declared a national monument in the 1980s). The Masjid Jamae Mosque, which served Chulia Muslims from India's Coromandel Coast, is situated along South Bridge Road, which is an old major road that runs through Chinatown. Among other religious landmarks is the Church of Gregory the Illuminator, that was built in 1836, making it one of the oldest religious buildings in Singapore. It has been preserved to the present day, and Orthodox services continue to be held in it. Although most religions are tolerated, some unorthodox groups are banned by the government.Male homosexual intercourse is illegal in Singapore. This has been the subject of much debate both inside and outside the country, and there is no legislative proposal to alter this. Under the Societies Act, the government has not allowed any gay rights group to form and openly address the issue. It has considered homosexuality to be taboo, claiming that the population is predominantly conservative. This has resulted in a number of alternative communities forming on the Internet, such as PLU (People Like Us), Sambal, Fridae, Red Queen, and others. Heterosexual oral sex and anal sex are also illegal in Singapore, unless performed as a precursor to vaginal intercourse.Since the late 1990s, the government has been striving to promote Singapore as a centre for arts and culture, including theatre and music. This fits in with Singapore's status as a cosmopolitan and multi-racial society, often being called the "gateway between the East and West". The highlight of this plan is the Esplanade - "Theatres on the Bay", a centre for performing arts that opened in 2003. The Esplanade is also informally known as "The Durian", due to its resemblance to the pungent fruit. To attract more tourists, the government passed a bill on 17 April 2005 to legalise gambling. It has decided to build two "Integrated Resorts" (IRs), each with a casino component built-in, at Marina South and Sentosa respectively. The decisions to legalise gambling and to build the resorts came only after great controversy and debate. Bans on bar-top dancing and bungee jumping were also lifted despite their lukewarm demand.


Tourism - Contents

The Merlion is one of the best-known tourist icons of Singapore
The Merlion is one of the best-known tourist icons of Singapore
The Singapore Visitors Centre is located in the centre of Orchard Road
The Singapore Visitors Centre is located in the centre of Orchard Road
Singapore as a travel destination has become noted among many international travellers, making tourism one of its largest industries. In 2005, a total of 9.05 million tourists visited Singapore. Much of its attraction can be attributed to its cultural diversity that reflects almost 200 years of colonial history as well as immigrant cultures from Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian and Arab ethnicities. Singapore's cuisine is the most general attraction for tourists; it is also touted by the Singapore Tourist Board as the business hub of Southeast Asia. The Orchard Road district, which is dominated by multi-storey shopping centres and hotels, can be considered the centre of tourism in Singapore.Other popular tourist attractions include the Singapore Zoo and its Night Safari, which allows people to explore Asian, African and American habitats at night without any visible barriers between guests and the wild animals. The Singapore Zoo has embraced the 'open zoo' concept whereby animals are kept in enclosures, separated from visitors by hidden dry or wet moats, instead of caging the animals. Jurong Bird Park is another zoological garden centred around birds, which is dedicated towards exposing the public to as much species and varieties of birds from around the world as possible, including a flock of one thousand flamingos. The tourist island of Sentosa, located in the south of Singapore, consists of about 20-30 landmarks, such as Fort Siloso, which was built as a fortress to defend against the Japanese during World War II. Guns from the World War II era can be seen at Fort Siloso, from a mini-sized to a 16-pound (7 kg) gun. Recently, the island has built the Carlsberg Sky Tower, which allows visitors to view the whole of Sentosa, as well as the Sentosa Luge, a small one- or two-person sled on which one sleighs supine and feet-first. Steering is done by shifting the weight or pulling straps attached to the sled's runners. Singapore will have two integrated resorts with casinos in 2009, one at Marina Bayfront and the other at Sentosa which the government announced during a parliament session on April 18, 2005.


Transport - Contents

A C751B train at Eunos MRT Station on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, one of three heavy rail passenger transport lines in Singapore.
A C751B train at Eunos MRT Station on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, one of three heavy rail passenger transport lines in Singapore.
Singapore's Changi International Airport is one of the largest aviation facilities in Asia, serving 179 cities in 57 countries.
Singapore's Changi International Airport is one of the largest aviation facilities in Asia, serving 179 cities in 57 countries.
Singapore is a major hub of transportation in Asia, as it lies strategically on major trade routes on both land, sea and air. Its history has been closely tied to the growth of its transportation industry since the establishment of its port. The transportation industry comprises over 10% of gross domestic product despite an increasingly diversified economy.The Port of Singapore, managed by port operators PSA International and Jurong Port, is the world's busiest port in terms of shipping tonnage handled with 1.15 billion gross tons handled in the year 2005. It is also the world's second busiest in terms of cargo tonnage, with 423 million tons handled and second only to Shanghai. Singapore was ranked first globally in 2005 in terms of containerised traffic, with 23.2 million Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled, and is also the world's busiest hub for transhipment traffic and the world's biggest ship refuelling hub with 25 million tonnes of bunker (marine fuel oil) sold in 2005.Singapore is a major aviation hub and is an important stopover point for the " Kangaroo route" between Australasia and Europe. Singapore Changi Airport has a network of 81 airlines connecting Singapore to 179 cities in 57 countries (2005). It is one of the top five airports in Asia in terms of passengers handled, with 30 million passengers passing through in 2004. It has been consistently rated as one of the best international airports by numerous international travel magazines. It was rated as the only 5 star airport in the world by Skytrax, defeating its main rival, Hong Kong International Airport. .The national carrier Singapore Airlines has also received several accolades internationally and is renowned for the image of the "Singapore Girl", where air stewardesses are clad in traditional dress (Sarong Kebaya) while serving passengers. It will also be the first airline in the world to fly the new Airbus A380 commercially. In anticipation of rising demand in both the regular and low-cost sectors, a third passenger terminal is under construction and a low-cost terminal which will be operational on March 26, 2006. These will increase the airport's total capacity to 66.7 million passengers annually by 2008.The backbone of domestic transport infrastructure is its its road transport system, which covers most of the island. These roads are overseen by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), which also constructs expressways of Singapore. These expressways form the larger transport arteries between the distinct towns and regional centres as laid out in Singapore's urban planning and give vehicles the ability to travel overland faster. Private transport has been dominant since independence, and its use still continues to grow annually. The increasing normality of using private transportation has led to the rise of environmental issues such as air pollution and reliance of fuel, as well as concerns over traffic congestion. Consequently, the Land Transport Authority began a series of campaign to discourage excessive use of private transport, such as by refining the public transport system in Singapore. Bus transport in Singapore utilises buses that use the existing road and expressway system to carry many passengers overland with more efficiency than common private transport. Vehicles are also subject to toll by an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system during hours of heavy road traffic to regulate road usage. The government subsequently went into the extent of liberalising the hired vehicle market to inject more independent public taxi operators, to induce more market competition and divert the masses from using private transport.In the late- 1970s, it was concluded in parliamentary debates that a bus system would be insufficient to resolve transport problems associated with an over-reliance on private transport. The Provisional Mass Rapid Transit Authority then contracted construction of the heavy rail passenger Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, which establishes a metro system between parts of Singapore. Currently, three lines are complete, with one under construction and several others in planning stages. The Light Rapid Transit (LRT) is a light rail system that is linked into the MRT and covers several expanses of housing estates. The EZ-Link system allows contactless smartcards to be used as stored value tickets for use in the public transport systems, and allows convenient transfer between individual components of Singapore's public transport system.Recently, there have been complaints of rising public transport fares but the government asserts that this is due to the increase in global oil prices. Currently, fares are capped at .90 (~US.10) per ride. Concerns about terrorism by the government of Singapore has also led them to take precautionary measures such as increasing security in public transport stations and interchanges. Exercise NorthStar V was an exercise that simulated a terrorist attack and tested the ability of local authorities to handle the aftermath of such a threat.


Demographics - Contents

Built in 1843, the Sri Mariamman Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Singapore. It is also one of the many religious buildings marked as national monuments for their historical value.
Built in 1843, the Sri Mariamman Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Singapore. It is also one of the many religious buildings marked as national monuments for their historical value.
Singapore is the second most densely populated independent country in the world. Eighty-four percent of Singaporeans live in public housing provided by the Housing and Development Board (HDB).Singapore's population, though small at 4.42 million as of July 2005, is relatively diverse compared to most other countries, although neighbour Malaysia also features a multiracial population. The Chinese, who have constituted the majority of the island population since the colonial era, account for 76.8 % of Singaporeans. Malays, who are the indigenous native group of the country, constitute 13.9 %, though this number includes many Malay ethnic groups from other parts of the Malay archipelago including the Javanese, Bugis, Baweans and Minangkabau. Indians are the third largest ethnic group at 7.9 %, consisting of several groups— Tamils, who form the largest Indian group, and others such as Malayalees, Punjabis and Bengalis. The rest are made up of smaller groups such as Arabs, Jews, Thais, Japanese, and the Eurasian community.Singapore is a multi-religious country, due mainly to its location on one of the world's major transportation routes. More than 40 % of Singaporeans profess that they adhere to Buddhism. This large percentage may be due to a lack of distinction between Taoism and Buddhism; Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and ancestral worship are merged into one religion by most of the Chinese population. Most Muslims are Malay. Christianity in Singapore consists of Roman Catholicism and various Protestant denominations, and comprises approximately 14% of the population. Other religions include Sikhism and Hinduism followed mainly by those of Indian descent.The Singapore Government has been careful to maintain ethnic harmony after racial riots erupted in the 1960s. Racial harmony has been emphasized in all aspects of society, including education, military and housing. So far the policy has been largely successful, and there have been few signs of ethnic tension since the early 1970s. Current issues include the ban on wearing the Islamic headscarf in public schools. In October 2005, a man was sentenced to one month in jail for making racist comments on an online blog.The national language of Singapore is Malay for historical reasons, and it is used in the national anthem. The official languages are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. English has been promoted as the country's language of administration since independence, and it is spoken by the majority of the population, although with concurrent Speak Mandarin Campaigns, most public signs, advertising and print media tend to be in English and Chinese only.To promote Chinese culture and the use of Mandarin among the Chinese, the government has introduced a Speak Mandarin Campaign (SMC). Historically, the Chinese immigrants often did not understand each other, having migrated from different parts of China, and were linguistically isolated into "dialects" such as Hokkien, Cantonese, Hokchia, Teochew, Hakka, Hokchiu and Hainanese. Malay was thus often used at that time as a common language. However, during the Speak Mandarin campaign, Mandarin became a unifying factor at the cost of usage of Malay among the younger generation. Recently, there has been a "Speak Bahasa Melayu" campaign.
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