21420411911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 25 — SingaporeHugh Charles Clifford

SINGAPORE (Malay, Singapûra, i.e. “The City of the Lion”), a town and island situated at the S. extremity of the Malay Peninsula in 1° 20′ N., 103° 50′ E. Singapore townSingapore is the most important part of the crown colony of the Straits Settlements, which consists with it of Penang, Province Wellesley and the Dindings, and Malacca. The port is one of the most valuable of the minor possessions of Great Britain, as it lies midway between India and China, and thus forms the most important halting-place on the great trading-route to the Far East. It is strongly fortified by forts and guns of modern type upon which large sums have been expended by the imperial government, aided by a heavy annual military contribution payable by the colony and fixed at 20% of its gross revenue. Its geographical position gives it strategic value as a naval base; and as a commercial centre it is without a rival in this part of Asia. Its prosperity has been greatly enhanced by the rapid development of the Federated Malay States on the mainland. It possesses a good harbour; docks and extensive coaling-wharves, which have been acquired by government from the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, and are undergoing considerable extensions; an admiralty dockyard; and many facilities for shipping. It is also resorted to by native sailing craft from all parts of the Malay Archipelago. On the island of Pulau Brani stand the largest tin-smelting works in existence, which for many years have annually passed through their furnaces more than half the total tin output of the world. Singapore has also establishments for tinning pineapples, and a large biscuit factory. The town possesses few buildings of any note, but government house, the law-courts, the gaol, the lunatic asylum and the Hong-Kong and Shanghai Bank are exceptions, as also is the cathedral of St Andrew. There are three Roman Catholic churches, a Free Kirk, an American mission, and several chapels belonging to Nonconformist sects. The mosques and Chinese and Hindu temples are numerous. There are extensive military barracks at Tanglin. There is a good race-course and polo-ground, a fine cricket-ground on the esplanade, three golf courses, and several clubs.

The island is 27 m. long by 14 m. broad, and is separated from the native state of Johor, situated on the mainland of the Malay Peninsula, by a strait which, Singapore islandat its narrowest point, is less than ½ m. in width. A line of railway connects the town of Singapore with the spot on the strait opposite to the town of Johor Bharu. The strait which divides the island from the Dutch islands of Bintang, Rhio, &c, bears the name of the Singapore Strait. The surface of the island is undulating and diversified by low hills, the highest point being Bukit Timah, on the N.W. of the town, which is a little over 500 ft. in altitude. Geologically, the core of the island consists of crystalline rocks, but in the W. there are shales, conglomerates and sandstones; and all round the island the valleys are filled with alluvial deposits on a much more extensive scale than might have been looked for seeing that no river in the island has a course longer than some 6 m. The S.W. shores are fringed with coral reefs, and living coral fields are found in many parts of the straits. Being composed largely of red clays and laterite, the soil is not generally rich, and calls for the patient cultivation of the Chinese gardener to make it really productive. There is a forest reserve near the centre of the island, but the forest is of a mean type. The humid climate causes the foliage here, as in other parts of Malaya, to be very luxuriant, and the contrast presented by the bright green on every side and the rich red laterite of the roads is striking. When it was first occupied by Sir Stanford Raffles, on behalf of the East India Company, the island was covered by jungle, but now all the land not reserved by government has been taken up, principally by Chinese, who plant vegetables in large quantities, indigo and other tropical products. There are fine botanical gardens at Tanglin on the outskirts of the town.

Climate.—The climate of Singapore is always humid and usually very hot. There is hardly any seasonal change to be observed, and the dampness of the climate causes the heat to be more oppressive than are higher temperatures in drier climates. The mean atmospheric pressure in Singapore during 1906 was 29.908 in. The highest shade temperature for the year was 92° F. registered in March; the lowest 72.5° F., registered in November. The mean was 80.3° F. The range for the year was 14.5° F. The temperature of solar radiation was in 1906: highest in the sun 153.8°, recorded in March; the lowest 143.4°, recorded in June. The highest temperature of nocturnal radiation on grass was 73.1°, recorded in May, and the lowest 67.2°, recorded in January. The mean for 1906 was 71°. Relative humidity: highest 92, recorded in December; lowest, 72, recorded in April; mean for 1906, 81. N. and N.E. winds prevail from the middle of October to the end of April, and S. and S.W. winds from the middle of May to the end of September. The mean velocity of winds for 1906 was 110 m.; the maximum recorded being 148 in May, the minimum velocity recorded being 76 in December. The rainfall of Singapore for 1906 was 129.64 in.; the heaviest rainfall for any one month being 15.23 in. recorded in January, the smallest being 4.98 in. recorded in May. There were 182 rainy days during the year, the average annual number of the past decade being 176.

Population.—The following shows the composition of the population, which numbered in all 228,555 in 1901: Europeans 3824, Eurasians 4120, Chinese 164,041, Malays 36,080, Indians, 17,823, other nationalities 2667. The births registered in Singapore during 1898 numbered 3751, namely, 1960 males and 1791 females, being a ratio of 16.55 per mille. The deaths registered during the same period numbered 7602, namely, 5894 males and 1708 females, a ratio of 33.54 per mille. The excess of deaths over births is due to the fact that there are comparatively few women among the Chinese; the steady increase of the population in the face of this fact is to be attributed entirely to immigration, mainly from China, but to a minor extent from India also. The persons classed above under “other nationalities” are representatives of almost every Asiatic nation of importance, and of many African races, Singapore being one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Administration and Trade.—As Singapore is the chief administrative centre of the colony, the governor, who is also ex officio high commissioner of the Federated Malay States, British North Borneo, Brunei, Sarawak and governor of Labuan, has his principal residence here. Here also are chief offices of the various heads of the government departments, and here the legislative council of the colony holds its sessions. The town is governed by a municipality composed partly of ex officio, nominated and elected members.

Finance.—The revenue of Singapore for 1906 amounted to $5,942,661, exclusive of $26,650 received on account of land sales. The chief sources of revenue were licences (which include the farms let for the collection of import duties in opium, wine and spirits) $4,248,856, nearly half the revenue of the settlement; post and telegraphs $424,645; railway receipts $196,683; and land revenue $104,482. The expenditure of the settlement during 1906 amounted to $5,392,380. Of this $1,416,392 was expended on personal emoluments, and $1,116,548 on other charges connected with the administrative establishments; $1,763,488 was spent on military services, exclusive of expenses connected with the volunteer force; $183,075 on the upkeep and maintenance of existing public works; and $569,884 on new public works.

Trade.—The trade of Singapore is chiefly dependent upon the position which the port occupies as the principal emporium of the Federated Malay States and of the Malayan archipelago, and as the great port of call for ships passing to and from the Far East. The total value of the imports into Singapore in 1906 was $234,701,760, and the exports in the same year were valued at $202,210,849. The ships using the port during 1906 numbered 1886 with an aggregate tonnage of 3,805,566 tons, of which 1261 were British with an aggregate tonnage of 2,498,968 tons. The retail trade of the place is largely in the hands of Chinese, Indian and Arab traders, but there are some good European stores. The port is a free port, import duties being payable only on opium, wines and spirits.

History.—A tradition is extant to the effect that Singapore was an important trading centre in the 12th and 13th centuries, but neither Marco Polo nor Ibn Batuta, both of whom wintered in Sumatra on their way back to Europe from China, have left anything on record confirmatory of this. It is said to have been attacked and devastated by the Javanese in 1252, and at the time when it passed by treaty to the East India Company in 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles persuading the sultan and tumenggong of Johor to cede it to him, it was wholly uninhabited save by a few fisherfolk living along its shores. It was at first subordinate to Benkulen, the company’s principal station in Sumatra, but in 1823 it was placed under the administration of Bengal. It was incorporated in the colony of the Straits Settlements when that colony was established in 1826.

See Life of Sir Stamford Raffles; Logan’s Journal of the Malay Archipelago; the Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Singapore); Sir Frank Swettenham, British Malaya (London, 1906); Blue-Book of the Straits Settlements (1906); The Straits Directory, 1908 (Singapore, 1908). (H. Cl.)