"Clearly you've never been to Singapore..."Clearly, the writers of Pirates of the Caribbean hadn't either... the place is depicted as a large town at the close of the era of pirates, when it was in fact a swampy island (which had formerly been a major trading hub until the Majapahit Empire had enough of that and started massacring people on the island) until being bought up at the start of the era of empires by Sir Stamford Raffles, who was just about the opposite of Lord Cutler Beckett and quite a guy. To be fair, though, they got other things right: Chinese formed a big part of the population of Singapore when it did exist and the Straits of Malacca by which its sits are even today a (comparative) pirate hotspot. Also, prior to becoming a Crown Colony in the latter part of the 19th Century, it did have a reputation of being a Wretched Hive with rampant crime, corruption and opium; a derisive nickname given to it at the time was "Sin Galore." A British colony for a while, it was captured by the Japanese in 1942 after they came in via the jungle on bicycles - the naval guns were pointed out to sea. Winston Churchill called it the worst disaster in British history. This event, and the subsequent war atrocities, is generally acknowledged as the trigger of the local awakening that the Western colonial powers weren't - and were never - invincible, and when the British returned, the independence movement kicked into full gear with the Cold War as a backdrop, with self-governance being granted in 1959. In 1963, Singapore declared independence from the British Empire as part of Malaysia, but this didn't stick due to the Malaysian-Indonesian Konfrontasi (the only armed conflict where Singaporean soldiers died), where Indonesian leader Sukarno attempted to forcibly incorporate Malaysia into his "Greater Indonesia", leading to acts of state-sponsored terrorism and border clashes in Borneo and the very violent racial riots between Chinese and Malays, exacerbated by the political squabbling between the central Malaysian government and Singapore. As such, on 9 August 1965, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew tearfully announced Singapore's independence from Malaysia. Similarly, Singapore is not made of iron ore, although it probably isn't a good idea to fall asleep while you're ashore. Singapore, officially known as the Republic of Singapore (Malay: Republik Singapura; Chinese: 新加坡共和国 ; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு), is an island city-state in South-East Asia, about 700 square kilometers in total land area, splitting from Malaysia in 1965, a state it still has some disputes with. Ties between the citizens of both countries remain extremely close, since almost everyone has friends, family, and/or business on the other side of the causeway. It's a somewhat illiberal democracy, with very frequent use of the death penalty (400 hangings between 1991 and 2004 - note that the place had a population of 4 million at the time), including for drug trafficking. The use of caning is also common as a punishment, as an American tourist by the name of Michael Fay found out the hard way in 1994 after being arrested for theft and vandalism. It has some of the most restrictive laws on the planet - criminalizing homosexuality, littering, the possession of porn, and the sale of chewing gum, amongst others. William Gibson once memorably described the place as "Disneyland with the death penalty"note , and the locals make jokes about this - you can get T-shirts saying "Singapore is a fine city", enumerating most of the fines one is likely to incur for various misdemeanours. The government finally passed laws allowing controlled gambling a couple of years back, and two large casino resorts have recently been completed (though the term "Integrated Resort" is preferred). With the new tourism spike, the government is loosening some of their stricter laws. The 15th wealthiest country per capita in the world (5th by purchasing power, 3rd if you go by IMF data), it is very densely populated, mostly of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian ethnicity. The general population is undergoing some interesting developments, with Singaporeans emigrating to other countries while foreigners come to the country seeking high paying jobs. This has been of much talk among the local population, creating the saying "National Service for the locals, jobs for the foreigners", National Service referring to the mandatory 2 years of full-time military service for male Singapore citizens. Due to the high population density, much of the population live in high-rise government developments. Some of the newer developments are nice enough to be mistaken for private condominiums, although some unsatisfied people have claimed that a few of the newer apartments are as small as the 'pigeonhole' apartments made back in the old days, only more modern. Singapore is ostensibly a representative democracy, although some political science professors would disagree rather vehemently. The primary political party, the People's Action Party (PAP), has dominated elections since self-government in 1959 much like Malaysia, but their lead slipped in the 2006 election. However, since the 2008 Malaysian election where opposition parties achieve significant gains, the PAP has become wary of changing political tides. In the 2011 election, the PAP's lead slipped once more, with various important constituencies nearly taken by the opposition note There is speculation that Singapore might end up as a two-party system with the Worker's Party (WP), especially with the first leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew and unofficial leader of PAP, finally retiring. Some military analysts rank the Singapore Armed Forces as the best equipped and trained force in the region, since its highly-educated pool of conscripts allows it to invest in more advanced military technology. Recruitment is mostly on a conscription basis using a system similar to Israel's, with able-bodied male citizens above a certain age (sixteen and a half, usually deferred until eighteen after schooling) serving one and a half to two years of National Service, followed by Reservist duty annually. Note that 16-year-olds would be considered child soldiers, according to an optional protocol to the Geneva Convention. There is also the Singapore Civil Defence Force, which started as a normal fire brigade and was made what it has become when the government decided to upgrade the organisation following the infamous Hotel New World incident in the 1980s, coincidentally the time when the murderer Adrian Lim was at large (he has since been made to dance the hemp fandango). The SCDF is also manned by conscripted full-time NS men, and now encompasses the handling of biochemical and radioactive materials, as well as first aid. Special mention must be made of the local flavor of "English" - while engrish is also commonplace due to lazy translators, Singlish is what gives the Singaporean experience its unique, 101% genuine feel (the extra 1% is because we're kiasu (scared to lose out)). Singlish is a bizarre amalgamation of a language, made mostly of English with choicy bits of Malay, Mandarin, and various Chinese dialects like Hokkien mixed in. Don't mock the language by speaking it poorly, as it'll only make you sound even sillier than we do. Neil Humphreys, a thoroughly decent bloke from Dagenham, has written a really good trilogy of books on his life in Singapore, starting with Notes from an Even Smaller Island. note He has also gained a lot of weight from enjoying our fine international cuisine - but beware of the peanut soup.
Fictional Singaporeans: Anime
Notable shows in Singapore:
The flag's red and white stripes symbolize fraternity and virtue, respectively; at the canton is the crescent symbolizing Singapore as a youthful nation, and the five stars symbolize the city-state's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality. The similarity to the Islamic Crescent and Stars is coincidental, but evocative.