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Singapore's Geography

 


The Land

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Singapore is an equatorial country, consisting of one main island and some 63 offshore islands.  Her uniform temperature and abundant rainfall give rise to the rich flora and fauna that typify a tropical island.

Singapore is located between latitudes 1o09'N and 1o29'N and longitudes 103o36'E and 104o25'E, approximately 137 kilometers north of the Equator.

The main island of Singapore is about 42 km from east to west and 23 km from north to south.  The total land area (including that of the smaller islands) is 697.1 square km.  The main island is 617.1 square km.

Among off shore islands, the larger ones are Pulau Teking (2365. hectares), Pulau Ubin (1023.9 hectares) and Sentosa (460 hectares).

Climate

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Singapore has an equatorial climate, which is warm and humid all year round.  Rain is felt throughout the year.  Singapore experiences two distinct monsoon seasons - the wetter Northeast Monsoon season from December to March and the drier Southwest Monsoon season from June to September.  During the inter-monsoon months, winds are light and variable with afternoon to early evening showers, often accompanied by thunder.

Weather information is available at www.nea.gov.sg

Geology

Granite occurs in two separate masses.  The larger one is found in the central and northern areas, he smaller one in parts of the northeast.  Granite or igneous rocks underlie the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Area in the center of the island.

The sedimentary rocks of the Jurong Formations skirt the central granite and form extensive areas in souther, southwestern and western Singapore.  These variations of conglomerate, sandstone and shale are also found on the islands to the south and west.

The semi-hardened Old Alluvium in the east was deposited by an ancient river system, probably in the Pleistocene epoch, during a low stand of the sea.  It masks older rocks beneath.

Topography

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Much of the island lies within 15 meters of sea level.  The area of igneous rocks in the center of the island forms rounded hills and gentle spurs and valleys, over which rise the peaks of Bukit Timah (Singapore's highest point at 163 meters), Bukit Gombak (139 meters), Bukit Panjang (132 meters) and Bukit Batok (106 meters).  To the west and southwest of the island, the sedimentary rocks give rise to a series of narrow ridges, including that of Pasir Laba, Pasir Panjang, and Mount Faber.

The coast if flat, but in a few places, cliffs come down to the sea.  Considerable stretches of the coastline are not natural formations = having been significantly modified by reclamation work, the building of embankments and swamp clearance. 

Singapore is drained by a number of small streams.  The largest of these, Sungei Seletar, is about 15 kilometers long.  The Singapore River is 3 km long, from Kim Seng Bridge to the river mouth.  The valleys through the built-up areas are now drained by tree-lined concrete channels rather than by natural streams.

Flora and Fauna

 

Singapore was once covered with dense lowland tropical rainforest, with mangrove forests lining the muddy coasts and tidal creeks.  Tigers, wild boars and musangs were common.

As the settlement grew in the 1840's, forest were cut down to cultivate crops such as nutmeg, gamlier, clove, pepper and cocoa.  In 1877, the first rubber trees were successfully planted.  Many endemic plant species, including more than 50 species of mangrove-inhabiting orchids, gradually disappeared with deforestation.  The effect on wildlife, especially large mammals, was more severe.  As the city spread, species of birds more common in urban areas replaced forest and woodland species.

Forest reserves were set up at the turn of the century.  Today, the National Parks Board (NParks) manages nearly 3,000 hectares of Natural Reserves - the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and the Laborador Nature Reserve.

Flora

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Primary Vegetation
Much of the 164-hectare Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and parts of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve harbor primary vegetation.  These are also the only substantial areas of primary rainforest left in Singapore.  The top tier of the primary rainforest canopy comprises tropical hardwoods of the Dipterocarp family, some of which grow to 40 meters.

Of the mangrove forest, about 500 hectares remain along the northern coastline in Kranji, Sungei Loyang and Sungei Tampines near Pasir Ris, in patches in Woodlands and Seletar, and one some of the offshore islands.  Singapore beaches are home to a distinctive flora of grasses, sedges, creepers and trees.  Red seaweeds, green seaweeds and a wide variety of brown seaweeds are also represented along the along the coastal waters.

Secondary Vegetation
Most of Singapore's forested areas are covered with secondary regrowth that regenerate from areas that were cleared for cultivation during the colonial period.  Vegetation in public parks and along roads includes exotic species link Prangipani, Lantana and Bougainvillea.  In fact, many of the trees planted by NParks for shade a beauty are imported species.  Common wayside trees are the Angsana (Pterocarpus indicus), the Rain Tree (Samanea saman), the Yellow Flame (Peltophorum pterocarpum), and the Wild Cinnamon (Cinnamomum iners).

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Fauna

Fauna records for Singapore include about 80 mammal species, over 300 bird species, around 60 freshwater fish species and 110 reptilian and amphibian species, though some are extinct.

Most of the native animals are now confined to the Nature Reserves and the forested areas, including the northern islands of Pulau Ubin and Pulau Teking.  Among the vertebrates of the high canopy are the Flying Lemur (Cynocephalus variegatus) and the Flying Lizard (Draco sp).  More commonly seen are the squirrels (Callosciurus notatus and Sundasciurus tenuis) and the long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis).  The forest floor is the habitat of shrews, rats, snakes, skinks and frogs.  Bat species include the fruit bats, the horseshoe bats, the sheathtailed bats and the false vampires.

Animal life in streams, ponds and reservoirs is dominated by tadpoles, fish (such as species of Rasbora and Puntius), prawms, water bugs, and dragonfly and damselfly nymphs.  Of the seven species of freshwater crabs found, three are endemic.

Along the coast, a variety of mussels, barnacles, snails, crabs, mud-lobsters, prawns and mud-skippers survive well in the brackish water of mangrove swamps.  The other marine and coastal habitats such as coral reefs, rocky shores and sandy beaches also support their own unique ecosystems.

Over 180 species of birds and about 300 species of flora have been recorded in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, an 87-hectare park where mangroves and wetland wildlife thrive.  The disused prawn ponds are now important feeding and roosting sites for migratory shorebirds that visit Singapore from September till March.

On the tip of the Malay Peninsula, about 50 small islands comprise the Republic of Singapore.  The average temperature is 82 degrees F (28 degrees C), with humidity at times over 80 percent thus making it a very muggy climate.  Abundant tropical vegetation is found, and rainfall is experienced year round with the heaviest rainy season from November January.

The main island, only 26 miles long (42 km) and 14 miles wide (23 km), is connected to peninsular Malaysia by a causeway that is 1,100 yards long (1 km).  Originally, the main island was similar in topography to Malaysia, but the forests have since diminished on the island to about 4 percent.  

For over 180 years swamps have been drained and small hills leveled, continuing from 1819 when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles began the process.  

Location:
Southeastern Asia, islands between Malaysia and Indonesia
Geographic coordinates:
1 22 N, 103 48 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
Area:
total: 697 sq km
country comparison to the world: 192
land: 687 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly more than 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
193 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: within and beyond territorial sea, as defined in treaties and practice
Climate:
tropical; hot, humid, rainy; two distinct monsoon seasons - Northeastern monsoon (December to March) and Southwestern monsoon (June to September); inter-monsoon - frequent afternoon and early evening thunderstorms
Terrain:
lowland; gently undulating central plateau contains water catchment area and nature preserve
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Singapore Strait 0 m
highest point: Bukit Timah 166 m
Natural resources:
fish, deepwater ports
Land use:
arable land: 1.47%
permanent crops: 1.47%
other: 97.06% (2005)
Irrigated land:
NA
Total renewable water resources:
0.6 cu km (1975)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.19 cu km/yr (45%/51%/4%)
per capita: 44 cu m/yr (1975)
Natural hazards:
NA
Environment - current issues:
industrial pollution; limited natural freshwater resources; limited land availability presents waste disposal problems; seasonal smoke/haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
focal point for Southeast Asian sea routes

 


 

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