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Singapore-Decline of British Military Influence, 1945-75

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Singapore Index

British military influence in Singapore was reestablished at the end of World War II and declined at a slower pace than London's political influence. Singapore was made the headquarters for British forces stationed in the East Asia. The local population's resentment of British rule was tempered by the magnitude of the social and economic problems remaining after the Japanese occupation. Britain's military expenditures provided jobs and promoted support for its political objectives in the region. From 1948 to 1960, Malaya and Singapore were under emergency rule as a result of the threat posed by the Communist Party of Malaya ( CPM--see Glossary). Throughout this period, the majority of Singapore's political and business leaders were strong supporters of the British military presence. As Singapore moved from being a crown colony, to becoming a state in the Federation of Malaysia, and finally to independence in 1965, the British armed forces continued to be viewed as the protector of Singapore's democratic system of government and an integral part of the island's economy.

By 1962 the British were questioning the strategic necessity and political wisdom of stationing forces in Singapore and Malaya. At that time London was spending about US$450 million annually to maintain four infantry battalions, several squadrons of fighter aircraft, and the largest British naval base outside the British Isles, even though Southeast Asia accounted for less than 5 percent of Britain's foreign commerce.

In January 1968, the British government informed Prime Minister Lee that all British forces would be withdrawn from the country within three years. By then Singapore already had begun to organize its army and to plan for the establishment of an air force and navy. The British left behind a large military infrastructure and trained personnel of the newly formed Air Defence and Maritime commands. London formally ended all responsibility for Singapore's defense in 1972 when it turned over control of the Bukit Gombak radar station to Singapore.

Data as of December 1989

BackgroundSingapore was founded as a British trading colony in 1819. It joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 but separated two years later and became independent. Singapore subsequently became one of the world's most prosperous countries with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world's busiest in terms of tonnage handled) and with per capita GDP equal to that of the leading nations of Western Europe.
LocationSoutheastern Asia, islands between Malaysia and Indonesia
Area(sq km)total: 697 sq km
land: 687 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Geographic coordinates1 22 N, 103 48 E
Land boundaries(km)0 km

Coastline(km)193 km

Climatetropical; hot, humid, rainy; two distinct monsoon seasons - Northeastern monsoon (December to March) and Southwestern monsoon (June to September); inter-monsoon - frequent afternoon and early evening thunderstorms

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Singapore Strait 0 m
highest point: Bukit Timah 166 m
Natural resourcesfish, deepwater ports
Land use(%)arable land: 1.47%
permanent crops: 1.47%
other: 97.06% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)NA
Total renewable water resources(cu km)0.6 cu km (1975)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 0.19 cu km/yr (45%/51%/4%)
per capita: 44 cu m/yr (1975)
Natural hazardsNA
Environment - current issuesindustrial pollution; limited natural fresh water resources; limited land availability presents waste disposal problems; seasonal smoke/haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notefocal point for Southeast Asian sea routes
Population4,657,542 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 14.4% (male 348,382/female 324,050)
15-64 years: 76.7% (male 1,737,972/female 1,833,415)
65 years and over: 8.9% (male 184,393/female 229,330) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 39 years
male: 38.5 years
female: 39.4 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)0.998% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)8.82 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)4.66 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)5.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 100% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 2.31 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 2.51 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 81.98 years
male: 79.37 years
female: 84.78 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)1.09 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Singaporean(s)
adjective: Singapore
Ethnic groups(%)Chinese 76.8%, Malay 13.9%, Indian 7.9%, other 1.4% (2000 census)

Religions(%)Buddhist 42.5%, Muslim 14.9%, Taoist 8.5%, Hindu 4%, Catholic 4.8%, other Christian 9.8%, other 0.7%, none 14.8% (2000 census)
Languages(%)Mandarin 35%, English 23%, Malay 14.1%, Hokkien 11.4%, Cantonese 5.7%, Teochew 4.9%, Tamil 3.2%, other Chinese dialects 1.8%, other 0.9% (2000 census)

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Singapore
conventional short form: Singapore
local long form: Republic of Singapore
local short form: Singapore
Government typeparliamentary republic
Capitalname: Singapore
geographic coordinates: 1 17 N, 103 51 E
time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisionsnone
Constitution3 June 1959; amended 1965 (based on pre-independence State of Singapore Constitution)

Legal systembased on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage21 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branchchief of state: President S R NATHAN (since 1 September 1999)
note: uses S R NATHAN but his full name and the one used in formal communications is Sellapan RAMANATHAN
head of government: Prime Minister LEE Hsien Loong (since 12 August 2004); Senior Minister GOH Chok Tong (since 12 August 2004); Senior Minister Shunmugam JAYAKUMAR (since 1 April 2009); Minister Mentor LEE Kuan Yew (since 12 August 2004); Deputy Prime Minister TEO Chee Huan (since 1 April 2009) and Deputy Prime Minister WONG Kan Seng (since 1 September 2005)
cabinet: appointed by president, responsible to parliament
elections: president elected by popular vote for six-year term; appointed on 17 August 2005 (next election to be held by August 2011); following legislative elections, leader of majority party or leader of majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by president; deputy prime ministers appointed by president
election results: Sellapan Rama (S R) NATHAN appointed president in August 2005 after Presidential Elections Committee disqualified three other would-be candidates; scheduled election not held
Legislative branchunicameral Parliament (84 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms); note - in addition, there are up to nine nominated members; up to three losing opposition candidates who came closest to winning seats may be appointed as "nonconstituency" members
elections: last held on 6 May 2006 (next to be held by 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - PAP 66.6%, WP 16.3%, SDA 13%, SDP 4.1%; seats by party - PAP 82, WP 1, SDA 1

Judicial branchSupreme Court (chief justice is appointed by the president with the advice of the prime minister, other judges are appointed by the president with the advice of the chief justice); Court of Appeals

Political pressure groups and leadersnone
Flag descriptiontwo equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white; near the hoist side of the red band, there is a vertical, white crescent (closed portion is toward the hoist side) partially enclosing five white five-pointed stars arranged in a circle

Economy - overviewSingapore has a highly developed and successful free-market economy. It enjoys a remarkably open and corruption-free environment, stable prices, and a per capita GDP higher than that of most developed countries. The economy depends heavily on exports, particularly in consumer electronics, information technology products, pharmaceuticals, and on a growing service sector. Real GDP growth averaged 7% between 2004 and 2007, but dropped to 1.1% in 2008 as a result of the global financial crisis. The economy contracted in the last three quarters of 2008. Prime Minister LEE and other senior officials have dampened expectations for a quick rebound in 2009. Over the longer term, the government hopes to establish a new growth path that will be less vulnerable to global demand cycles especially for information technology products. It has attracted major investments in pharmaceuticals and medical technology production and will continue efforts to establish Singapore as Southeast Asia's financial and high-tech hub.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$237.9 billion (2008 est.)
$235.3 billion (2007 est.)
$218.3 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$181.9 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)1.1% (2008 est.)
7.8% (2007 est.)
8.4% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$51,600 (2008 est.)
$51,700 (2007 est.)
$48,600 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 0%
industry: 27.8%
services: 72.2% (2008 est.)
Labor force2.94 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture 0%, industry 22.6%, services 77.4% (2007)
Unemployment rate(%)2.2% (2008 est.)
2.1% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 4.4%
highest 10%: 23.2% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index48.1 (2008)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)28.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $29.25 billion
expenditures: $26.48 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)6.5% (2008 est.)
2.1% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$52.57 billion (31 December 2008)
$44.4 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$179 billion (31 December 2008)
$162.2 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$143.6 billion (31 December 2008)
$129.2 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$268.6 billion (31 December 2008)
$353.5 billion (31 December 2007)
$276.3 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$0 (2007)

Public debt(% of GDP)99.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
102.5% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productsorchids, vegetables; poultry, eggs; fish, ornamental fish
Industrieselectronics, chemicals, financial services, oil drilling equipment, petroleum refining, rubber processing and rubber products, processed food and beverages, ship repair, offshore platform construction, life sciences, entrepot trade

Industrial production growth rate(%)-0.8% (2008 est.)

Current account balance$25.78 billion (2008 est.)
$39.11 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$342.7 billion (2008 est.)
$303.1 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment (including electronics), consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, mineral fuels
Exports - partners(%)Malaysia 12.1%, Indonesia 10.5%, Hong Kong 10.3%, China 9.2%, US 7.1%, Japan 4.9%, Australia 4.1% (2008)
Imports$309.6 billion (2008 est.)
$254 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs, consumer goods
Imports - partners(%)Malaysia 11.9%, US 11.8%, China 10.5%, Japan 8.1%, South Korea 5.6%, Indonesia 5.5%, Saudi Arabia 4.6% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$174.2 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$163 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$25.52 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$25.59 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$250.2 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$232.8 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$173.6 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$169.9 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Exchange ratesSingapore dollars (SGD) per US dollar - 1.415 (2008 est.), 1.507 (2007), 1.5889 (2006), 1.6644 (2005), 1.6902 (2004)

Currency (code)Singapore dollar (SGD)

Telephones - main lines in use1.857 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular6.375 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: excellent service
domestic: excellent domestic facilities; launched 3G wireless service in February 2005; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is nearly 175 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 65; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and US; satellite earth stations -4; supplemented by VSAT coverage (2008)
Internet country code.sg
Internet users3.37 million (2008)
Airports8 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 106 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 3,297 km
paved: 3,297 km (includes 150 km of expressways) (2007)

Ports and terminalsSingapore
Military branchesSingapore Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force (includes Air Defense) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-21 years of age for male compulsory military service; 16 years of age for volunteers; 2-year conscript service obligation, with a reserve obligation to age 40 (enlisted) or age 50 (officers) (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,277,862 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,033,961
females age 16-49: 1,104,952 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 27,715
female: 26,290 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)4.9% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationaldisputes persist with Malaysia over deliveries of fresh water to Singapore, Singapore's extensive land reclamation works, bridge construction, and maritime boundaries in the Johor and Singapore Straits; in November 2007, the ICJ will hold public hearings as a consequence of the Memorials and Countermemorials filed by the parties in 2003 and 2005 over sovereignty of Pedra Branca Island/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge; Indonesia and Singapore continue to work on finalization of their 1973 maritime boundary agreement by defining unresolved areas north of Indonesia's Batam Island; piracy remains a problem in the Malacca Strait

Electricity - production(kWh)38.67 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)36.6 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)8,553 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)896,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)1.289 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)2.109 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)8.27 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.2% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS4,200 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 200 (2007 est.)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.5%
male: 96.6%
female: 88.6% (2000 census)

Education expenditures(% of GDP)3.7% of GDP (2001)

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