Capital city: Singapore
Currency: Singapore Dollar
Official language: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English
Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate with no distinctive seasons, uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity, and abundant rainfall. Temperatures usually range from 23 to 32 °C (73 to 90 °F). Relative humidity averages around 79% in the morning and 73% in the afternoon. April and May are the hottest months, with the wetter monsoon season from November to January. From July to October, there is often haze caused by bush fires in neighbouring Indonesia. Although Singapore does not observe daylight saving time, it follows time zone GMT+8, one hour ahead of its geographical location.
Singapore has a highly developed market-based economy, based historically on extended entrepôttrade. Along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the original Four Asian Tigers. The Singaporean economy is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, and most business-friendly. The 2011 Index of Economic Freedomranks Singapore as the second freest economy in the world, behind Hong Kong. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Singapore is consistently ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, along with New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries.
Singapore is the 14th largest exporter and the 15th largest importer in the world. The country has the highest trade-to-GDP ratio in the world at 407.9 percent, signifying the importance of trade to its economy. The country is currently the only Asian country to have AAA credit ratings from all three major credit rating agencies – Standard & Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch. Singapore attracts a lot of foreign direct investment because of its location, corruption-free environment, skilled workforce, low tax rates and advanced infrastructure. There are more than 7,000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe in Singapore. There are also 1,500 companies from China and 1,500 from India. Foreign firms are found in almost all sectors of the economy. Singapore is also the second largest foreign investor in India. Roughly 44 percent of the Singaporean workforce is made up of non-Singaporeans. Over ten free trade agreementshave been signed with other countries and regions.
Singapore also possesses the world's tenth largest foreign reserves. The currency of Singapore is the Singapore dollar, issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. It is interchangeable with the Brunei dollar.
The Singaporean economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing, which constituted 27.2% of GDP in 2010 and includes significant electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical engineering and biomedical sciences sectors. In 2006 Singapore produced about 10% of the world's foundry waferoutput. Despite its small size, Singapore has a diversified economy, a strategy that the government considers vital for growth and stability.
Singapore's foreign policy is directed to maintaining a secure environment in Southeast Asia as well as the surrounding territories. An underlying principle is political and economic stability in the region. It has diplomatic relations with 175 other sovereign states. As one of the five founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations(ASEAN), the country is a strong supporter of the ASEAN Free Trade Areaand the ASEAN Investment Area, because Singapore's economic growth is closely linked with the economic progress of the region as a whole. Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tongproposed the formation of an ASEAN Economic Community, a step beyond the current AFTA bringing it closer to a common market. This idea was agreed to in 2007 for implementation by 2015. Other regional organisations are also important to Singapore, and it is the host of the APEC Secretariat. Singapore also maintains membership in other regional organisations, such as Asia-Europe Meeting, the Forum for East Asia-Latin American Cooperation, and the East Asia Summit. It is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movementand the Commonwealth.
In general, bilateral relations with other ASEAN members are strong; however, disagreements have arisen, and relations with neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia have historically been very strained and difficult. Malaysia has often clashed with Singapore over the delivery of fresh water to Singapore, and the Singaporean government has threatened to send troops into Malaysia should the Malaysians break water contracts signed with Singapore and unilaterally cut off the water supply to Singapore. Conflicts have also arisen over the Singapore Armed Forcesentering Malaysian airspace, the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, the relocation of Tanjong Pagar railway station, and many other ideological and cultural issues. Border issues exist with both Malaysia and Indonesia, and both have banned the sale of marine sand to Singapore over disputes about Singapore's land reclamation. Some previous disputes have been resolved by the International Court of Justice. Piracy in the Malacca Straithas been a cause of concern for all three countries. Close economic ties exist with Brunei, and the two share a pegged currency value.
Singapore and the United States share a long-standing and strong relationship, in particular in defence, the economy, health and education. The U.S. was Singapore's third largest trading partner in 2010, behind the People's Republic of China and the European Union.The two countries have a free-trade agreement signed in 2003. Singapore routinely hosts American ships and American fighter aircraft. More than 100 American Navy warships call at Singapore annually, and there is a modest presence of less than 200 US military personnel based permanently in Singapore. Several naval bases in Singapore were built to US specifications, so as to allow American ships, especially carriers, to dock. In 2011, the US Navy announced plans to station several of its new Littoral combat ships in Singapore permanently. Singapore also signed 'The Strategic Framework Agreement for a Closer Cooperation Partnership in Defence and Security' with the United States in 2005. The agreement gives a formal structure to addressing existing and future areas of bilateral security and defence cooperation.
The Singapore government believes that regional security, and by extension Singapore's security, will be affected if the United States loses its resolve in Iraq. Singapore faces the threat of terrorism itself, as evidenced by the Singapore embassies attack plot. Singapore has pushed regional counter-terrorism initiatives, with a strong resolve to deal with terrorists inside its borders. To this end it has given support to the US-led coalition to fight terrorism, with bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation initiatives, and joint military exercises. Relations with the United States have expanded in other areas, and the two countries take part in joint policy dialogues.
Relations with the People's Republic of China were established in the 1970s, and since then the two countries have enjoyed a strong relationship, being major players in strengthening the ASEAN–China relationship. Singapore has also co-created the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-cityand Suzhou Industrial Parkin China. Singapore sees the United States as a counterweight to balance China's rise in the region, and has encouraged more American involvement and presence in the region to maintain peace and security.
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