Singapore consists of the island of Singapore and some 60 small islands. It is situated between latitudes 1'09'N and 1'29'N and longitudes 103'38'E and 104'25'E approximately 137 north of the Equator. The main island is about 42km in length and 23 km in breadth and 586.5 sq km in area. It has a coastline of a pproximately 150.5 km. The total land area, including the smaller islands, is about 646.1 sq km.
Singapore's immediate neighbours are Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia to the North, Sabah and Sarawak to the East) and Indonesia to the South. Singapore is liked to Peninsular Malaysia by a 1,056-m-long causeway, which carries a road, a railway and a water pipeline across the Strait of Johore. A second link at Tuas with Peninsular Malaysia is under construction.
Some of the offshore islands are of economic importance. The major ones are Pulau Tekong,(2,442.6 ha); Pulau Ubin(1,019.2 ha); Sentosa(332.8 ha); Pulau Bukum(144.9 ha); Pulau Merlimau(101.6 ha); and Pulau Ayer Chawan(169.2 ha). Pulau Seburus Dalam and Luar were merged br reclamation with Pulau Seraya, which has a total land area of 193.4 ha. Two causeways, one links Singapore with the two closest Southern islands, Sentose and Pulau Brani while the other links Singapore with Pulau Damar Laut.
The island can be roughly divided into three regions:the central hilly region of igneous rock formation in Bukit Timah, Bukit Gombak, Bukit Panjang and Bukit Mandai; the western region of sedimentary rocks, which form a succession of northwest-treading hills and valleys; and the relatively flat eastern region of sand and gravel deposits which extends from Katong to Changi.
The main features of Singapore climate are relatively uniform temperature, high humidity and abundant rainfall due to the maritime exposure of the island and its close proximity to the equator.
The average daily temperature is 26.7 degrees celsius. The mean maximun temperature of 30.8 degrees celsius occurs in the afternoon, and the mean minimum of 23.9 degrees celsius just before dawn. December and January, during the Northeast Monsoon are generally the coolest months.
Relative humidity often exceeds 90% at night and in the early hours of the morning shortly before sunrise. On dry afternoons, it is usually between 60% and 70%. The average relative humidity is 84.4%.
Surface wind direction generally blows from north or northeast during the Northeast Monsoon season (December to March) and from south or southeast during the Southwest Monsoon season (June to September). Mean wind speeds are usually light, below 20 km/hr, although mean wind speeds up to 40 km/hr can occur during a Northeast Monsoon surge. Winds during the inter-monsoon months are mostly light and variable.
Rain, falling all year round, is the most abundantfrom November, the end of the inter-monsoon to January, the first half of the Northeast Monsoon. July, during the Southwest Monsoon, records the lowest average rainfall. Much of the rain falls in sudden showers with rainfall of more than 50 m/day occuring about nine times a year. The annual rainfall is 2352 mm.
Thunderstorms are frequent during the inter-monsoon months of April-May and October-November. The highest recorded wind speed during a squall is 144 kn/h.
February is usually the sunniest month, while December is usually the opposite.
Except for the coastal areas, much of Singapore was originally covered by lush tropical rainforest. Beach forest lined the eastern coast; mangrove forest dominated the rest of the coast, penetrating inland along river banks.
Over 300 ha of the original primary forest remains in the Nature Reserves, managed by the National Parks Board (NParks). Coastal hill dipterocarp forest dominates the Bukit Timah Nature Reserves, lowland dipterocarp forest and freshwater swamp forest occur in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Remnants of the origianl beach forest can be found only on some of the Southern islands. Mangrove forest still clings to undeveloped parts of the northern coast and along rivers that have escaped canalisation. Substantial tracts of mangrove forest can also be found on the offshore islands, especially the northern islands. Elsewhere, scrub and plantation still exists where urbanisation has not taken over.
The only large mammal surviving is the wild pig which still holds out on two islands; Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. Native mammals commonly encountered include the long-tailed macaque, slender squirrel,and plantain squirrel. The flying lemur and common treeshrew are occassionally seen.
Singapore has over 300 bird species. Large numbers of migrant species are observed during the migratory season from September to May. Birds commonly seen in the urban area include the common and white-vented mynas, Asian tree sparrow, yellow-vented bulbul, olive-backed sunbird, black-naped oriole, spotted dove and Asian glossy starling.
Reptiles like reticulated python, the longest snake in the world, still abound. Other reptiles often encountered are the Malayan water monitor, green-crested lizard, Malayan box turtle and the noisy house geckoes. The flying lizard, spiny hill turtle and many species of snakes may be found with careful observation. Amphibians include several species of frogs and toads and one species of caecilian.
Native freshwater fish species can be found in water catchment resevoirs and forest streams.
There is also a great variety of insect life, the most prominent of which are butterflies, with over 350 species.
The resident population comprising Singapore citizens and permanent residents, was estimated at 2,986,500 as at June 1995. This was an increase of 1.9 per cent over the population in 1994. Population density rose from 4,001 residents per square kilometre in 1985 to 4,608 residents per square kilometre in 1995.
Chinese residents numbered 2,311,300 (77.4%), Malays 423,500 (14.2%), Indians 214,900 (7.2%) and persons of other ethnic groups 36,800(1.2%).
In June 1995, there were 1,502,900 residents males and 1,483,600 resident females. The sex ratio was 1,013 males per 1,000 females.
Residents below 15 years of age formed 23.0% of the resident population while those aged 60 years and over comprised 9.9%. The proportion of elderly residents aged 60 years and over increased from 8.1% to 9.9% in the last decade. As a result, the median age of the resident population in 1995 rose to 31.8 years, from 27.2 years in 1985.
The official languages are Malay, Chinese(Mandarin), Tamil and English. Malay is the national language and English is the language of administration.