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Singapore is an island nation located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It lies 137 kilometres (85 mi) north of the Equator, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of Indonesia's Riau Islands. At 704.0 km² (272 sq mi), it is one of the few remaining city-states in the world and the smallest country in Southeast Asia. Despite its small size, Singapore has a population of slightly over 5 million people, of which 2.91 million were born locally.

The British East India Company established a trading post on the island in 1819. The main settlement up to that point was a Malay fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several hundred indigenous Orang Laut people also lived around the coast, rivers and smaller islands. The British used Singapore as a strategic trading post along the spice route. It became one of the most important commercial and military centres of the British Empire. Winston Churchill called it "Britain's greatest defeat" when it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Singapore reverted to British rule in 1945. In 1963, it merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. Less than two years later it split from the federation and became an independent republic on August 9, 1965. Singapore joined the United Nations on September 21 that same year.

Since independence, Singapore's standard of living has increased. A state-led industrialization drive, aided by foreign direct investment has created a modern economy based on electronics manufacturing, petrochemicals, tourism and financial services alongside the traditional entrepôt trade. Singapore is the 17th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. The small nation has a foreign reserve of S$222 billion (US$147 billion).

Selected Article

HMS Repulse, one of the two ships that were dispatched to Singapore under the Singapore strategy
The Singapore strategy was a naval defence policy of the British Empire that evolved in a series of war plans from 1919 to 1941. It aimed to deter aggression by the Empire of Japan by basing a fleet of the Royal Navy in the Far East, able to intercept and defeat a Japanese force heading south towards India or Australia. To be effective it required a well-equipped base; Singapore was chosen as the most suitable location and work continued on a naval base over the next two decades.

The Singapore strategy was the cornerstone of British Imperial defence policy in the Far East during the 1920s and 1930s. Financial, political and practical difficulties ensured that it could not be implemented. The strategy came under sustained criticism in Britain and abroad during the 1930s. The strategy ultimately led to the despatch of Force Z to Singapore and the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse by Japanese air attack. The subsequent ignominious fall of Singapore was described by Winston Churchill as "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history".

Selected Picture

The Merlion statue
Credit: Terence (30 May 2006)

The Merlion (Chinese: 鱼尾狮; pinyin: Yúwěishī ; Tamil:கடல்சிங்கம் ) is a statue with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Its name comes from a portmanteau of mermaid and lion. The merlion was designed by Mr. Fraser Brunner for the Singapore Tourism Board in 1964 and was used as its logo up to 1997.

Selected Biography

Neila Sathyalingam (Tamil: நீலா சத்யலிங்கம்) (born 1938) is a Singaporean classical Indian dancer, choreographer and instructor of Sri Lankan Tamil origin. She is an alumna of Kalakshetra in Madras (now Chennai) under the tutelage of Srimathi Rukmini Devi Arundale. Neila emigrated with her family to Singapore in 1974. In 1977 she and her husband founded the performance arts company Apsaras Arts, which has staged performances throughout the world. She is the company's artistic director and continues to teach dance. She became a Singapore citizen in 1994.

In 1983, Neila was appointed the dance instructor and choreographer for the Indian Dance Group of the People's Association (PA), and remains its resident choreographer. She is also an artistic adviser to the National Arts Council. Up to 2007, Neila had also choreographed dance segments for the last 13 Chingay Parades. For her contributions to dance, Neila was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 1989.

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photo of a Singapore Coat of Arms

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The National University of Singapore
Credit: Sengkang (November 2006)

The National University of Singapore (Abbreviation: NUS; Chinese: 新加坡国立大学; pinyin: Xīnjiāpō Guólì Dàxué; Abbreviated 国大; Malay: Universiti Kebangsaan Singapura; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் தேசியப் பல்கலைக்கழகம் ) is Singapore's oldest university. It is the largest university in the country in terms of student enrollment and curriculum offered.


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