Singapore is a tiny island nation just 1 degree (137 km) to the north of the equator. But that doesn’t deter the world’s only island city-state from making a big impression.
Referred to as the Lion City or the Little Red Dot, Singapore was founded by Stamford Raffles in 1819 as a trading post for the English East India Company and became part of its Straits Settlements. During the Second World War (1939 – 1945), Singapore was occupied by Japan. When the Japanese surrendered in 1945 it was handed back to the British. In 1963, Singapore gained independence and federated with other former British colonies to form Malaysia. However, the merger proved unsuccessful over ideological differences, and less than two years later on 9 August 1965, it parted ways to become an independent and sovereign democratic nation. Under the leadership of its first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore moved from a Third World economy to a First World affluence in a single generation. His emphasis on rapid economic growth, support for business entrepreneurship, and limitations on internal democracy shaped Singapore’s policies for the next half-century.
It is this colourful past that reflects in today’s multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Singapore. You can visit monuments, museums and memorials, or for a real trip through time, take a walk along a heritage trail and experience it first hand.
Singapore is ranked highly in education, healthcare, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety and housing. 90% of homes are owner-occupied. 38% of Singapore’s 5.6 million residents are permanent residents and other foreign nationals. There are four official languages on the island – Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. English is the common language with most Singaporeans being bilingual.
The currency of Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD) which trends close to INR 50/- (As of January 2017). Similar to India it drives on the left and uses dd-mm-yyyy as the date format. Its ISD calling code is +65 and is 8 hours ahead of the GMT.
In an effort to upkeep the standard, laws are enforced to the T. Chewing gum is prohibited and can attract a fine. Standing in a moving bus attracts a fine of SGD 400/- while for breeding of mosquitoes it is SGD 200/-.
Singapore enjoys uniform temperature, high humidity and abundant rainfall throughout the year. Temperatures range from 22C to 35C and humidity from 75% to 80%.