Singapore has traded in its rough-and-ready opium dens and pearl luggers for towers of concrete and glass, and its steamy rickshaw image for cool efficiency and spotless streets, but you can still recapture the colonial era with a Singapore Sling under the languorous ceiling fans at Raffles Hotel.
At first glance, Singapore appears shockingly modern and anonymous, but this is an undeniably Asian city where Chinese, Malay and Indian traditions from feng shui to ancestor worship create part of the everyday landscape - colourful contrasts that bring the city to life.
When To Go
Go anytime. Climate is not a major consideration, as Singapore gets fairly steady annual rainfall. Instead, coordinate your visit with one of the various festivals and events: Thaipusam is a spectacular Hindu festival, occurring around February. If shopping and eating are major concerns, April brings the Singapore Food Festival and the Great Singapore Sale is held in June.
Singapore Tourist Guides — Introduction
Singapore may be small, but packs in quite a punch. Only about 655 square kilometers in area, it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with about 6430 people per square kilometer. Although it is one of the 20 smallest countries in the world, its economy is a world leader, and has the world's busiest port in terms of tonnage handled.
Today the financial and technological hub of South East Asia, Singapore was once a sleepy Malay fishing village, which came into its own as a British trading colony in the 1800's. The population is a mix of Malays, Chinese and Indians with a smattering of other ethnic nationalities. There are four official languages in Singapore - Mandarin, Tamil, Malay and English. The Chinese ethnic population is originally from South-east China from the provinces of Fukian and Guangdong. Immigrants from the Malaysian peninsula, Sumatra, Java and other islands of the Malay Archipelago have thronged the state. About two-thirds of the Indians are Tamil, with a smattering of Malayalis, Punjabis and Gujratis.
Singapore consists of one main island, and 58 smaller ones. The terrain is flat lowland, the highest point being Bukit Tima Hills, standing at 164 meters. Its climate is hot (ranging between 22 and 30 degrees centigrade) and muggy (humidity remains at 75%). The rainy season is from November to January, although being near the equator, intermittent rains occur throughout the year.
Although about 50% of the land is occupied by vertical urban settlements in modern skyscrapers, Singapore has a thriving agricultural economy specializing in rubber, copra, fruit, orchids, vegetables, poultry, eggs and fish. It is the world's largest exporter of ornamental fish. It has thriving industries of electronics, chemicals, financial services, oil drilling equipment, rubber processing, food processing, ship repair and other industries, with the economy heavily dependant on its electronics and manufacturing exports.
With typical Singapore control and determination, the government has made up for its lack of natural flora and fauna by building gardens and zoos, waterfalls and underwater parks. Singapore has one of the best zoos in the world, and has the world's highest man made waterfall in Jurong Park, standing at 30 meters. The Bird sanctuary in Jurong even has simulated tropical thunderstorms.
Location: South East Asia, at the tip of the Malayan Peninsula
Geographic coordinates: 1 22 N, 103 48 E
Terrain: Lowland, gently undulating central plateau with water catchment area and natural preserves.
Religions: Buddist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Taoist, Confucians
Country Name: Republic of Singapore
Government type: Parliamentary republic
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