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This 63 island State is situated in South-East Asia, with the main island linked by a bridge to the southern tip of Malaysia. A former British colony and subsequent member of the Malaysian federation, Singapore has since become a fully independent parliamentary republic and its prosperity has meant that it serves as the region’s financial centre. Although the standard of living is high, it is known for the conservatism of its leaders as well as its strict social controls and violations of civil and political rights, including extensive censorship of the media. Corporal punishment and life imprisonment for children remain serious children’s rights concerns.
Singapore is formed of 63 islands located off the southern tip of Malaysia in south-east Asia. The capital of Singapore is the city of Singapore.
Population and language
The population of Singapore is 5.26 million and is composed of around 75 per cent Chinese, large communities of Malays and Indians, with the rest made up of foreign workers. Malay is the national language, but English is widely spoken along with Mandarin and Tamil, as well as a local slang known as 'Singlish'!
Singapore was a British colony until 1959 and also spent a brief spell under Japanese rule. In 1963, it entered into the Malaysian federation before achieving full independence in 1965. Today, Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster system, however, in practice, politicians have regularly used defamation laws to stifle the opposition.
In economic terms, Singapore is a high income country. Singapore's main exports are computer equipment, machinery, rubber products and petroleum products. Singapore is a member of the Commonwealth and one of the five founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations.
As a regional financial centre and one of the world's busiest ports, it is known as one of the four 'Asian Tigers' along with South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which achieved rapid industrialisation and high growth rates between the 1960s and 1980s.
Human rights and children's rights
While Singapore's human development indicators are relatively high, civil and political rights are restricted. Freedom in the World 2010 ranked Singapore five out of seven for political freedom, and four out of seven for civil liberties (where one is the most free), with an overall ranking of "partly free". In April 2009, Singapore's legislature passed a measure that would require police permission for public assemblies of all sizes, removing a previous threshold of five or more people, according to Freedom House.Censorship of the media is also extensive, with Singapore rated 137 on the Press Freedom Index (with one being the most free). The Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that cooperation with civil society at the policy-making level was limited, in its latest Concluding Observations. The country continues to apply the death penalty, mainly for drug trafficking. It has one of the highest execution rates in the world according to Amnesty International, but the government does not release statistics. Persons who commit an offence under the age of 18 cannot be sentenced to capital punishment but may be sentenced to corporal punishment and life imprisonment.
- Asian Human Rights Commission
- BBC country profile
- Reporters without Borders
- Concluding Observations
- Freedom in the World 2010