SINGAPORE

Population: 2.7m

Area code: +65
Time zone: GMT +8
Currency: Singapore dollar (S$) = 100cents
Climate: Tropical, with northeast monsoon winds in summer, thunderstorms in Arp/May and Oct/Nov; aver temp, 23°C/ 75°F - 30°C/887°F all the year round.
Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN): 25 km/15.6 miles.

Is it Zurich-in-the-tropics of Hong Kong after a clean-up? Suspended by the Jahore Causeway from the Southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula, the tiny island state of Singapore is also isolated from the rest of the continent by its almost fanatically organized prosperity. Nonetheless, behind the squeaky-clean fa├žade and flower-filled boulevards there still lurks enough Oriental mysticism to justify the self-styled ’Instant Asia’ tag.


Singapore shares its potpourri of races and religious with its neighboring countries. Although there are sizable Malay and Indian minorities and a sprinkling of virtually every other nationality under the sin, it remains overwhelmingly a Chinese city – one of the greatest in the world, in fact. Despite made-to-order suits or designer jeans, the citizens cling to the ancient values, traditions and festivals of their unknown homeland – and its superstitions. For all its Oz-like modernity, the visitor will find among the stalls of Bugis Street the same colorful impressions as in Bangkok or San Francisco. (When the metropolitan whirl gets too energetic you can withdraw to Sentosa Island, Singapore’s favorite R-and-R retreat.) And the shopping matches Hong Kong.

View of Singapore's buildings

The ‘Lion City’ is a fusion of the dreams of two men: pioneer Sir Stamford Raffles and visionary Lee Kuan Yew. It was the former who placed his faith in the deep-water harbor and strategic location at the Pacific entrance to the Strait of Malacca, transforming “Singa-Pura’ from a malaria-ridden fishing village into the East India Company’s ‘Emporium of the Southern Seas”. Britannia’s heyday came and went, and in its wake the colonels with handlebar moustaches and baggy shorts who reminisced over Singapore Slings in the Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel. They bequeathed the structures of imperial capitalism to the autocratic ex-Cambridge lawyer-cum-politician whose synthesis of the Confucian-Puritan virtues of diligence, discipline, authority and logic have steered the city during the past three decades. Under Lee Kuan Yew’s tutelage, Singapore has attained pre-eminence as the region’s hub of communications, finance, commerce, travel and shipping. The port is even the busiest in the world. Today the course ahead remains clearly mapped out, even though the ‘Father of the nation’ has taken a back seat.

Singapore sets its own styles, rules and standards. Its brash optimism and disproportionate international importance in relation to its size recall the city states of Renaissance Italy: Venice, Florence or Genoa. In this functioning world of provisions and prohibitions for the common good there is no slacking, no sentiment, no slum housing, no unemployment – and no traffic jams, no litter, no drugs. So who says it can’t be done?

* Singapore Sights and Attractions
* Hotels in Singapore
* Fine Dining and Hang out Place in Singapore

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