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Singapore Information


 




Singapore is an island-state in Southeast Asia, connected by bridges to Malaysia. Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, since independence it has become one of the world's most prosperous countries and sports the world's busiest port. Combining the skyscrapers and subways of a modern, affluent city with a medley of Chinese, Indian and Malay influences and a tropical climate, with tasty food, good shopping and a vibrant nightlife scene, this Garden City makes a great stopover or springboard into the region.

Singapore is a microcosm of Asia, populated by Chinese, Malays, Indians and a large group of workers and expatriates from all across the globe. Singapore has a partly deserved reputation for sterile predictability that has earned it snickering descriptions like William Gibson's "Disneyland with the death penalty" or the "world's only shopping mall with a seat in the United Nations". Nevertheless, the Switzerland of Asia is for many a welcome respite from the poverty, chaos, and crime of much of the Asian mainland, and if you scratch below the squeaky clean surface you'll find more than meets the eye.

Singaporean food is legendary, with bustling hawker centres and 24-hour coffee shops offering cheap food from all parts of Asia, and shoppers can bust their baggage allowances in shopping meccas like Orchard Road and Suntec City. In recent years some societal restrictions have also loosened up, and now you can bungee jump and dance on bartops all night long, although alcohol is very pricey and chewing gum can only be bought from a pharmacy. Gambling casinos will be opening up in about 2009 as part of Singapore's new Fun and Entertainment drive, the aim being to double the number of tourists visiting and increasing the length of time they stay. Watch out for more loosening up in the future.

Districts


Singapore is a small country on a small island, but with over four million people it's a fairly crowded city and in fact second only to Monaco as the world's most densely populated country. The center of the city — consisting roughly of Orchard, the Riverside and a chunk of Chinatown — is known in acronym-loving Singapore as the CBD (Central Business District).

    * Riverside — (also known as Civil District); Museums, statues and theaters, not to mention restaurants, bars and clubs.
    * Orchard Road — Miles and miles of shopping malls.
    * Bugis and Kampong Glam — Bugis and Kampong Glam are Singapore's old Malay district, now largely taken over by mall-shopping, although Arab Street in the Kampong Glam area is well worth a visit for its eclectic mix of unique shops and restaurants.
    * Chinatown — The area originally designated for Chinese settlement by Stamford Raffles. Now a Cantonese enclave in predominantly Hokkien Singapore.
    * Little India — A piece of India to the north of the city core.
    * Balestier, Newton, Novena and Toa Payoh — Budget accommodations and Burmese temples within striking distance of the center.
    * North and West — The northern and western parts of the island, also known as Woodlands and Jurong respectively, form Singapore's residential and industrial hinterlands.
    * East Coast — The largely residential eastern part of the island contains Changi Airport and many famous eateries. Katong is located in the East Coast and is famous for its Peranakan food, such as laksa. Joo Chiat has some well-restored Peranakan houses with characteristic intricate architecture. Also consists of Geylang Serai, the true home of Singapore's Malays.
    * Sentosa — A separate island developed into a resort, Sentosa is the closest that Singapore gets to Disneyland.

Climate


Located a mere 1.5 degrees north of the Equator, the weather is usually sunny with no distinct seasons. Rain falls almost daily throughout the year, usually in sudden, heavy showers that rarely last longer than an hour. However, most rainfall occurs during the northeast monsoon (November to January), occasionally featuring lengthy spells of continuous rain. Spectacular thunderstorms can occur throughout the year, normally in the afternoons, so it's wise to carry an umbrella at all times, both as a shade from the sun or cover from the rain.

Between May and October, forest fires in neighboring Sumatra can also cause dense haze, although this is unpredictable and comes and goes rapidly: check the National Environment Agency's site [3] for current data.

The temperature averages around:

    * 26°C (79°F) daytime, 24°C (76°F) at night in December and January.
    * 31°C (89°F) daytime, 26°C (80°F) at night for the rest of the year.

The high temperature and humidity, combined with the lack of wind and the fact that temperatures stay high during the night, can take its toll on visitors from colder parts of the world. Bear in mind that spending more than about one hour outdoors can be very exhausting, especially if combined with moderate exercise. Singaporeans themselves shun the heat, and for a good reason. Many live in air-conditioned flats, work in air-conditioned offices, take the air-conditioned metro to air-conditioned shopping malls connected to each other by underground tunnels where they shop, eat, and exercise in air-conditioned fitness clubs. Follow their example if you want to avoid discomfort.

Holidays


Singapore is a secular city state but thanks to its multicultural population, Singapore celebrates Chinese, Muslim, Indian, and Christian
 

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