Singapore is an island of 646 sq. km, about the size of Chicago.
It is located at one of the crossroads of the world. Singapore's
strategic position has helped it grow into a major center for trade,
communications, and tourism. Its geographical location is 96km north
of the equator, between longitude 103 degrees 36' East and 104 degrees
Singapore was first mentioned in a 3rd Century Chinese account,
which described it as "Pu-luo-chung", or island at the end of the
peninsula. In the 7th Century, a Malayan Buddhist Empire was established
on the island of Sumatra.
Singapore's population of approximately 3,612,000 (June 1996) comprises
77.3% Chinese, 14.1% Malays, 7.3% Indians, and 1.3% people of other
descent. Singapore's indigenous people were the Malays, but after
the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles and the establishment of a British
trading post, Singapore became a magnet that drew thousands of migrants
Singapore is not just one island but a main island with over 60
surrounding islets. However, its compact size belies its economic
growth. In just 150 years, Singapore has grown into a thriving center
of commerce and industry. Its former role as an entrepot has diminished,
as the Republic increased its manufacturing base.