Singapore: Singapore dissolved its parliament on Tuesday, clearing the way for a snap election on September 11.
The People`s Action Party (PAP) -- which has dominated politics since colonial ruler Britain introduced self-rule in 1959 -- is expected to be returned to power against a fragmented opposition.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the son of late independence leader Lee Kuan Yew, has been in power for 11 years and is seeking a fresh mandate amid a slowing economy.
Here are some key facts:
- GEOGRAPHY: The island state lies between Indonesia and Malaysia.
- AREA: 718.3 square kilometres (287.3 square miles).
- POPULATION: 5.47 million as of June 2015, including 530,000 permanent residents and 1.6 million foreigners on work visas along with their families.
- RELIGIONS: Buddhism and Taoism (44.20 percent), Christianity (18.3 percent), Islam (14.7 percent) and Hinduism (5.1 percent), based on 2010 data.
- HISTORY: Became a British trading colony in 1819 and originally populated by ethnic Malays, Singapore drew impoverished immigrants from the region, particularly China and India. It became a republic in 1965 after being ejected from the Malaysian federation. Singapore celebrated its 50th year of independence on August 9 this year. Founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23 aged 91 and was given a hero`s funeral.
- POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS: Parliamentary democracy modelled on the Westminster system. Members are elected in single-seat and multiple-seat constituencies for five-year terms. The largely ceremonial President is directly elected every five years.
- 2011 ELECTIONS: The PAP was returned to power but suffered its lowest ever share of the vote at 60 percent. It also lost a key district when a five-member team from the opposition Workers` Party defeated a top-level PAP lineup. The PAP went on to lose two single-seat wards in by-elections, giving the opposition seven seats in the 87-member parliament -- which will be expanded to 89 seats.
- RIGHTS AND FREEDOM: Human rights groups criticise Singapore for tough laws against dissent and other political activity, and for retaining capital punishment. Mainstream media remain under government control but the emergence of social media has led to a freer flow of information and strident criticism of the PAP. Defamation suits have been used against government critics.
- ECONOMY: Due to its small size and lack of natural resources, the economy is highly dependent on external trade. Singapore has forged a network of free-trade agreements with major partners. Manufacturing accounts for about a quarter of GDP, with pharmaceuticals, tourism -- boosted by two huge casino resorts -- and financial services being the other growth drivers.
- GDP: Sg$390.09 billion (US$278 billion) in 2014, based on government data.
- GDP PER CAPITA at current market prices: Sg$71,318 (US$56,284) in 2014 based on government data.
- CURRENCY: Singapore dollar (US dollar = 1.4 Singapore dollars)
- MILITARY: Singapore has a conscript-based military, which is among the best-equipped in Asia. All able-bodied male citizens and permanent residents aged 18 and above must undergo two years of military training.