Economic Environment of Singapore
Laura L. Erwin-Hall
October 12, 2007
"Home to some 4.48 million people (based on the last census in 2005 reported in 2006), Singapore is the fourth most densely populated country in the world and has one of the highest per capita gross domestic products in the world."1 The employment rate is 2.40 million (June 2006), with unemployment at an all-time low at only 2.5 percent. The labor force consists of mainly manufacturing, transportation and communication, construction, and financial, business, and other services. Singapore is orderly, prosperous, and modern. According to Richard H.K. Vietor, a Harvard Business School professor, Singapore, along with China and India are best positioned to take advantage of a global economy. Singapore is labeled the most developed state in Southeast Asia. "Hard work, incredibly efficient institutions, and great leadership have made Singapore rich."2 Most people live in high-rise apartment complexes and due to the high taxation on owning their own vehicles, most commute to work on public transportation systems. "The dominant ethnic groups are the Chinese, Malays, and Indians The literacy rate of Singapore stands at 95 percent."3 Every male citizen is obligated at age 18 to fulfill military commitment and are required to complete reserve enrollment and attend refresher trainings approximately once per year until they are 35 to 40 years of age.
Since the ethnicity of Singapore is so varied, there are many languages spoken in Singapore, but the government recognizes four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. The national language is Malay, but English is used as the main business language. English was brought to Singapore by the British in 1819 when the British had a port and later a colony on the Island. When Singapore became independent in 1965, the government decided to keep English as the business language. English is used as the unifying language between the three major races in Singapore and the main reason English was chosen as the business language is because it is also the global language for most countries regarding business, technology, and science. English is also the main language in the Singaporean education system.
There is a dialect of English which is also spoken. It is called Singlish. Singlish is quite difficult for British and American English-speaking persons to understand. This is because words are blended together to form new words. For example, "don't know" in Singlish is "dunno".
The second official language is Malay which is similar to Indonesian and is written by using the Latin alphabet. Prior to English becoming the "common language", shared among most of the people in Singapore, Malay was the language most shared by people of different races and nationalities. In fact, their National anthem, Majulah Singapura, is still entirely in Malay.
The third official language is Mandarin and it is considered one of the six official languages of the United Nations. "Globally, Mandarin dialects have more speakers than any other language."4 Today, many young, non-ethnic Chinese around the world learn Mandarin in order to compete in new opportunities in China.
Tamil is the fourth official language. It is also an official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. There are over 77 million people in the world who speak Tamil.
As well as varied languages in Singapore, the country is multi-religious too. "However, the main religion is Buddhism, with 42.5 percent of the population declaring themselves Buddhists."5 Other religious groups are Christianity, Islam, Taoism, and Hinduism or no religion at all. With so many races and so many religions within Singapore, the government has made religious tolerance and racial harmony a high priority. The "Singapore: International Religious Freedom Report 2006" makes note of the fact...