Welcome to Singapore

Ever since Sir Stamford Raffles set foot on this tiny island in 1819 and founded Singapore as we know it today, the city has been one of wondrous contradiction. This is a place where tradition doesn't lose out in the quest for modernity and long-established cultures are respected and preserved. Mosques sit comfortably aside Hindu temples, while skyscrapers overlook art deco Chinese shophouses, and this affluent little gem is fiercely proud of its diverse heritage.

Like Asia in miniature, Singapore is an intoxicating blend of cultures and, of course - cuisines. On top of its top international restaurants, perhaps no other city on earth can lay claim to whipping up Malay, Chinese, Arabic and Thai favourites in its famous hawker centres day-in, day-out, with such aplomb.

In a land where the smallest sins such as chewing gum are illegal, you can be forgiven for thinking that this little city-state is a little straight. But while it's true that the fun police often pull rank on the - spotless - streets of Singapore, the opening of the Marina Bay Sands leisure monolith alongside a slew of hot new nightspots is testament to Singapore's throbbing after-dark scene.

Peppered with museums, galleries and grand, historical buildings hinting at the nation's decadent colonial past, there's certainly more to Singapore than great food and fantastic shopping - new eco-spectacular complex Gardens by the Bay is testament to the city's vision to become one of the world's cleanest, greenest business and leisure hubs. So bring your eyes, your palate and your wallet, as Singapore's squeaky clean exterior only hints at the surprises in store for you in this friendly little republic.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in Singapore:
    approx 5 million in the Republic
  • Inhabitants in Singapore:
    See above
  • Official language
    English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, Tamil
  • Currency
    Singapore dollar (SGD)
  • Time zone
    UTC + 8
  • Emergency number
    Police: 999, Ambulance, fire department: 995/2002(5)
  • Constitution
    Parliamentary Republic, President: Sellapan Rama Nathan, Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong
  • Country phone code
    + 65
  • Country code
  • Local transportation
    Bus, Metro (MRT), taxi