Today considered one of South East Asia’s economic success stories, the island which is now known as Singapore has a long history of trade – certainly Chinese merchants were visiting many centuries before the arrival of the first European colonists. Details are sketchy, although we do know that at various times the island fell under the influence of competing kingdoms based in what are now Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Portuguese arrived in the region early in the 16th century, taking Melaka (on west coast of the peninsula) as their trading port. The Dutch followed, as did the British, and it was the latter nation which took an interest in Singapore following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1818.
Under plans drawn up by Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore was to be turned into a major port alongside Melaka and Penang (also on the Malaysian peninsula) – both of which were by then under British control. Although he spent little time in the city, his decisions – such as dividing the city along ethnic lines – were crucial to its development.
Under the British, Chinese and Indian immigrants flocked to Singapore. Living conditions were often dreadful, but there was money to be made and the city became known for a work ethic which is evident to this day. As in the other Straits Settlements, Melaka and Penang, a mixed-ancestry community (known as Peranakan) arose after Chinese men married with local women.
WWII saw disaster befall the city, which fell to the Japanese army much to the dismay of Singapore’s colonial rulers. Conditions under the occupation were harsh, for POWs and civilians alike; thousands of Chinese inhabitants were executed.
After the Japanese surrender, British rule was re-established but the colonial rulers had been shown to be vulnerable. Singapore achieved independence in 1963, initially as part of the Malay Federation but relations with Malaysia were poor and Singapore was expelled in 1965.
Under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, who was prime minister from 1959 to 1990 and whose son currently holds the post, the country attracted foreign investment and its economy prospered. The cost of this, however, was the development of a single party political system and a clampdown on dissent; to this day the media suffers a high degree of state control and Singapore has a reputation as a prosperous but rather antiseptic and pettily repressive city-state. In the last few years there has been pressure to relax some of the laws in question, to which the Government has responded in part. Although statistics relating to capital punishment are not released, it is believed that the number of executions has fallen significantly from a high of around 50 per year in the mid-1990s.
In recent years Singapore has taken a more active role in regional affairs, mainly through the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN). This former anti-Communist bloc is now adopting a more wide-ranging role in diplomatic, economic and – since the Bali bomb attacks in 2002 – security affairs. There has been some improvement in relations between Singapore and Malaysia, between whom there are myriad disputes about matters such as access to air space, water resources and territorial boundaries. This thawing of relations has been reflected in the creation of Iskandar Malaysia, a joint project to develop the southern portion of the peninsular around Johor Bahru.
Singaporean people refers to people whom are citizens or identify with the city-state of Singapore. Singapore is a multi-racial and multi-cultural country, with Chinese, Malays and Indians historically making up the majority of the population. The vast majority of Singaporeans descend from the people of China, India and the Malay Archipelago. In 1819, the port of Singapore was established by Sir Stamford Raffles, who opened the port to free trade and free immigration on the south coast of the island. Many immigrants from the region settled in Singapore. By 1827, the population of the island was composed of people from various ethnic groups.
According to the 2006 Asia Barometer survey, a majority of Singaporeans identify themselves as “Singaporean”, while a small percentage prefer to identify with their racial group. Currently, the population of Singaporeans stands at 3,343,000 and the population of overseas Singaporeans stands at 212,000.
The island of Singapore is situated off the southern extremity of the Malay Peninsula, separated from the mainland by the Johor Strait which is about 1km (0.8 miles) wide. Causeways run across the strait carrying roads, a railway and water pipes. The main island is mainly flat with only low hills, the highest being Bukit Timah at 166m (545ft). In the northeast of the island, and in the urban district, large areas have been reclaimed, and much of the original jungle and swamp covering the low-lying areas has been cleared. In addition to the main island, the Republic of Singapore includes more than 60 much smaller islands and islets.
Singaporean cuisine is diverse and contains elements derived from several ethnic groups, as a result of its history as a seaport with a large immigrant population. Influences include the cuisines of the native Malays and the largest ethnic group, the Chinese, as well as Indonesian, Indian, Peranakan, and Western traditions (particularly English and Portuguese-influenced Eurasian, known as Kristang). Influences from other regions such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Middle East are also present.
In Singapore, food is viewed as crucial to national identity and a unifying cultural thread. Singaporean literature declares eating a national pastime and food a national obsession. Food is a frequent topic of conversation among Singaporeans. Religious dietary strictures do exist; Muslims do not eat pork and Hindus do not eat beef, and there is also a significant group of vegetarians. People from different communities often eat together, while being mindful of each other’s culture and choosing food that is acceptable for all.
Other than Singaporean cuisine, it is also common in Singapore to find restaurants specialising in cuisine from a great variety of countries around the world.
Singapore is a cosmopolitan society where people live harmoniously and interaction among different races are commonly seen. The pattern of Singapore stems from the inherent cultural diversity of the island. The immigrants of the past have given the place a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences, all of which have intermingled.
Behind the facade of a modern city, these ethnic races are still evident. The areas for the different races, which were designated to them by Sir Stamford Raffles, still remain although the bulk of Singaporeans do think of themselves as Singaporeans, regardless of race or culture. Each still bears its own unique character.
The old streets of Chinatown can still be seen; the Muslim characteristics are still conspicuous in Arab Street; and Little India along Serangoon Road still has its distinct ambience. Furthermore, there are marks of the British colonial influence in the Neo-Classical buildings all around the city.
Each racial group has its own distinctive religion and there are colorful festivals of special significance all year round. Although the festivals are special to certain races, it is nonetheless enjoyed by all.
In Singapore, food is also readily and widely available. There are lots of cuisines to offer. We have, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian and Western, Italian, Peranakan, Spanish, French, Thai and even Fusion. It is very common to savour other culture’s food and some of the food can be very intriguing. Indian food are relatively spicier, whereas Chinese food is less spicier and the Chinese enjoy seafood. Malay cooking uses coconut milk as their main ingredient, that makes their food very tasty.
Singapore’s official languages are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. A patois called Singlish, or Singaporean English is widely spoken. It is the by-product of mixing English, Chinese and Malay syntax and idiom.
When it comes to nightlife in Singapore, the city-state practically transforms itself from an ever-so-efficient business hub to a buzzing network of bars and nightclubs as soon as the sun goes down. Busy executives loosen their ties and kick up their heels in one of the many rocking bars around Clarke Quay, earnest students-by-day let down their hair for some laid-back bar-hopping around Orchard Road, whilst many visitors with only a few days to spare take full advantage of the thriving rooftop bar scene – lapping up the incredible views over the iconic skyline whilst sipping a sumptuous cocktail.
Pubbing and clubbing here is a must if you want to feel the true night-pulse of the Lion City; experience the country only by day and you get just half of the picture. Discover all the best nightlife in Singapore, area-by-area!!
Singapore is one of the busiest port and leading financial centers of the world. Tourism is the major industry and it attracts millions of visitors every year. It is one of cleanest city of the world and a wonderful place to spend your vacation.
Here are the lists of 5 best places to see while you are visiting Singapore:
Sentosa Island is one of the best place to visit in Singapore. It is a recreation theme-park with various fun filled activities. You can easily spend whole day here and it has fun activities for all ages apart from enjoying its scenic beauty. There are various museums, dolphin lagoons, and splendid beaches. It is a good place to enjoy with your family. Stay up till evening to watch “Songs of the Sea.” – this program is really spectacular, not to be missed. Some of the other attractions are Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon, Fort Siloso, Southernmost Point of Continental Asia and The Flying Trapeze.
Singapore Zoo is based on the open zoo concept. Amidst the clean, natural type environment, this rainforest zoo in one of the highly acclaimed place to visit in Singapore. The zoo uses natural barriers for the animals like rock walls, streams, and even separate vegetation according to the species. It is spread in more than 28 hectares of land -internationally reputed for its conservation initiatives and breeding programmes. This is must to see destination when you are travelling with kids.
Singapore Night Safari
Singapore Night Safari is another best place to enjoy the animals in their natural habitat. It is the first nocturnal zoo of the world. This wild life park has won Singapore Tourism Awards several times and is a must see place in Singapore. The tram ride experience in the park will take you around 40 hectares of forest divided into 7 geographical zones of the world. This is a unique safari experience where you can see large variety of animals in their natural habitat. You can also explore the 4 walking trails in the park – Leopard Trail, Fishing Cat Trail, East Lodge Trail and Wallaby Trail..
Singapore River Cruise
Singapore River once the lifeline of the city provide visitors with the enlightening experience of Singapore’s past and present. You can take a scenic Singapore River Cruise to see the contrast between the historically old architectural buildings and the amazing modern ones. The river cruise is around 4.1 kilometers from its mouth of the river at Anderson Bridge to Kim Seng Bridge. Some of the highlights of the river cruise are Marina Bay, Boat Quay, Robertson Quay and Clarke Quay.
The Merlion is the landmark and mascot of Singapore. It is a imaginary creature which has a head of a lion and a body of a fish. The lion represents Singapore’s original name – Singapura – meaning the lion city. It is located just outside of the Esplanade – a venue for performing art. It is a good place to take photographs both during day time as well as in the night.
Singapore is a fairly diverse society and has been moulded by its immigrant population, primarily Malay, Chinese and Indian, along with the large expat community. The city is incredibly efficient and the citizens very law-abiding – there are fines issued for just about any offence in Singapore, including smoking in public places, jaywalking, littering and for eating, drinking or chewing gum on the MRT. There are even fines for not flushing public toilets so it goes without saying that getting involved in illegal drugs is not advisable; drug trafficking carries a maximum penalty of death. Chinese Singaporeans have three names, the first of which is their surname, or family name. As a result visitors should be prepared for hotels mistakenly reserving rooms under their first names. For clarity surnames may be underlined.
Singapore is a very safe travel destination with crime generally limited to occasional petty theft. The Singaporean government has stepped up security measures following the terrorist attacks in Bali and is committed to maintaining Singapore’s reputation as a safe destination.
Passport and Visa
Travellers should hold confirmed documents and tickets for onward or return travel and enough funds to cover their stay. Male travellers with long hair are advised to tie their hair back on arrival. Women who are six months pregnant or more may be refused entry. All nationals, regardless of visa requirements, may be issued with a Social Visitor’s Pass on arrival allowing for a stay of 14 or 30 days provided their visit is for touristic or business purposes. Extensions are possible for S$40, but the initial Pass is free. Passports must be valid for at least six months from date of arrival. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.