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It is both a city and a sovereign state, at the same time consisting of one main island, 3 larger islands and 58 smaller islands  – this makes it a fascinating port to study in all respects. Here we share 10 fast facts with you about the Port of Singapore

Aerial panorama of the Singapore Strait and the Pasir Panjang Port Terminal. Shot in 2016.
  1. The Port of Singaporeis one of the biggest ports in the world and it refers to the collective facilities and terminals that conduct maritime trade, and which handle Singapore‘s harbours and shipping. Singapore is currently the world’s second-busiest port in terms of total shipping tonnage
  2. When Singapore existed in the 3rd Century (that’s correct, over 1700 years ago!) it was known as Temasek. The island was at that time an outpost of the Srivijaya Empire and the word is Javanese. The origin of the name Temasek is uncertain, but it has been proposed that it was derived from the Malay word tasik meaning “lake” or “sea”, and may mean here “place surrounded by the sea”
  3. In 1824, the British East India Company bought the entire island and continuously developed it into a trading base, and it became the administrative capital of British Malaysia. This is of course, easy to say in one sentence, but belies the complexities of the purchase at the time. One can read this interesting history online here
  4. Singapore ceased being part of the British Empire when it merged with Malaysia in 1963.. It further came to full independence in 1965 and since then has had to compete with other ports in the region to attract shipping and trade. The result is an export oriented economy based on value-added manufacturing. They buy in raw or partially manufactured goods, add value to them, then export them back to the same markets, through market access agreements such as World Trade Organization directives and free trade agreements.
  5. As a result of their independence, some trading ceased with their Malaysian neighbours and by the 1980s, maritime trading activity was reduced to mainly passenger transport.. Keppel Harbour thus became the now home to three container terminals. Other terminals were built in Jurong and Pasir Panjang as well as in Sembawang in the north.
  6. Today, the port operations in Singapore are handled by two players: PSA International(formerly the Port of Singapore Authority) and Jurong Port.
  7. Singapore is the Southernmost point of the Asian continent, and it may surprise you that it lies almost on the equator, at 1 Deg Latitude North, giving it a typically tropical climate with abundant rainfall.
  8. The policy of the state of Singapore stands for free trade. It is a member of the ASEAN free trade zone and has also signed corresponding agreements with the EFTA states as well as India, Japan, Australia, China, South Korea, Taiwan and others.
  9. Over 130,000 ship pass through Singapore each year, with about 1000 ships always being handled at the same time. The quay at Singapore’s largest port is 15.5 kilometers long with 52 berths for container ships and 190 cranes. There is an additional 5.6km and a further 32 berths in Jurong.
  10. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is constructing a high-tech port at Tuas Port in Singapore, where PSA Singapore will be the sole operator. It is expected to be fully operational by 2040 and handle 65 million twenty-foot cargo units a year.  This Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM)  aims to grow the industry’s value-add by $4.5 billion and create more than 5,000 new jobs by 2025.  Nelson Quek, PSA Singapore’s head of Tuas planning stated that “Tuas, when it’s fully developed, is going to be the single largest fully-automated terminal in the world”.


Port of Singapore Circa 1890:
Leiden University Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


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