General Information about Singapore
We first will talk a little about the population of Singapore and the history of the country before we get in the following pages individually into the sightseeings and tips for going out. Singapore is a multicultural country where different classes of population with numerous religions live together in peace.
History of Singapore
First, the name of the city is similar to an Indian prince who was at the end of the 13th century on his way in the tropic forest there. As he came across to a creature similar to a lion, he baptised the city Singa Pura (Lion city). Unfortunately, there is only few information of the time of the 13th -18th century; What is evident is that merchants from different countries traded and considered Singapore as a good base.
In the year 1819, the Brit Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles recognized that Singapore is strategically an important centre and acquired Singapore as a colony. During the colonial period, many parts of the jungle of that time were extensively cleared and roads were built. In the warehouses spices, tea, silk, precious woods, opium and caoutchouc were stored and there were mainly Chinese, Malay and Indians who traded with goods. This is why the city state that once consisted on swamp became interesting also for the immigrants from the surrounding regions.
But during the second world war, the city was conquered by the Japanese when they crossed the road path from Malaysia by bike. This was the only way that was forgotten by the inhabitants for their defense! In the year 1945, the Brits came back and Singapore became crown colony. In the 50ies, politic parties were established for the first time with the purpose of being able to administer Singapore by themselves. In the year 1959, the People Action's Party (PAP) was voted that still today leads the regime.
In the year 1963, an important event occured in the history; At that time, Singapur formed a union with Malaysia, that decayed in the year 1965 so that Singapore was free again after the declaration of independency and continued its own way. After two years union with its neighbour Malaysia, Singapore gets independent in the year 1965 and still celebrates this in the National Day (09th August). Still today it is noticeable that due to the discrepancies of that time, the relationship between the mainly Chinese poeple living in Singapore and the minority of the Malays is not the best. Despite of many other parties, the PAP remains leader and is always voted with an outstanding majority.
The Inhabitants of Singapore
As many different inhabitants Singapore might have, as variable are the languages. Beside English as the main language, also Malay, Chinese (Hokkien, Mandarin) and Tamil is spoken. The language influence into Englisch is unmistakable and is noticeable by a very special dialect, the Singlish. The grammar and sentence structure are not considered and it is spoken in very short and curt sentences are formed that most of the times end with a lah (word appendix without any meaning). But the government aspires to omit this Singlish and to teach the children proper English.
The population of Singapore is, despite a different culture, habits and customs, capable to live in peace together; Each nation has its own bank holidays in Singapore. Moreover, there are not only Chinese living in the quarters of Chinatown and Indians in Little India, but got mixed long time ago.
The person of Singapore himself, he enjoys his leisure time in one of the big shopping malls, a thing that is not at least due to the air condition that does not have everybody at home. In Singapore, the flats are normally distributed by the state (HDB flats) and most of the times, they are accommodated in huge towers. The food is a very important matter and people have up to five warm meals per day!
And what is in any case important for the people of Singapore are the three C's: Career, Credit card, Condo (abbreviation for condominium = high quality residence with pool), Club (club-memberships valued several thousand $) and Car (In Singapore, approximately 3x more expensive than in Germany). Professional success and richness are priority and liked to be shown with status symbols. Of couse, this is also known from germany, but in Singapore it is again something different.
Moreover, the people of Singapore are influenced by the "kiasu", kiasu is Chinese (hokkien) and means something like "Fear for losing". This attitude is for example noticable every day in the tube (MRT), where everybody is queue-jumping to get to the tube. Another example are the queues that the people of Singapore accept without further ado only to, get for example a ticket in demand. But otherwise, the population is friendly, rather reserved and helpful.
Data and Facts
The following data are from the German Department for Foreign Affairs, July 2007:
- Capital: Singapore
- Form of government: Parlamentary Democracy
- Surface: 704 km²
- Situation: 1'18'N, 103'50'O. Singapore consists on an island that is located in the southern front of the peninsula Malaysia (extention east-west: 42 km; north-south: 22 km), tht is connected to the Malay mainland by a dam and a bridge, and further 54 smaller islands
- Climate: Humid and hot tropical climate without any seasonal changes; average day temperature 27,5 C°, air humidity mostly approximately 85%
- Inhabitants: 4,48 millions, therefrom approximtely 875.000 foreigners
- Population: Chinese 75,2%, Malays 13,6%, Indians 8,8%, other 2,4%
- Languages: English (lingua franca, commercial language and language of government), Chinese (Mandarin, southern dilects), Malay (official "National Language"), Tamil
- Religion: Buddhism, Taoismu 51%, Islam 13,9%, Christin confessions 14,6%, Hinduism 4%, others 1,6%, without religion 14,8%
- Currency: 1 singapore-dollar (SGD) = 0,50 Euro; 1 Euro = 2,00 SGD
- Per capita income: 23.416 euro (2006)
- GPD: 104,99 billion euro (2006)
Arrival and Entry
During the arrival, one gets the so-called tourist visa that has a validity of 30 days. Therefore, a two-paged landing card is filled out (arrival/departure) and one keeps the carbon copy up to the departure. Attention: the own passport must still have a validity of at least 6 months at the time of the arrival!
If one should have planned a longer stay than 30 days, one only has to leave Singapore one or possibly several times during the stay, as during the departure, the visa is automatically prolonged from the day of departure.
Most of the tourists come by plane to Singapore and land on the Changi Airport. It is one of the most important airports of Asia and is located at the east of the city. The individual terminals of the airport are connected to each other by a sky train, so that the fast connection is assured. Underneath the terminal 2 there is the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) with which one gets in 30 minutes to the city.
There are of course also taxis with which one can comfortably get within 20 minutes to the city, price: approximately 15-20 S$ (airport surcharge of 2-5$ included). But be careful of white limousines! Better do not permit the dirvers to recruit you but preferrably wit in the taxi queue, as otherwise the trip would cost the double amount.
Kuala Lumpur, Mersing, Johor Bahru and other Malay cities are accessible by express buses. They are very cheap and can be booked at the big bus terminals. But one should take at least 5 hours in consideration and get dressed respectivly, as in these buses, the air condition is continuously activated and many times, the tempertures are even below 20 °C. Anyway, these five star buses are very comfortable as one has lots of more space there and they are not comparable to the buses of our country.
Tip: by buying only one way tickets you will pay less as the prices are Malaysia approximately 50% cheaper than in Singapore.
Cruisers land at the Cruise Centre in Harbour Front, the last station before the holiday island Sentosa. From there, the MRT drives to the city or one takes a taxi in order to get there in approximately 15 minutes. The regional ferries are stationed at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, the habour is located in the proximity of the Changi Airport and also has an own MRT station. From there, one has access to the most beautiful Indonesian and Malay islands.
Singapore is very strict concerning the import of goods. Only one litre of alcohol and one open package of cigarettes (this means at least one cigarette must be missing) can be taken customs free into the country. During the departure, the usual amounts are applied: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 1 litre alcohol, 50 ml perfume or 250 ml eau de toilette as also shoppings for a value up to 175 euro.
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Author: Natascha Nißl; Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz