Singapore: The southeasternmost corner of Asia. When you look at the
world map, Singapore appears as just a dot. But while this nation was once
just a swampy land mass, it has now become one of the globe's most notable
A general view of the Singapore skyline.
Interestingly enough, Singapore is the southernmost country on the Asian
continent. It is like a city-state; while small, its economy is big.
Singapore lies in southeastern Asia, between Indonesia and Malaysia. Its
population is 4.5 million people. While it was counted as a Third World
country only 30 years ago, Singapore now is among countries with the highest
per capita in the world at $21,000.
In the year 1819, Singapore became a British colony. In 1963, it united with
Malaysia, though this alliance ended just two years later in 1965, when it
emerged as an independent state of its own. It developed economically and
otherwise in a very short period of time, gaining prosperity at a fast rate.
This is a nation with very strong trade ties, and an economy indexed on
export. It boasts wide and clean boulevards along with lots of greenery in
its landscape. You can see many shades of green on its trees and bushes,
thanks to the steady rainfall nurturing all the leaves.
Singapore has a range of different cultural backgrounds making up its
citizenry: 75 percent are ethnically Chinese, while 15 percent are Malay and
7 percent are Indian. Languages spoken in Singapore reflect this diversity,
with Tamil, Malay and Chinese all spoken, in addition to English. The
different ethnic groups tend to gather in separate neighborhoods and
sections though, however all within the borders of Singapore.
The citizens of Singapore tend to speak a language some call "Singlish." Yes, Singlish. Difficult to believe perhaps, but there is even a Singlish
dictionary. Some say Singlish is actually an malgamation of English and
Chinese. But in fact, as a language, it also contains lots of Indian and
Orchard Road is the most famous shopping street in the country, with throngs
of people mingling and shopping until at least midnight every day. Weekends
attract even bigger crowds to the many stores and shopping centers up and
down the boulevard. As for nightlife in Singapore, it is bright and active,
with concerts, live music and a multitude of young people out on the town.
You can't help but notice the tremendous number of Buddhist temples throughout this majority ethnically Chinese country.
In terms of its weather, Singapore is accustomed to sudden and fast
downpours of rain. These fierce rainstorms have an important effect on life in Singapore, especially anyone who is not prepared for the change that heavy rains bring on a practical level. The average temperature in Singapore is 27 degrees Centigrade. For 12 months of the year, Singapore is hot and moist, a very difficult state for some to handle.
One of the first things to come to mind when people hear the word "Singapore" is the market for electronic appliances -- and rightly so. There are giant shopping centers devoted just to electronic appliances throughout Singapore, with one of the largest of these on Singapore's Sim Lim Square. You can make both wholesale and retail purchases here.
The famous Sentosa Island
You can reach the well-known island of Sentosa from Faber Hill in Singapore
by cable car. It is a wonderful day trip 90 meters in the air which takes you two kilometers in distance. Below you is the deep blue sea, and the giant trade ships plying their ways across the waters. And since the cable car's floor is made of glass, all this is spread out beneath you for your viewing pleasure.
The Port of Singapore is impressively busy, visited by 140,000 ships annually. Some say a new ship pulls in to port every three minutes. Sentosa, by contrast, is calm and serene, a beautiful island in the sea boasting sun, sand, and gorgeous blue water. There are free trains that go around the island, with interesting shows taking place at the various train stops. You can see all sorts of things on Sentosa from dolphin to parrot shows. Don't forget to check out the giant Sentosa aquarium, an amazing place for those interested in sea creatures, from sharks to many other kinds of fish.
Another creature you might not get the opportunity to photograph and see up
close elsewhere is a giant python; get your souvenir snapped with this
3-year-old enormous snake for only 7.5 Singaporean dollars.
There is a tiny little island to the south of Sentosa that is connected to Sentosa by a little bridge, and marks the most southeastermost spot on the Asian continent. This little island is only 136 kilometers from the equator, and this proximity is apparent from the moist, hot weather and the frequent rain.
One of the oldest mosques on Singapore is the Sultan Mosque. With a
population composed of approximately 18 percent Muslims, there are around 80
mosques here. You can tell when you have entered a Muslim neighborhood in
Singapore from the atmosphere, and of course the sound of the call to prayer
rising from the minarets. The Sultan Mosque has a capacity of 5,000 people
and manages to attract full crowds for Friday prayers and holidays. You can
see Chinese, Malaya, and Indian Muslims all under one roof here.
Transportation in Singapore is marked by the "dolmus" style vehicles that
pick up many customers at the same time. Tourists can also depend on taxis
and metro service, though it is useful to remember that private taxis never pick up more than four customers at one time. They are also very strict with road rules, requiring seat belts at all times, at the risk of paying 120 Singapore dollar fines if you don't.
The famous tropical durian fruit is forbidden on Singapore metros and city
buses due to its strong aroma, which permeates the country. Taxis often won't pick up customers carrying durian, afraid that the strong smell will dissuade other customers from using their taxi.
One of the newer symbols of Singapore is its opera house, built in 2003. It
boasts an interesting architectural style -- built in the shape of a... durian! Another sign of the influence this tropical wonder has on the geography and its people.
Capital: Singapore City
Official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil
Government: Parliamentary republic
President: Sellapan Ramanathan
Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong
Area: 704 square kilometers
GDP: $137.762 billion **
Main religions: Buddhism or Taoism (51 percent), Christianity (15
percent), Islam (14 percent)
** 2006 estimate*