Singapore er en republikk i Sørøst-Asia. Landet danner en kombinert øy- og bystat ved sørspissen av Malayahalvøya, adskilt fra denne gjennom Johorestredet, der dette utgjør en naturlig grense til Malaysia. Singaporestredet og den sørøstlige enden avMalakkastredet danner en naturlig grense til Indonesia.
I 1819 etablerte Det britiske Ostindiske kompani en handelspost på øya, som ble brukt som en handelspost langs silkeveien. Singapore ble et av de viktigste kommersielle og militære sentre for det britiske imperiet. Under andre verdenskrig ble den britiske kolonien okkupert av japanerne etter slaget om Singapore, som daværende statsminister Winston Churchill kalte «Storbritannias største nederlag». Singapore vendte tilbake til britisk styre umiddelbart etter andre verdenskrig.
Byen oppnådde uavhengighet fra Storbritannia i 1963, og Singapore fusjonerte med Malaya-føderasjonen, Sabah og Sarawakfor å danne Malaysia. Fusjonen mislyktes, og mindre enn to år senere trakk Singapore seg ut/ble kastet ut av føderasjonen og ble en uavhengig republikk innenfor Samveldet av nasjoner den 9. august 1965. Singapore ble dermed verdens eneste stat som er selvstendig mot sin vilje. Singapore ble tatt opp i FN 21. september 1965.
74 % av befolkningen er av kinesisk bakgrunn. Byen Singapore trekker til seg handelsfolk og turister fra hele verden, er et av de store finanssentrene i Asia og har en av de travleste havner i verden.
Navnet Singapore stammer fra det gammelindiske litteraturspråket sanskrit. «Simha» (eller «singha») betyr «løve» på språket, og «pura» er «by» på sanskrit. Dette blir til sammen «Løvebyen». Det er litt underlig at Singapore har denne betydningen. En forklaring er denne: En legende fra 1100-tallet sier at da en fyrste fra Sumatra hadde kommet til Singapore hadde han sett en svartfjeset tiger, noe fyrsten trodde var en svart løve, og dermed ble navnet «Løvebyen».
Singapore har et tropisk regnskogsklima uten særskilte årstider. Temperaturen, fuktigheten og nedbøren er jevnt over den samme året rundt. Temperaturene varierer mellom 23 og 32 grader.
Education for primary, secondary, and tertiary levels is mostly supported by the state. All institutions, private and public, must be registered with the Ministry of Education. English is the language of instruction in all public schools, and all subjects are taught and examined in English except for the "mother tongue" language paper. While the term "mother tongue" in general refers to the first language internationally, in Singapore's education system, it is used to refer to the second language, as English is the first language. Students who have been abroad for a while, or who struggle with their "Mother Tongue" language, are allowed to take a simpler syllabus or drop the subject.
Education takes place in three stages: primary, secondary, and pre-university education. Only the primary level is compulsory. Students begin with six years of primary school, which is made up of a four-year foundation course and a two-year orientation stage. The curriculum is focused on the development of English, the mother tongue, mathematics, and science. Secondary school lasts from four to five years, and is divided between Special, Express, Normal (Academic), and Normal (Technical) streams in each school, depending on a student's ability level. The basic coursework breakdown is the same as in the primary level, although classes are much more specialized. Pre-university education takes place over two to three years at senior schools, mostly called Junior Colleges.
Some schools have a degree of freedom in their curriculum and are known as autonomous schools. These exist from the secondary education level and up.
National examinations are standardised across all schools, with a test taken after each stage. After the first six years of education, students take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), which determines their placement at secondary school. At the end of the secondary stage, GCE "O"-Level exams are taken; at the end of the following pre-university stage, the GCE "A"-Level exams are taken. Of all non-student Singaporeans aged 15 and above, 18% have no education qualifications at all while 45% have the PSLE as their highest qualification; 15% have the GCE 'O' Level as their highest qualification and 14% have a degree.
Singaporean students consistently rank in the top five in the world in the two major international assessments of mathematics and science knowledge:
• Singaporean students were ranked first in the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, and have been ranked in the top three every year since 1995.
• Singaporean students were also ranked in the top five in the world in terms of mathematics, science, and reading in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).The country's two main public universities—the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University—are among the top 50 in the world.
Singaporean cuisine is diverse and contains elements derived from several ethnic groups, as a result of its history as a seaport with a large immigrant population. Influences include the cuisines of the native Malays and the largest ethnic group, the Chinese, as well as Indonesian, Indian, Peranakan, and Western traditions (particularly English and Portuguese-influenced Eurasian, known as Kristang). Influences from other regions such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Middle East are also present.
In Singapore, food is viewed as crucial to national identity and a unifying cultural thread. Singaporean literature declares eating a national pastime and food a national obsession. Food is a frequent topic of conversation among Singaporeans. Religious dietary strictures do exist; Muslims do not eat pork and Hindus do not eat beef, and there is also a significant group of vegetarians. People from different communities often eat together, while being mindful of each other's culture and choosing food that is acceptable for all.'
Other than Singaporean cuisine, it is also common in Singapore to find restaurants specialising in cuisine from a great variety of countries around the world.
Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil. English is the common language, and is the language of business, government, and the medium of instruction in schools. Public bodies in Singapore, such as the Singapore Public Service, (which includes the Singapore Civil Service and other agencies), conduct their businesses in English, and official documents written in a non-English official language such as Malay, Chinese or Tamil typically have to be translated into English to be accepted for submission. The Constitution of Singapore and all laws are written in English, and interpreters are required if one wishes to address the Singaporean Courts in a language other than English. However, English is the native tongue for only one-third of all Singaporeans, with roughly a third of all Singaporean Chinese, a quarter of all Singaporean Malays and half of all Singaporean Indians speaking it as their native tongue. Twenty percent of Singaporeans cannot read or write in English.
Many, but not all, Singaporeans are bilingual in English and another official language, with vastly varying degrees of fluency. The official languages ranked in terms of literacy amongst Singaporeans are English (80% literacy), Mandarin (65% literacy), Malay (17% literacy), and Tamil (4% literacy). Singapore English is based on British English, and forms of English spoken in Singapore range from Standard Singapore English to a pidgin known as "Singlish". Singlish is heavily discouraged by the government.
Mandarin is the language that is spoken as the native tongue by the greatest number of Singaporeans, half of them. Singaporean Mandarin is the most common version of Chinese in the country, with 1.2 million using it as their home language. Nearly half a million speak other varieties of Chinese, mainly Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese, as their home language, although the use of these is declining in favour of Mandarin and English.
Malay was chosen as a national language by the Singaporean government after independence from Britain in the 1960s to avoid friction with Singapore's neighbours—Malaysia and Indonesia—which are Malay-speaking. It has a symbolic, rather than functional purpose. It is used in the national anthem "Majulah Singapura", in citations of Singaporean orders and decorations, and in military commands. Today, in general, Malay is spoken within the Singaporean Malay community, with only 17% of all Singaporeans literate in Malay and only 12% using it as their native language. Around 100,000, or 3%, of Singaporeans speak Tamil as their native language. Tamil has official status in Singapore and there have been no attempts to discourage the use of other Indian languages.