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Introduction to Singapore
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Introduction to Singapore

Singapore consists of the island of Singapore plus an additional 63 islets. The main island is approximately 42kms from west to east, and 23km from north to south. Singapore is located at the As Singapore is located near the equator it is generally hot & humid all year round with the temperature almost never dropping below 20 degrees. During the day temperatures are usually between 25 – 32 degrees. The wettest months are November to January and the driest months are May to July. A good weather website is

Brief History of Singapore

1819 Sir Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein of Johor to establish a trading post.

1824 The British signed another treaty with the Sultan and gained full control.

1869 Suez Canal opened. Trade and commerce increased as Singapore became a major port of call for ships travelling between Europe and East Asia.

8 Dec 1941 Japan invaded Singapore.

15 Feb 1942 Britain surrendered to Japan.

1945 Britain returned to Singapore.

1946 Singapore became a Crown Colony.

1959 Attained self-government under Lee Kuan Yew who became first Prime Minister.

1963 Decided to join Federation of Malaya which had gained full independence from Britain in 1957.

9 Aug 1965 Separated from Malaysia and became an independent Republic.

A good history museum is The National Museum of Singapore

Culture & Language

Singapore is a modern cosmopolitan country. After centuries of immigration, Singapore has three main ethnic groups, Chinese, Malay and Indian. Each group fosters a variety of language, religious and cultural attributes which results in the multicultural face of modern Singapore. These influences have crossed the boundaries of ethnicity with most Singaporeans enjoying the food and religious celebrations of each of the three main ethic group.

There are four main languages in Singapore - Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English. English is the official language, uniting all ethnic groups with a common language. Singapore English is a locally influenced language that is mainly a mix of Malay and Hokkien with English. At times, it can be difficult for a foreigner to understand.

A good website on Singapore culture is www.yoursingapore\culture_heritage


A variety of religions are found in Singapore which reflects the number of races living here. The Chinese mainly follow Buddhism and Shenism, though some are Christians. Malays are overwhelmingly Muslim. Most of Singapore’s Indians are Hindus, but some are Muslim and there are also Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists.


The economy of Singapore is a highly developed free market economy. It has an open business environment, is relatively corruption-free and transparent, has stable prices and one of the highest per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in the world. Exports (particularly electronics, chemicals and services) provide the main source of revenue for the economy thus allowing it to purchase natural resources and raw goods that it does not have. Singapore also has a strategic port which is one of the busiest ports in the world. Financial services, commodities exchanges, manufacturing, exports, and a well-developed infrastructure have made Singapore one of the developed countries of the world.

Public Transport

Since Singapore is relatively small, getting around is generally very quick. The main modes of Singapore transportation are outlined below;


Taxis in Singapore are generally fairly easy to flag at main roads or at designated taxi stands and are generally considered quite cheap (certainly compared with Australian taxi prices). Taxis are generally clean and air-conditioned. Most taxi drivers speak adequate English but it can also be worthwhile to look up your destination on a map ahead of time or write down your destination to show the driver.

Taxi companies in Singapore have a rigid fare structure and there is no such thing as a negotiated fare. Taxis entering designated restricted zones will pass through the ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) points where passengers are required to pay the specified road toll. From midnight to 6am there is also an additional 50% surcharge to the original fare and surcharges also apply during peak hours and for advance bookings. A good site for taxis is


Buses in Singapore are a very inexpensive mode of transport and they run on most routes from 6am to midnight. Fares are distance related and either exact fares or stored value cards (ez-link) are required for payment.


Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) is one of the fastest modes of transport for getting around Singapore and it has over 48 stops across the island. It is clean, reliable and efficient. The MRT operates from approximately 5.30am – 12.30am. The fares are distance related and relatively cheap. You can purchase tickets at the stations. Either single trip tickets or stored value cards (ez-link cards) are available. A good site for Bus and MRT information is

Public Holidays

Below is a list of the public holidays in Singapore. For days not based on the western calendar the months they are likely to fall in are provided. For public holidays in 2014, please click here

New Years Eve 1 January
Chinese New Year January/February
Good Friday April
Labour Day 1 May
Vesak Day May
National Day 9 August
Hari Raya Puasa December
Deepavali November
Hari Raya Haji December
Christmas Day 25 December