Country Presentation

Singapore Map - courtesy of NationsOnline.orgSingapore  is a city-state in Southeast Asia located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula.

The country is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor (North) and from Indonesia by the Singapore Straits (South). It is near the equator and has a tropical climate.

Singapore is a great country for expatriation. Its standard of living are among the highest in the world, the population is culturally diverse, and it is strategically located in terms of regional business and travel.


Full name: Republic of Singapore
Population: 5.3 million (UN, 2012)
Capital: Singapore

Government: Parliamentary republic
President: Tony Tan Keng Yam (since September 2011)
Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong (since August 2004)

Internet domain: .sg
International dialling code: +65
Monetary unit: 1 Singapore Dollar = 100 sen
Area: 660 sq km (255 sq miles)
Life expectancy: 79 years (men), 84 years (women)

Languages: English, Chinese dialects, Malay, Tamil
Major religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism


1819 - Sir Stamford Raffles of British East India Company establishes trading post on Singapore island.
1826 - Singapore, Malacca and Penang become British colony of the Straits Settlements.
1832 - Singapore becomes capital of Straits Settlements. The port attracts thousands of migrants from China, India and other parts of Asia.
1867 - Straits Settlements become crown colony of British Empire.
1869 - Suez Canal opens, trade booms.
1922 - Singapore becomes main British naval base in East Asia.
1941 - World War II. Japan bombs Singapore.
1942 - Singapore falls to Japan, which renames it Syonan (Light of the South).
1945 - Japan defeated. Singapore under British military administration.
1946 - Singapore becomes separate crown colony.
1959 - Self-government attained with Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister.
1963 - Singapore joins the Federation of Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia.
1965 - Singapore pulls out of the Federation of Malaysia, at Malaysia's invitation, amid political and ethnic tensions. The territory becomes an independent republic and joins the United Nations.
1967 - Singapore founder member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
1971 - Last British military forces withdrawn.
1984 - Two opposition MPs elected to parliament for first time.
1990 - Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew stands down after 31 years, but continues to exert significant influence as senior minister. Goh Chok Tong becomes new prime minister.
1993 - Ong Teng Cheong becomes first directly-elected president.
1994 - Caning of American teenager Michael Fay for vandalising cars grabs world headlines.
1995 - Nick Leeson's disastrous dealings on Singapore stock exchange lead to collapse of Britain's oldest merchant bank, Barings. He is convicted in Singapore and sentenced to six and a half years in jail.
1998 - Singapore slips into recession for the first time in 13 years during Asian financial crisis.
1999 - S R Nathan becomes president without election after he is declared only candidate eligible to run.
2001 - Unprecedented anti-government rally in April - the first legal demonstration outside election campaign. Hundreds gather to support veteran opposition leader J.B. Jeyaretnam who faces bankruptcy and thus expulsion from parliament.
2001 - Malaysia, Singapore agree to end long-standing disputes ranging from water supplies to air space in September. They agree to build a new bridge and tunnel.
2001 - General election landslide victory for governing People's Action Party which secures all but two of the 84 seats.
2002 - Japan, Singapore sign free trade agreement.
2003 - Outbreak of pneumonia-like Sars virus.
2003 - Singapore becomes first Asian nation to sign free-trade deal with US.
2004 - Lee Hsien Loong, eldest son of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, is sworn in as prime minister.
2005 - Singapore, Malaysia settle a bitter dispute over land reclamation work in their border waters.
2005 - Government approves a controversial plan to legalise casino gambling, paving the way for the construction of two multi-billion dollar casino resorts.
2005 - President S R Nathan begins a second, six-year term after winning elections from which his rivals were disqualified.
2005 - Execution of an Australian man for drug smuggling, despite high-level appeals for clemency.
2006 - Lee Hsien Loong's ruling People's Action Party wins general elections.
2007 - Two African men are executed for drug smuggling despite worldwide appeals for clemency.
2007 - The world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, flies from Singapore to Sydney on its first commercial flight run by state-controlled Singapore Airlines.
2009 - Official figures show that the economy shrank by 19.7% in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the previous three months, its biggest quarterly contraction on record.
2009 - Singapore appears to emerge from its worst recession on record after the economy expands at an annualised rate of 20.4% between April and June, the first quarterly expansion in a year.
2011 - Ruling People's Action Party (PAP) wins all but six seats in parliament, but opposition parties make unprecedented gains in what PM Lee Hsien Loong calls a "watershed election".
2011 - Tony Tan is elected president, in the first election of its kind for 18 years.
2012 November - Singapore experiences its first strike since the 1980s. Chinese bus drivers walk out complaining their pay is lower than local or Malaysian drivers.
2013 May - Demonstrators hold an unusually large rally to protest against government plans to boost the population, mostly with foreign workers.


Agriculture employs 1% of the workforce and contributes to 0.5% of GDP.
The industry employs 29% of the workforce and contributes to 26.3% of GDP.
Services employs 70% of the workforce and contribute to 73.2% of GDP.

Singapore is the strongest economy in the region. Its economic growth depends heavily on the industry (ex. it is the third-largest oil refining centre) and service sectors (ex. it is a premier financial centre). In recent years, it also became one of the world's biggest casino gambling market.

Main indices

GDP: U.S. $ 318.9 billion
GDP / capita: U.S. $43,117 (est, 2011)
GNI per capita: US $40,920 (World Bank, 2010)
Annual growth: 0.3%
Inflation rate: 5.2%
Unemployment rate: 1.9%
Imports of goods and services: U.S. $ 311.7 billion
Exports of goods and services: U.S. $ 414.8 billion

(Estimates 2011)


Singapore is a very easy country to live in as an expatriate. Still, here are a few guidelines to facilitate your move and make the most of your expatriation.

Entry / Living

Your passport shall be valid for at least six months when entering the country. If not, you will be turned away and returned to your starting point.


Estimates of monthly average budget needed to cover your expenses:

For a single person: 5,000 SGD (approx. US$ 4,000)
For a couple: 7,500 SGD (approx. US$ 6,000).
For a couple with two children 10,000 SGD (approx. US$ 8,000) - off fees in an international school



The power in Singapore is set at 230V/50Hz and uses the British-style plugs (3 square pins in a large fused plug). The electrical system is normally very reliable.

For devices that can operate at 230V, plug adapters can be purchased almost anywhere for a few SGD. For devices that require 120V, the best place to find adapters and transformers is in Tanglin Mall, along Orchard Road.


Singaporean love their food and can talk about it for hours. One reason is that they eat at all hours. Another is that they are unrepenting foodies. Small restaurants / with long queue of foodies waiting for to be served are a common sight. And if you ask some of the patrons in-line, some come from across the island to enjoy their favourite delicacies.

Hypermarkets, Supermarkets and local markets are well supplied, and there are a large selection of local and imported products. Imported products can be very expensive, especially alcohol and fine dining products.

  • Singaporean Cuisine
  • Buying foreign food
  • Local Specialities



The Government of Singapore does its best to promote the use of its 1st grade public transport system over private transport. As a result, car prices are some of the most expensive in the world and gas prices follow suit. Driving is on the left, and cyclists should be cautious, Singaporean drivers are not used to seeing them on the roads.

As an expat, you are allowed to drive with your national or international driving license for a few months. If your driving license is not in English, you need to carry along an official translation of your driving license. It is recommended to transfer it to a Singaporean driving license within your first year in the country.



Employment / Work

The dream situation still is to be transferred to the city-state by your company and enjoy the expatriate lifestyle. While this type of package is on the decline, it still happens, especially for C level executives. Failing that, finding work in Singapore is relatively easy compared to other countries in the region thanks to its high level of development. Provided you hold a decent qualification / degree that gives you a set of skills that employers are looking for that is.

Your local chamber of commerce in Singapore may be a great place to get more information on working in Singapore and getting insider info on who to contact if you're looking for a job or business contacts.

Tax system

Singapore is a tax friendly jurisdiction.

The rate of income tax depends on the resident status of the individual which is determined by the duration of his stay in the country. A resident individual is taxed on his chargeable income at graduated rates from 3.5% to 20% - after the deduction of tax relief - while a non resident is taxed at a flat rate of 15% or the progressive resident rates, whichever is higher.

The regular rate of corporate income tax is 17% for 2013.

Singapore does not have annual wealth taxes, estate duties, gift taxes, or accumulated earnings tax.

Overseas income derived outside Singapore, Singapore dividends and bank interest are tax exempt in Singapore.


Singapore is reputed for the quality of its public education and regularly tops international charts in this area. All local schools will have expatriates kids Expatriates can register their kids to the local school but are usually on a short The same goes for international schools which follow a high standard. Cost may vary, some options are very expensive, even compared to what you may be used to back home, while others can be reasonnable. You can also arrange for home-schooling should you not find your match.

Local System

1) Government schools
These schools are fully funded by the Singapore government and strictly follow all the rules and guidelines dictated by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

2) Government-aided schools

These schools are partly funded by the Singapore government but also supplement their coffers thanks to private sources (e.g. as fund-raising activities. While they follow the Singaporean cursus, their independent funding allows them to maintain a certain level of autonomy over how they operate. For example, they can choose to offer class sizes that are different from that recommended by MOE.

International Schools

International schools were originally founded to serve the expatriate populations. They usually define themselves by their curriculum, and most recommendable ones boast international accreditation. A school can only be accredited when it has been approved by a non-government agency reviewing schools in a region or type of curriculum.

List of international schools in Singapore

Singaporean Kindergartens are mostly privately-run, and admit children between the ages of 3 to 6 years old. 


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