Singapore at a Glance

Singapore at a glance

A dynamic hub in the heart of South-East Asia, Singapore is a place where many cultures come together. 

Singapore’s population comprises Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians, but also includes many other smaller ethnic communities. Along the streets, in our schools and workplaces, it is also common to encounter people from many other countries and cultures. 

The seeds of our multicultural society were planted when the British set up a trading post here in 1819. Maritime trade between Europe and East Asia flourished after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Singapore, then a British colony, became a major port of call. 

Victoria Dock, Tanjong Pagar, in the 1890sWaves of traders, labourers and skilled workers from the region, as well as China, the Indian sub-continent and Europe, arrived in Singapore from the early 19th century. Most were transient migrants driven by hardship in their homelands to seek their fortunes here. Others were traders eager to tap the markets in the region. Many eventually settled down to become early pioneers in our communities.

During the Second World War, the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese in 1942. Hardship endured under the Japanese Occupation and the turmoil experienced after the war heightened people’s desire for Singapore to achieve self-governance. It was a difficult period marked by political strife and civil disorder. After a brief merger with Malaysia from 1963 to 1965, Singapore eventually became a sovereign, democratic nation on 9 August 1965. 

As a new nation, Singapore had to foster a common sense of identity and belonging among disparate communities and people, as it struggled to meet economic, defence and other social needs. Among other nation-building efforts, we instituted four official languages based on our society’s diverse mixture of cultures (namely, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English), wrote the National Pledge which school children still recite today, and built public housing or HDB flats to bring different communities together. 

Multicultural Singapore
After more than 50 years of nationhood, Singapore is a modern, multicultural society that continues to attract the world to our doorstep. Singaporeans also have opportunities to gain overseas experience, build networks and seek opportunities globally. There are now more than 210,000 Singaporeans living, working or studying overseas for extended periods of time.

Being an open and multicultural society has enriched our community and our lives in many ways, and helps us thrive in a global economy. Singapore attracts international trade, welcomes visitors from all over the world, and serves as an important financial and transport hub. Each week, 7,000 airplanes fly in and out of Changi Airport. Every two to three minutes, a ship arrives or departs from our ports. 

Within our society, different languages, heritage, festivals, religions, cuisine and arts co-exist. We celebrate diverse cultures, and cherish social harmony. 

All these make us a small island with a big heart that embraces the world.

Singapore’s System of Government

Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government based on the British Westminster model.

Singapore’s System of Government

The Head of State is the President, who is directly elected by the people every six years. 

The Executive comprises the Cabinet led by the Prime Minister and is responsible for government policies and the running of the country. 

The Legislature comprises the Parliament which enacts laws and checks on the governing party. Members of Parliament are voted in during General Elections which are typically held every five years.
The Judiciary, made up of the Supreme Court and State Courts, administers law independently.

Facts and Figures

Official name  Republic of Singapore
Date of independence 
9 Aug 1965
Land area 

719.2 sq km including offshore islands. 

With land reclamation, Singapore’s land area has grown by 24% compared to 50 years ago!
Population density  7,797 per sq km

Social Indicators

Total population 
5.61 million 
Singapore Residents 
3.93 million, of which 3.41 million are citizens and the remaining 0.52 million are Singapore Permanent Residents
Median age 
40 years old
Life expectancy at birth (2015) 
82.7 years 
Ethnic composition of resident population (2015) 
Among Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents, 
74.3% are Chinese, 
13.3% are Malays, 
9.1% are Indians and 
the remaining 3.2% are Eurasians and other communities 

Singapore has four official languages – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. 
English is the common language and Malay is the national language. 
Literacy rate (2015)  96.8% of residents aged 15 and above are literate 
Major religions  Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism  

Economic Indicators

Per capita GDP (2015) 
Gross monthly income (2015) 
Labour force 
3.6 million 
Labour force participation rate 
68% of our population aged 15 and above 
Unemployment rate 
Total tourist arrivals 
16.4 million 
Resident home ownership rate (2015) 
Nine in ten (90.8%) Singapore residents own their homes 
Resident households staying in HDB flats (2015)  80.1%       


1. Department of Statistics, Singapore
3. Singapore Land Authority
4. Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore
5. Singapore Tourism Board

Last updated on 06 April 2021