Singapore, Land and Resources
The total area of Singapore, including the main island and all the islets, is 648 sq km (250 sq mi). From north to south Singapore Island, the main island, extends 22 km (14 mi), and its greatest east-west extent is 50 km (31 mi). The larger islets, which all have small fishing villages, include Tekong, Ubin, and Sentosa. Singapore Island is low-lying with no prominent relief features. A central area of hills rises to a maximum elevation of 176 m (577 ft) at Bukit Timah. Numerous short streams, including the Singapore River, drain the island.
Because Singapore lies just north of the equator, the wet tropical climate has no clearly defined seasons. The average annual temperature is 27°C (81°F) and the average annual rainfall is 2,400 mm (95 in). Although rainfall is abundant throughout the year, November through January are the wettest months.
More than half the island is built up. Jungles and swamps once covered Singapore, but most of these have been removed for residential, industrial, and, to a lesser extent, agricultural use. A small area of the central hills retains its natural jungle cover, in which mouse deer, porcupines, flying foxes, and flying lizards live. Since the early 1960s, land reclamation projects have been replacing Singapore’s once expansive mangrove forests, which grow in shallow or muddy saltwater. One example is Jurong, an industrial estate that lies on reclaimed land to the west of the central business district. The reclamation projects have added about 10 percent of new land to the nation’s total area. Soils are relatively infertile, and clays and sand are the only mineral resources. Coral reefs are found in some coastal areas.
Although Singapore has numerous short streams and several reservoirs, the country lacks sufficient fresh water. About half its water must be imported from Malaysia through an aqueduct that runs under the causeway linking Singapore and Johor Baharu. Rapid economic and industrial growth and the rapid rise in vehicle ownership have increased air and water pollution. Closely regulated government controls on emissions, effluents, and other wastes have done much to alleviate these problems, however.