Singapore is the most advanced economy among the Southeast Asian countries with a GDP per capita of US$25,207 in 2004 which will be comparable to many advanced economies in the European Union. Singapore lacks natural resources but is a regional hub for international trade, shipping and air transport. Many US, European and Japanese multinational companies have established Singapore as a regional office for their business operations.
Singapore's GDP grew at typically 2.7% annually from TMW Maxwell Showflat to reach US$106.9 billion by 2004 while inflation remaining below 2.0%. Though Singapore's economy is the absolute most advanced among the Southeast Asian countries, unemployment increased from 1.8% during the Asian economic crisis of 1997 to 5.3% in 2004. To diversify and expand the country's economy, the government is developing Singapore into a regional hub for finance and high technology.
The service sector accounted for 66.2% of Singapore's GDP in 2004 as the manufacturing sector accounted for 33.7%. Agriculture plays a minor role in Singapore's economy and accounted only 0.1% of the country's GDP. Major industries in Singapore include electronics, chemicals, financial services, petroleum refining, food processing, ship repair, offshore platform construction, biotechnology and entrepot trade.
DEMOGRAPHY. Singapore's population of 4.2 million in 2004 is predominantly Chinese accounting for 77% of the population. Other ethnic communities include Malays (14%) and Indians (8%). Major religions practiced include Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The Chinese are often agnostic, Buddhist, Tao or follow the Christian faith while Malays are generally Muslims and Indians generally Hindus, Christian or Muslims. Main languages used are English (widely spoken and used in business and by the government), Chinese (mainly Mandarin and Hokkien), Malay and Tamil.
Singapore is a city-state and therefore almost all its population are now living in an urban community. Most Singaporeans are now living in high-rise apartments or flats accounting for almost 90% of the households while the residual 10% survive landed property.
Singaporean consumers have the advanced of disposable income compared to consumers in other Southeast Asian countries. High-income households take into account nearly 27% of the total households while middle-income households account for 32%. Low-income households i.e. those earning than US$1,900 monthly take into account 41% of the sum total households.
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