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Singapore

Asia

To which language should you translate to localize in Singapore?


Introduction


Language

Official language
English, Mandarin, Tamil, and Malay.

T-index
0.25%

T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales.

English
Very high proficiency (EF) – 4 of 112 countries/regions in the world- 1/24 position in Asia.

Most studied languages
Mandarin (for non-Chinese), Malay (for non-Malays), Indonesian (for non-Malays), Arabic, Japanese (only for Chinese), French and German

Conventions

Numbering system
Arabic numbering system, point as decimal separator and comma as separator of thousands.

Date format: yyyy-mm-dd / dd-mm-yyyy
Time: 24h time system
Country code: 0065

Demography

Capital: Singapore
Currency: Singapore dollar
Population: 5,45 milion
Population density: 8/ km2

Economy

GDP: 396.99 billion USD (2020)
GDP per capita: 72,794.0USD ‎(2020) ‎
Exports: $281 billion (2020)

Statistics

Internet users:  92% penetration, 5.45 million
Unemployment rate: 3.5% (2021)
Literacy: 97.05 % (2018)


Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal


The new 2021 T-index

The new 2021 T-index

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Facts and data


Economy

Imports
$301 billion (2020).   Integrated Circuits ($51.1B), Refined Petroleum ($30.2B), Gold ($20.6B), Crude Petroleum ($13B), and Gas Turbines ($8.7B), importing mostly from China ($54B), Malaysia ($36.5B), United States ($25.9B), Chinese Taipei ($24.9B), and Japan ($15.8B).

Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of  age)
• 98% have an account with a financial institution
• 49% have a credit card
• 9.5% have a mobile money account
• 57% make online purchases

Ease of doing business
Very Easy to conduct business (86.2 out of 100) 1st out of 25 East Asia-Pacific countries, 2nd worldwide out of 190 countries (2019, World Bank)

Global Innovation Index

Ranked 2rd out of 17 South East Asia, East Asia and Oceania countries, 8th out of 132 worldwide.

The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.

Exports
$281 billion (2020).  Integrated Circuits ($62.7B), Refined Petroleum ($27B), Gold ($11.4B), Packaged Medicaments ($9.9B), and Gas Turbines ($9.24B), exporting mostly to China ($42.9B), Hong Kong ($41.7B), United States ($27.6B), Malaysia ($22.9B), and Indonesia ($14.8B).

Main local online stores
Shopee, Lazada, Amazon, Qoo10, EZuBy, eBay, Zalora, Courts Singapore, Castlery, Love, Bonito

Economic freedom
‘Free’ (84.4 out of 100) 1st out of 45 countries in Asia Pacific and 1st worldwide out of 186 countries (2021, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal)


Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal


Service Imports (2018)

Source: OEC


Service Exports (2018)

Source: OEC


Most complex products by PCI Index

Product Complexity Index measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters

Source: OEC


Most specialised products by RCA Index

Specialisation is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage, an index that takes the ratio between Singapore observed and expected exports in each product

Source: OEC


Export Opportunities by Relatedness

Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product, the barchart show only products that Singapore is not specialized in

Source: OEC


Top 10 e-commerce sites in Singapore as of third quarter of 2019, by monthly traffic (in million clicks)

Sources: SimilarWeb; iPrice Group


Distribution of e-commerce payment methods in Singapore in 2019

Source: WorldPay


Media

Media main languages Mandarin, Malay and Indian, English

Information channels
Singapore’s media are highly developed and tightly controlled. There are two major players. Singapore Press Holdings is linked to the ruling party and has a near-monopoly of the press. MediaCorp, owned by a state investment agency, runs TV and radio stations. Both companies have extended their dominance to include online media, says Reuters Institute. Media have incurred harsh criminal penalties for “speech deemed to be seditious, defamatory, or injurious to religious sensitivities”, says Freedom House. Newspapers occasionally publish critical content, although news coverage is generally pro-government. Reporters Without Borders says the range of issues and public figures that are off limits for media coverage is growing and that self-censorship is widespread.

The press

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) – publishes multiple newspapers, magazines, websites
The Straits Times – published by SPH
Business Times – published by SPH
Today – published by Mediacorp

Television

MediaCorp – operates entertainment-based Channel 5 and Channel 8, Malay channel Suria, Mandarin-language Channel U
Channel NewsAsia – news TV operated by MediaCorp

Radio

MediaCorp – operates more than a dozen stations including English-language news and talk station 938Live, music stations and Chinese, Malay and Indian services
SPH – operates English-language One FM and Kiss 92, Mandarin station UFM

News agency

Press Trust of India (PTI) -non-profit, owned by Asian News International (ANI) – commercial, privately-owned multimedia news agency
Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) – privately-owned newswire


Media data source: BBC


Internet Data

Internet users
92% penetration, 5.45 million

Share of web traffic by device
66.81% mobile phones, 30.09% computers (laptops and desktops), 3.09% tablet devices, others 0.01%

Median speed of mobile Internet connection
63.41 Mbps

Median speed of fixed Internet connection
184.65 Mbps

Mobile connection as a percentage of total population
147%

Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G): 99.2%

Most popular web search engines
Google (96.17%), Yahoo (1.82%), Bing (1.26%), Baidu (0.28%), Duckduckgo (0.24%), Ecosia (0.07%) 

Most used social media
Facebook (62.56%), Twitter (19.54%),  Pinterest (7.59%),  Instagram (5.45%), YouTube (3.29%), Tumblr (0.61%)


Internet data sources: Datareportal/Statcounter


Social statistics

Life expectancy
82.9 yrs (2017)

Average age of the population
42.2 yrs (2020) 

Healthcare expenditure
4.47% of GDP (2016)

Cultural Curiosities
Singapore is home to three main ethnicities: Chinese, Malay and Indian. As in other Asian countries, the concept of “face” – relating to a person’s reputation, influence, dignity and honour –  is central to Singaporean culture. “Have you eaten?” is a very common greeting in Singapore: don’t be confused, it’s the equivalent of “How’s it going?”. 


Resident population in Singapore as of June 2019, by ethnic group (population in thousands)

Department of Statics Singapore


Multi-language literacy had become more prevalent

Department of Statics Singapore


Highest qualification attained

(of residents aged 25 years and over)

Department of Statics Singapore


Chinese: Literate resident population aged 15 and over by ethnic group and language literate in

Department of Statics Singapore


Malays: Literate resident population aged 15 and over by ethnic group and language literate in

Department of Statics Singapore


Indians: Literate resident population aged 15 and over by ethnic group and language literate in

Department of Statics Singapore


The Data Factbook is a work in progress project. Our community is helping us to fill it up always with new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write your advices at imminent@translated.com


Languages research


Languages spoken in Singapore

English as a first language – but it is significant how important the second language is to safeguard asian cultural identities.

Singapore has a bilingual education policy, where all students in government schools are taught English as their first language. Students in Primary and Secondary schools also learn a second language called their “Mother Tongue” by the Ministry of Education, where they are either taught Mandarin, Malay, or Tamil. English is the main language of instruction for most subjects, while Mother Tongue is used in Mother Tongue lessons and moral education classes. This is because Singapore’s “bilingualism” policy of teaching and learning English and Mother Tongue in primary and secondary schools is viewed as a “cultural ballast” to safeguard Asian cultural identities and values against Western influence


Chinese: Proportion of resident population aged 15 and over who spoke English most frequently at home, by ethnic group and highest qualification attained

Department of Statics Singapore


Malays: Proportion of resident population aged 15 and over who spoke English most frequently at home, by ethnic group and highest qualification attained

Department of Statics Singapore


Indians: Proportion of resident population aged 15 and over who spoke English most frequently at home, by ethnic group and highest qualification attained

Department of Statics Singapore


Chinese: Resident population aged five years and over by ethnic group and language most frequently spoken at home

Department of Statics Singapore


Malays: Resident population aged five years and over by ethnic group and language most frequently spoken at home

Department of Statics Singapore


Indians: Resident population aged five years and over by ethnic group and language most frequently spoken at home

Department of Statics Singapore


Non residents in Singapore

In 2019, work-permit holders and foreign domestic workers comprised 56% (or about 941,000) of the 1.68 million non-residents in Singapore. Singapore continues to have a strong demand for low-wage migrant workers, and their numbers will likely remain substantial in the years to come. It is necessary to work resolutely towards enhancing the working and living conditions of migrant workers who suffer deplorable hygiene conditions and overcrowding in the foreign workers’ dormitories. The foreign workers live in Singapore’s dormitories, where 10 to 20 men are often packed into a single room. These utilitarian complexes on the city-state’s periphery have become hives of infection, revealing a blind spot in Singapore’s previously vaunted coronavirus response. As of April 28, these dorms were home to 85% of Singapore’s 14,951 cases.

The term Foreign worker refers to semi-skilled or unskilled immigrants who work primarily in the manufacturing, construction, and domestic services sectors. Most of them come from places such as the People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Thailand, under bilateral agreements between Singapore and these countries. 

Foreign Talents refers to foreigners with professional qualifications or acceptable degrees who work at the highest end of Singapore’s economy. They mostly come from India, Australia, the Philippines, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Europe, New Zealand and the United States.

Non Residents composition in Singapore

The stability of society is rooted in the confucian mentality and it hinders the improvement of social conditions and the achievement of

Power distance and Individualism Index, Singapore

Hofstede insight


Chinese and Indian Singaporeans are generally regarded as business-savvy ethnic groups as they tend to be profit-oriented, dominating the political and economic facets of society. The Malay population is often considered to be less economically competitive and more content with making ends meet.

The power distance dimension addresses the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these social inequalities. Power Distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.

Singapore scores high on this dimension (rating  of 74). With a Confucian background (the Chinese), they normally have a syncretic approach to religion, which is also the dominant approach in Singapore. One of the key principles of Confucian teaching is the stability of society, which is based on unequal relationships between people. Confucius distinguished five basic relationships: ruler-subject; father-son; older brother-younger brother; husband-wife; and senior friend-junior friend. These relationships are based on mutual and complementary obligations. Here we can see the high PDI as a consequence.

Power is centralised and managers rely on their bosses and on rules. Employees expect to be told what to do. Control is expected and attitude towards managers is formal. Communication is indirect and the information flow is selective. We can see the high PDI also in the first of the government’s defined five “shared values”: Nation before community and society above self.

INDIVIDUALISM 

Singapore, with a score of 20 is a collectivistic society. This means that the “We factor” is important, people belong to in-groups (families, clans or organisations) who look after each other in exchange for loyalty. Here we can also see the second key principle of the Confucian teaching: The family is the prototype of all social organisations. A person is not primarily an individual; rather, he or she is a member of a family. 


The geographical distribution of languages that you will find in the maps published in this section is a work in progress. Our community is helping us to fill it up with always new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write to imminent.factbook@translated.com


Photo credit: Victor, Unsplash