By mid-April, fewer people were visiting the country, and hotel occupancy rates plummeted, along with revenues at shops and restaurants. Taxi drivers reported fewer fares. The unemployment rate ticked up. Officials slashed the country's economic growth forecast for 2003, from a strong percent to a possible percent. When the full effects of the outbreak were finally measured, the economy had actually contracted percent from the same time the previous year. The SARS outbreak reminded Singaporeans that their national prosperity could be imperiled in just a few months by a microscopic invader that might wipe out a significant portion of the densely packed island's population.
The Republic of Singapore, the second smallest country in Asia, consists of Singapore Island and several smaller adjacent islets. Situated in the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore has an area of 693 sq km (268 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Singapore is slightly more than times the size of Washington, . Singapore Island extends km (26 mi) ENE – WSW and km (14 mi) SSE – NNW and has a coastline of 193 km (120 mi), including about 84 km (52 mi) along the water channel between the island and the Malay Peninsula. Singapore is connected to the nearby western portion of Malaysia by a causeway 1,056 m (3,465 ft) in length across the narrow Johore Strait. Singapore's position at the eastern end of the Strait of Malacca, which separates western Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, has given it economic and strategic importance out of proportion to its small size. Singapore's capital city, Singapore, is located on the country's southern coast.
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