Singapore is one of the world’s major commercial hubs, with the fourth-biggest financial center and one of the five busiest ports. Its globalized and diversified economy depends heavily on trade, especially manufacturing, which represented 26 percent of Singapore’s GDP in 2005. In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore has the third-highest per capita income in the world but one of the world’s highest income inequalities. It places highly in international rankings with regard to education, healthcare, and economic competitiveness. Just over five million people live in Singapore, of which approximately two million are foreign-born. While Singapore is diverse, ethnic Asians predominate: 75 percent of the population is Chinese, with significant minorities of Malays, Indians, and Eurasians. There are four official languages, English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil, and the country promotes multiculturalism through a range of official policies.
Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government representing constituencies. The country’s constitution establishes a representative democracy as the political system. Freedom House ranks Singapore as “partly free” in its Freedom in the World report, and The Economist ranks Singapore as a “hybrid regime”, the third best rank of four, in its “Democracy Index”.
Executive power rests with the Cabinet of Singapore, led by the Prime Minister and, to a much lesser extent, the President. The President is elected through a popular vote, and has veto powers over a specific set of executive decisions, such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of judges, but otherwise occupies a largely ceremonial post.
Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the main island, widely known as Singapore Island, or Pulau Ujong in Malay. There are two man-made connections to Johor, Malaysia: the Johor–Singapore Causeway in the north, and the Tuas Second Link in the west. Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest of Singapore’s smaller islands. The highest natural point is Bukit Timah Hill at 166 m (545 ft).
Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate with no distinctive seasons, uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity, and abundant rainfall. Temperatures usually range from 22 to 35 °C (72 to 95 °F).
Buddhism is the most widely practiced religion in Singapore, with 33% of the resident population declaring themselves adherents at the most recent census. The next-most practiced religion is Christianity, followed by Islam, Taoism, and Hinduism. Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. English is the common language, and is the language of business, government, and the medium of instruction in schools.
Singapore is a highly developed trade-oriented market economy. Singapore’s economy has been ranked as the most open in the world, least corrupt, most pro-business, with low tax rates (14.2% of Gross Domestic Product, GDP) and has the third highest per-capita GDP in the world; in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth (excluding property, businesses, and luxury goods, which if included would increase the number of millionaires, as property in Singapore is among the world’s most expensive).