Singapore: a Global City

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Global cities have become increasingly more popular over the past several years. They serve as busy sites of trade, steady workplaces, and overall international hubs. One must consider all aspects of a city’s well-being when deciding what type of urban area fits into this specific category. With a GDP of $2.8 billion and 100% urban development, Singapore is a city that is impossible to leave out on the list of what constitutes a metropolis.[i] The time they spent under British rule is what initially prompted the urbanization that led to the economic miracle we see today. They eventually became independent, and the government took extraordinary measures to ensure proper economic growth and modernization of their new city-state. This ultimately led to incredible manufacturing investments that heightened industrialization and attracted many foreign investors. Today, the high caliber of the society is reflected on its population by the demanding education and harsh laws. Singapore’s economic potential was introduced to the world while under British rule, however, it was not until after independence that its economic strategies, foreign relations and management of human resources proved it to be a world-class city. The United Kingdom’s use of Singapore as an entrepôt and their permission to allow Singapore to be mostly self-governed served as the fundamental building block to its rapid urbanization. In the 1800s, Singapore was one of the most popular entrepôts, which means it was a trading post in which materials could be imported and exported without taxes. This made it very attractive to merchants all around the world due to its “free-port status”[ii] and “strategic location.”[iii] Exporters who had been paying high taxes in Dutch-controlled ports began trading in Singapore instead for these reasons.  Additionally, in 1896, “the opening of the Suez Canal . . . attracted even heavier traffic from Europe”[iv], and rapid commercial development allowed the city to grow and urbanize. It was at this time that an unprecedented amount of people started to build residence in this area, and its overall appeal drew in innumerable amount of trade in Singapore. Many industries, such as the automobile industry and the packing industry “demanded rubber from Southeast Asia and . . . had an urgent need for tin.”[v] As a result, Singapore’s trade network was able to successfully establish and grow, providing many new and different kinds of exports.  Also during the United Kingdom’s rule on Singapore, they “permitted increasing degrees of internal self-government”[vi], which allowed the transition to independence to be a smooth one.  This previous experience was crucial to the developing city-state because they were able to learn the basics about running their own economy and could jump right into the process of creating new policies and regulations. Therefore, it was ultimately Britain's policies and regulations that catalyzed Singapore’s urbanization and served as the platform for their economic boom. After independence, Singapore’s healthy government was able to develop strategic policies that allowed its society to undergo rapid industrialization and urbanization. The government believed that their sole focus should be to maintain and develop the impressive status of their economy. However, they were bombarded with many economic challenges after gaining independence. They faced high unemployment, zero natural resources, a small domestic market, and high dependence on entrepôt trade.[vii] [viii] In response to these issues, “pro-business, pro-foreign investment, [and] export-oriented economic policy framework”[ix] were all established with hopes to salvage and perpetuate their struggling economy. First, an import substitution strategy was put in place in order to suppress unemployment numbers and decrease foreign dependence.[x] Due to the fact that there were zero natural resources on the small island, this policy was...
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