Country Listing

Singapore Table of Contents



Population: 2,674,362 in July 1989. Low birth and death rates; at some points in the 1980s, negative rate of population increase.

Languages and Ethnic Groups: Multiethnic population; 76.4 percent Chinese, 14.9 percent Malay, 6.4 percent Indian, 2.3 percent other. National language Malay but language of administration English. Four official languages--Malay, English, Chinese, and Tamil--but English predominates. Government policy for all citizens to be bilingual--competent in English and an Asian "mother tongue." Large resident alien population composed of unskilled laborers from neighboring countries and skilled managers and professionals from developed countries.

Religion: Religious diversity reflects ethnic diversity. Major religions in 1988: Buddhist, 28.3 percent; Christian, 18.7 percent: no religion, 17.6 percent; Islam, 16 percent; Daoist, 13.4 percent; Hindu, 4.9 percent; "other," 1.1 percent. Rapid growth of Christianity and decline of Chinese folk religion in 1980s.

Health: Conditions approach those of developed countries; adequate number of physicians and hospitals. Government enforces strict sanitation and public health regulations. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, and pneunonia major causes of death. In 1987 life expectancy 71.4 years for males and 76.3 years for females.

Education: British-inspired system with six-year primary and four-year secondary schools and two-year junior colleges for quarter of student population preparing for higher education. English primary language of instruction. Six institutions of higher education, government supported. Education system emphasizes English, science and technology, and vocational skills.

Data as of December 1989