Today, Singapore, with a population of slightly over five million, is a mecca of national monuments, museums, memorials, religious landmarks, and astonishing architecture for tourists. The diverse cultures with their languages, customs, and festivals, give the city a vibrant and buzzing feel. Singapore has become one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Asia and you will be in awe at the beauty of the landscaped gardens and architecturally grand high-rise buildings. Singapore is rich in arts, design, and varied cuisine, embracing both aspects of East and West.
If you like being amidst the hustle and bustle of city lights, there are numerous shopping malls, dining and entertainment hotspots to choose from like the Clarke Quay or Boat Quay areas, both of which offer a myriad selection of nightlife activities, just to name a few.
Comprised of 74% Chinese, 13% Malays and 9% Indians, Singapore is a diverse metropolitan and home to many other emigrants from as far as North America, Australia, Europe, and Japan. Earliest historical records show the region to be called ‘island at the end of a peninsula’ and later the growing village was known as ‘Sea Town’. In the 14th century legend tells us the story of the Prince from Palembang, spotting an animal he had never seen before, naming the village where he saw the creature, ‘The Lion City’ or ‘Singapura’ from the Sanskrit words ‘simha’ (lion) and ‘pura’ (city). Modern day Singapore was founded in the early 19th century. It became an important trading post, especially valuable to the British Empire. Soon the island’s free trade agreements drew merchants from all over Asia and from as far away as the Middle East and the US.
Singapore belongs to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and is also the host of the APEC Secretariat. It is a leading commercial hub and one of the five busiest ports in the region. It is also one of the world’s richest nations and a global financial capital. Everyone speaks English – no worries. English is the main language taught in schools, but the children also learn their mother tongues.
Surprisingly, Singapore ranks high on the ecology charts as the greenest city in Asia. Gardens by the Bay, (see slide show) won the building-of-the-year prize at the World Architecture Festival. It features lush lawns, tropical trees, a huge water park with rides, and an aquarium showcasing some 800 species of underwater life. Gardens by the Bay houses 250,000 rare plants on over 101 hectares, featuring 16-story tall vertical gardens called ‘Super Trees’. These vertical gardens collect rainwater and generate solar power, lighting up a suspended 128-meter-long walkway. You can visit and enjoy pretty pavilions, tropical palm trees and natural blossoms, ideal for an evening stroll or a picnic with family and friends; a true adventure for the seasoned traveler.