Singapore

The Republic of Singapore is an island country off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in south-east Asia. To the north is Malaysia from which Singapore is separated by the Straits of Johor and to the south are Indonesia's Riau Islands with the Singapore Strait in between.

A long-developed city-state, Singapore is one of the world's leading financial centres and strategically important ports, playing a key role in international trade and finance. Despite its tiny size, the island country is among the wealthiest in the world in terms of GDP per capita.

With a population of nearly five million consisting of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Caucasians, Singapore is the world's second most densely populated state second only to Monaco. English is the dominant language spoken by the majority of people with Malay, Chinese (Mandarin) and Tamil also among the four official languages recognised by the government. An international port and trade centre, its percentage of foreigners is evident, with the expatriate workforce making up half of the country's service sector.

The diversity of the make-up of the population is well reflected in Singaporean culture, which has been depicted as a mix of cultures. Understandably, Singaporean cuisine is no exception, with each ethnic group of people adding flavours and colours with their own traditional cuisine – British, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Tamil and Indonesian etc.

A typically tropical rainforest climate, Singapore has no distinctive seasons, with the temperatures ranging from 22 to 34 degrees centigrade. The hottest months are May and June while November and December make up the monsoon season. With abundant rainfall, the average humidity is around 90 % in the morning and 60% in the afternoon. More than a quarter of its land consists of forests and nature reserves. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is the only remaining area of primary rainforest.

An economically dynamic country, Singapore is among the four ‘Asian Tigers’ alongside Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea Republic. The Port of Singapore is one of the busiest in the world. Exports and refining dominate its economy with manufacturing constituting a quarter of the country's GDP. It is the world's fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre after London, New York and Tokyo. Tourism also contributes significantly to the local economy with millions of visitors each year.

Football is the number one sport in Singapore despite the fact that the country boasts world-class players in the likes of table tennis and badminton. They may never have represented Asia at the FIFA World Cup and have appeared in the continental finals only once – as hosts of the 1984 AFC Asian Cup – but they are indeed a dominant force in the region, having won three of the seven editions of the AFF Suzuki Cup (previously known as the Tiger Cup). Under Serbian manager Raddy Avramovic, the national team have made breakthroughs over the past years, reaching Asia's third round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ for the very first time only to bow out after finishing behind the likes of Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

The nation’s footballing authorities have embarked on building their national competition over the past decade, making the Singaporean League (S League) one of the best run in Asia. Dominating the domestic scene are Singapore Armed Forces FC, who have won eight league titles and have twice represented the nation in Asia’s flagship competition, the AFC Champions League.