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Demographics



High-rise HDB flats and condominiums overlooking Bishan Park

As of 2011[update], the population of Singapore is 5.18 million people, of whom 3.25 million (63%) are citizens while the rest (37%) are permanent residents or foreign workers. Twenty-three percent of Singaporean citizens were born outside Singapore i.e. foreign born citizens. There are half a million permanent residents in Singapore in 2011. The resident population does not take into account the 11 million transient visitors who visit Singapore annually.

The median age of Singaporeans is 37 years old and the average household size is 3.5 persons. Due to scarcity of land, four out of five Singaporeans live in subsidised, high-rise, public housing apartments known as Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats, after the board responsible for public housing in the country. In 2010, three quarters of Singaporean residents live in properties that are equal to or larger than a four room HDB flat or in private housing. Home ownership rate is at 87.2%. Mobile phone penetration rate is extremely high at 1,400 mobile phone subscribers per 1000 people. Around 1 in 10 residents owns a car.

The total fertility rate is estimated to be .78 children per woman in 2012, the lowest in the world and well below the 2.1 needed to replace the population. To overcome this problem, the Singapore government has been encouraging foreigners to immigrate to Singapore for the past few decades. The large number of immigrants has kept Singapore's population from declining. Singapore traditionally has one of the lowest unemployment rate among developed countries. Singaporean unemployment rate has not exceeded 4% in the past decade, hitting a high of 3% during the 2009 global financial criss and falling to 1.9% in 2011.

As of 2009[update], about 40% of Singapore's residents were foreigners, one of the highest percentage in the world. The government is considering capping these workers, although it is recognised that they are crucial to the country's economy, as foreign workers make up 80% of the construction industry and up to 50% in the service industry.

In 2009, the government census reports that 74.2% of residents were of Chinese, 13.4% of Malay, and 9.2% of Indian descent, while Eurasians and other groups form 3.2%. Prior to 2010, each person could register as a member of only one race, by default that of his or her father, therefore, mixed-race persons were solely grouped under their father's race in government censuses. From 2010 onward, people may register using a "double-barrelled" classification, in which they may choose one primary race and one secondary race, but no more than two.

Religion

Buddhism is the most widely practised religion in Singapore, with 33% of the resident population declaring themselves adherents at the most recent census. The next largest religious demographics, in order of size, are Christianity, non-religious, Islam, Taoism and Hinduism. The proportion of Christians, Taoists and non-religious people increased between 2000 and 2010 by about 3% each, while the proportion of Buddhists decreased. Other faiths remained largely stable in their share of the population.

There are monasteries and Dharma centres from all three major traditions of Buddhism in Singapore: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Most Buddhists in Singapore are Chinese and are of the Mahayana tradition. Chinese Mahayana is the most predominant form of Buddhism in Singapore, with missionaries from Taiwan and China for several decades. However, Thailand's Theravada Buddhism has seen growing popularity among the people (not only the Chinese) in the past decade. Soka Gakkai International, a Japanese Buddhist organisation, is practised by many people in Singapore, but by mostly those of Chinese descent. Tibetan Buddhism has also made slow inroads into the country in recent years.

Languages

Singapore has four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. English is the common language of the nation and is the language of business, government and medium of instruction in schools. Public bodies in Singapore conduct their businesses in English, and official documents written in a non-English official language such as Chinese, Malay or Tamil typically have to be translated into English to be accepted for submission. The Singapore Constitution and all laws are written in English, and translators are also required if one wishes to address the Singaporean Courts in a language other than English. However, English is the native tongue for only one-third of all Singaporeans, with roughly a third of all Singaporean Chinese, a quarter of all Singaporean Malays and half of all Singaporean Indians speaking it as their native tongue. Twenty percent of Singaporeans, or one out of every five, is unable to read or write in English.

Many, but not all, Singaporeans are bilingual in English and another official language, with vastly varying degrees of fluency. The various official languages ranked in terms of literacy amongst Singaporeans are: English (80% literacy), Mandarin Chinese (65% literacy), Malay (17% literacy) and Tamil (4% literacy). Singaporean English is based on British English, and forms of English spoken range from Standard English to a pidgin known as "Singlish". Singlish is heavily discouraged by the government.

Chinese is the language which is spoken as their native tongue by the greatest number of Singaporeans, half of them. Singaporean Mandarin is the most common version of Chinese in the country, with 1.2 million using it as their home language. Nearly half a million speak other Chinese languages (which the government describes as "dialects"), mainly Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese, as their home language, although the use of these is declining in favour of Mandarin and English.

Malay was chosen as the "national language" by the Singaporean government after independence from Britain in the 1960s to avoid friction with Singapore's neighbours -- Malaysia and Indonesia -- both of which are Malay-speaking. It has a symbolic rather than functional purpose. It is used in the national anthem "Majulah Singapura" and in military commands. Today, in general, Malay is spoken within the Singaporean Malay community, with only 16.8% of all Singaporeans literate in Malay and only 12% using it as their native language.

Around 100,000 or 3% of Singaporeans speak Tamil as their native language. Even though only Tamil has official status, there have been no attempts to discourage the use or spread of other Indian languages.

Education



The Administrative Building of Nanyang Technological University, one of five public universities in Singapore

Education for primary, secondary, and tertiary levels is mostly supported by the state. All institutions, private and public, must be registered with the Ministry of Education. English is the language of instruction in all public schools and all subjects are taught and examined in English except for the "Mother Tongue" language paper. While "Mother Tongue" in general refers to the first language internationally; in Singapore's education system, it is used to refer to the second language, as English is the first language. Students who have been abroad for a while or who struggle with their "Mother Tongue" language are allowed to take a simpler syllabus or drop the subject.

Education takes place in three stages: "Primary education", "Secondary education", and "Pre-university education", of which only the Primary level is compulsory. Students begin with six years of primary school, which is made up of a four-year foundation course and a two-year orientation stage. The curriculum is focused on the development of English, the mother tongue, and maths. There are four standard subjects taught to all students: English, the mother tongue, mathematics, and science. Secondary school lasts from four to five years, and is divided between "Special", "Express", "Normal (Academic)", and "Normal (Technical)" streams within each school, depending on a student's ability level. The basic coursework breakdown is the same as in the primary level, although classes are much more specialised. Pre-university education takes place over two to three years at senior schools mostly called Junior Colleges. Some schools have a degree of freedom in their curriculum, and are known as autonomous schools. These exist from the secondary education level.

National examinations are standardised across all schools, with a test taken after each stage of school. After the first six years of education, students take the Primary School Leaving Examination, which determines their placement at secondary school. At the end of the secondary stage, GCE 'O' Level exams are taken; at the end of the following pre-university stage, the GCE 'A' Level exams are taken. Of all non-student Singaporeans aged 15 and above, 18% have no educational qualifications at all while 45% have the Primary School Leaving Examination as their highest qualification. 15% have the GCE 'O' Level as their highest qualification and 14% have a degree.

Singaporean students consistently rank top five in the world in the two major international assessments of mathematics and science knowledge. Singaporean students were ranked first in the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement and have been ranked top three every year since 1995. Singaporean students were also ranked top five in the world in terms of mathematics, science and reading in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment conducted by the OECD. The country's two main public universities – the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University – are among the top 100 universities in the world.

Health

Singapore has a generally efficient healthcare system, even with a health expenditure relatively low for developed countries. The World Health Organization ranks Singapore's healthcare system as 6th overall in the world in its World Health Report. In general, Singapore has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world for the past two decades. Life expectancy in Singapore is 79 for males and 83 for females, placing the country 15th in the world for life expectancy. Almost the whole population has access to improved water and sanitation facilities. There are fewer than 10 annual deaths from HIV per 100,000 people. There is a high level of immunisation. Adult obesity is below 10%.

The government's healthcare system is based upon the "3M" framework. This has three components: Medifund, which provides a safety net for those not able to otherwise afford healthcare, Medisave, a compulsory health savings scheme covering about 85% of the population, and Medishield, a government-funded health insurance scheme. Public hospitals in Singapore have autonomy in their management decisions, and compete for patients. A subsidy scheme exists for those on low income. In 2008, 31.9% of healthcare was funded by the government. It accounts for approximately 3.5% of Singapore's GDP.


From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
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