President: Tony Tan
Tan, a former deputy prime minister, won the 2011 presidential election by a narrow margin. He was seen as the establishment candidate.
All four candidates in the election – the first of its kind for 18 years – shared the same surname, Tan.
Presidential candidates run as individuals because Singapore’s head of state is supposed to be non-partisan.
Prime minister: Lee Hsien Loong
The eldest son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong has been in office since August 2004.
A former army officer and Cambridge-educated mathematician, he followed his father into politics in 1984 at the age of 32.
As prime minister, Mr Lee has launched policies to build a competitive economy, introducing new programmes to upgrade the education system, investing in research and development and transforming the city-state.
As the media hub for south-east Asia, Singapore is a strategic centre for the region’s English-speaking audience.
Its tightly-controlled media environment means self-censorship among journalists is common. There are also curbs on online content.
Some key dates in Singapore’s history:
1819 – Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles establishes Singapore as a trading post for the British East India Company.
1942 – Singapore falls to Japan during Second World War. The island is renamed Syonan-to or “Light of the South Island” in Japanese.
1945-46 – Japanese forces surrender. Singapore becomes a British colony.
1959 – Singapore holds first general election.
1963 – Singapore joins the Federation of Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo) and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia.
1965 – Declares independence from the Federation of Malaysia.
1990 – Singapore’s founding father Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew stands down after 31 years.
1993 – Singapore holds its first presidential election.