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Singapore: general information
It's considered that a small island covered with jungle was named by some Malayan prince back in 14th century. While hunting, he saw an animal he could not identify and thought that was a lion. So the land was named Singapura, which means lion's place in Malay.
In the beginning of 19th century British were looking for a base on the way from India to China. Thomas Stamford Raffles examined the island with plenty of fresh water resources and made the choice. In 1819 he negotiated with the sultan of Malayan Johore and was allowed to establish a settlement on the island of Singapore. To attract people to the almost uninhabited island, free trade was allowed in Singapore. Soon the flows of people seeking for better life moved there from many Asian lands. In many years, there formed up three basic ethnic groups: Chinese, Malay, Indian.
There was also a tragic episode in the history of Singapore. In 1942, after a fierce battle, it was surrendered to Japanese and renamed Shonan-to (the Island of Southern Light in Japanese). The occupation lasted till the August of 1945.
Singapore was British possession till 1963, then joined the Federation of Malaysia, and from 1965 this is an independent state. Its population is 4.4 million. 76% of them are Chinese, 14% Malays, 8% Indians. Respectively, Chinese, Malay and Tamil are official languages. Nevertheless, due to ethnic variety, the leading place belongs to the fourth official language English. This is the language of street advertising and road signs, the language of inter-ethnic communication, the language of educated youth the groups of students, even if monoethnic, conversate in English.
The state of Singapore, besides the island of Singapore properly, also includes many smaller islands. Its total area is not constant. Now it is 697.2 sq. km. It is planned to have extra 100 sq. km. in 2030. This does not mean that Singapore plans annexing territores. The extra land would be reclaimed from the sea.
The climate of Singapore is tropical humid, what explains by its location close to equator. Bright sun, cloudy sky and rains shift quickly, sometimes all in one day. The land not used is covered with rainforest. The arable land practically absent.
There is the left-hand traffic pattern in Singapore, as inherited from British. The currency unit is Singapore dollar, US$1 equal to S$1.6.
Photos by the author
© Dmitry Alemasov
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