July 11th, 2012
04:06 PM GMT
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Editor’s note: Outlook is CNN's in-depth look at business climates around the world. To August 12, 2012, we’re focusing on Singapore.

Singapore (CNN ) – At less than 700 square kilometers and fewer than 6 million people, the city-state of Singapore may be one of Asia’s smallest countries, yet its economic influence far outstrips its size. Next week, CNN will be focusing on Singapore for a special week of coverage in this blog and on TV.

The country is a global hub for exports, a financial capital and an increasingly popular tourism destination. Its GDP per capita, nearly $50,000, is one of the world’s highest, on par with the most developed countries in Europe.

That’s quite an achievement for what was a poor, undeveloped British colony just 50 years ago. The per capita GDP in 1961 was just $1,136. Author Michael Schuman writes in his book “The Miracle,” that “Singapore’s transformation from down-and-out tropical outpost to vibrant metropolis of international stature is one of the great tales of the [Asian Economic] Miracle.”

A lot of that is thanks to foreign investment and the export-driven growth spearheaded by the nation’s first leader, Lee Kuan Yew. He also introduced the strict legal structure, censorship and paternalistic government which has also earned Singapore its share of criticism. Singapore is a democracy, but a heavily authoritarian one. It ranks 135 of 179 countries on Reporters without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.

Lee’s son, Lee Hsien Loong, is now Prime Minister, and governs a country that’s trying to diversify its economy beyond exports. Singapore has had great success developing as a center for biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Last year, Singapore opened not one, but two major casino resorts – the Marina Bay Sand and Resorts World Sentosa. The city’s nightlife, once derided as mundane, is now picking up as well and money is being invested in developing new public spaces and artistic centers. Still some complain the censorship has restrained its ability to grow into a true artistic and cultural leader for the world.

Beyond the economics, Singapore is defined by its diversity. The city is composed of Malay, Chinese and Indian residents, with a large number of expatriates thrown in; it has four official languages. The much-celebrated cuisine blends all these influences into everything from excellent hawker food to cutting-edge five-star restaurants.

CNN’s Outlook series often carries sponsorship originating from the countries we feature. However CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reporting.



soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. medhat

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    July 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  2. Miray

    AnnDuh, of course it mtarets. First you have the mixing of cultures which can be an absolute nightmare and absolutely hilarious. People in Asian, African, White, etc. have different meanings behind what they say and do and different expectations for their relationships. This can pose challenges for even the most loving of relationships. There are other issues, but there's no reason to go into them bc. . . .Race mtarets just like other issues matter such as how each individual approaches finances, how they express and receive love, physical handicaps, crazy in-laws, or how important their careers are vs. family life. These are BIG issues with potential negative effects if they aren't handled well, but they aren't relationship breakers unless they're that important to you or someone is being too prideful or selfish.So my parents had a biracial marriage and it went bust, and I have a mixed (very mixed) marriage which is simply awesome. Like everything else in life it's not so much the challenges you face as how you handle those challenges that brings about your happily ever after.

    September 5, 2012 at 4:06 am |
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    November 3, 2012 at 8:38 am |
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    November 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm |

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