Singapore, a British dependency in Asia, the most important of the Straits Settlements (q.v.), consists of the island of Singapore (27 miles long, 14 broad; area, 206 sq. m.), separated from the southern extremity of the Malay Peninsula by a strait only half a mile wide at its narrowest, and of a great number of very small islands along its shores. The surface is undulating, the highest point reaching 520 feet only. The climate is hot and moist, but the soil is not particularly fertile; nevertheless the island is perpetually clothed with verdure, and yields good crops of coffee, pine-apples, cocoa-nuts, aloes, and every kind of fruit. This island was purchased in 1824 from the sultan of Johore. Pop. of island (1881) 172,993; (1901) 228,555, consisting more largely of Chinese than of Malays and Hindus.
The capital, Singapore(Sansk. Sinhapura, 'Lion City'), occupies a fine site on the SE. coast, little more than 1 N. of the equator, on the Strait of Singapore, the principal waterway for vessels trading between eastern Asia and India and Europe. This city was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 as an emporium for British trade in the East Indies, and it has grown to be the most important trading-place in the south-east of Asia. Singapore is a picturesque, well-built town, with fine public buildings. It possesses a governor's residence, St Andrew's Protestant cathedral (1861-70), a Roman Catholic cathedral, Mohammedan mosques, Hindu temples, Chinese joss-houses, Raffles' museum (1823), the supreme law-courts, post-office (1883), hospitals, jail, barracks, and fine botanical and zoological gardens. It is defended by numerous batteries and forts, and is a naval coaling station and depot. The docks, stores, and dwelling-houses extend for 6 miles or more along the sea-front. The harbour is spacious and safe, and remarkably easy of access, with two graving-docks and an admiralty dock. The imports (£33,500,000) are mainly European manufactures, the exports (£22,500,000) the products of the East. Pop. (1824) 10,603; (1850) 50,000; (1901) 195,000.