|City-state Singapore South-East-Asia's economic centre 1980/2007 |
Around the year 1819, only some 150 Malayans and a few Chinese were living in the small fishing village of Wa Hakim. On the same site today is the South-East Asian trading metropolis of Singapore with 3.6 million inhabitants (2006) and the largest port in the world.
Problems of Urban Development
The explosive growth of the city, which led to socio-economic problems especially in those districts with a large Chinese population, already began in colonial times. The rapid population growth expressed itself initially in the increasing emergence of slums. After the Second World War there was a population density of between 75,000 and 250,000 inhabitants per square kilometre in the city centre. The dominant problems at the time when Singapore achieved internal autonomy in 1959 were the lack of infrastructure and high unemployment.
Economic, urban and land redevelopment plans, aimed at achieving a western-oriented industrialized society at the expense of traditional structures, were introduced from 1961 onwards with the creation of the Jurong Industrial Estate in the swampy south-western district of the main island. Here, some 1,700 firms with a total of 115,000 employees have settled in a site covering 6,000 hectares. Supply bases for offshore industries in South-East Asia became established in the port district. The foundations were thus laid for a favourable investment climate. The industrial boom started a chain reaction in the service sector, manifested in the development of the city into a banking centre and a favoured location for insurance and trading companies. At the same time the tourist industry has been experiencing a boom for years: in 1999 Singapore recorded 7 million visitors, and in 2004 as many as 8.3 million arrivals were registered.
The initially excessive population density, and the associated development of slums in the city centre, led to decentralization and a radical reconstruction of the city from the 1960s onwards. Queenstown was one of the first satellite towns near the centre, where modern housing blocks were constructed with many small apartments for low-income families. The planners solved the problems of increasing commuter traffic, on the one hand by improvements in mass transit systems, and on the other hand by locating service, supply and social centres in the new towns. In recent times the economic position of the satellite towns has been promoted by means of facilities such as industrial parks.
Despite occasional tendencies to recession within the region, and especially the Asian crisis at the end of the 1990s, Singapore has been able to extend its locational advantages still further. Thanks to numerous universities and a science park, the city-state has very high research and education levels; it possesses the most modern and best developed communication system in the entire region; with Changi Airport and the international port the busiest transhipment port in the world it is the most important transport hub between Europe, East and South-East Asia, and Australia; it attracts well-to-do consumers from all over the world with its many modern shopping centres, and not least it is situated at the heart of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Singapore is very closely networked with the neighbouring regions of Indonesia and Malaysia, where many industrial production sites are located.
Also apparent in Singapore at the same time is the increasing importance of the service sector. The rapid growth in the number of jobs in the tertiary sector (compare the diagram in the map), which has significantly exceeded growth in manufacturing industry, confirms this trend which can also be observed at the international level.
K. Friedrich; Ü: J. Attfield
Keywords: area diagram economy land reclamation landfill site cable railway chair lift city city-state employment global city main economic centre new town petrochemicals pie chart population structure sector Singapore
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