Singapore is a bustling, vibrant, modern city - a fast-paced urban
nation where determination and energy are directed squarely toward the
future. Gazing at the blocks of gleaming shopping malls and
skyscrapers that cover much of today's Singapore, it can be difficult
to find traces of the island's ancient history.
The history of Singapore began as early as the 3rd Century when a Chinese account described the island at the tip of the Malay peninsula. Singapore rose in importance during the 14th century under the rule of Srivijayan prince Parameswara and became an important port until it was destroyed by Portuguese raiders in 1613. The modern history of Singapore began in 1819 when Englishman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles established a British port on the island. Under British colonial rule, it grew in importance as a centre for the India-China trade in Southeast Asia, rapidly becoming a major port city.
During World War II, Singapore was conquered and occupied by the Japanese Empire from 1942 to 1945. When the war ended, Singapore reverted to British control, with increasing levels of self-government being granted, culminating in Singapore's merger with the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia in 1963. However, social unrest and disputes between Singapore's ruling People's Action Party and Malaysia's Alliance Party resulted in Singapore's expulsion from Malaysia. Singapore became an independent republic on 9 August 1965.
Facing severe unemployment and a housing crisis, Singapore embarked on a modernisation programme that focused on establishing a manufacturing industry, developing large public housing estates and investing heavily on public education. Since independence, Singapore's economy has grown by an average of nine percent each year. By the 1990s, the country has become one of the world's most prosperous nations, with a highly-developed free market economy, strong international trading links, and the highest per capita gross domestic product in Asia outside of Japan.
General Information About Singapore
Singapore is a vibrant metropolis where about 4 million Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians live and work side-by-side. Visitors call it "Surprising Singapore", "Garden City" and even "Instant Asia."
All these descriptions are true. Singapore has a truly international atmosphere with the warmth and friendliness of Asia. It is small - just under 640 square kilometres. Yet within this space are all the attractions a visitor could wish to find. From theme attractions to nature parks, from offshore islands to landmarks, museums and places of worship, Singapore is a destination that cannot wait to be discovered.
There are 4 official languages in Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. English is the language of business and administration, and is widely spoken and understood. Most Singaporeans are bilingual, and speak their mother tongue as well as English. Malay is the national language.
Singapore's clean and green image is the result of more than two decades of public education campaigns and strict laws against littering. Littering of any kind is subject up to S$1,000 fine for first offenders, and up to S$2,000 fine and a stint of corrective work order cleaning a public place for repeat offenders. As an extension of the law against littering, the import, sale and possession of chewing gum is prohibited. The high costs and difficulty in removing indiscriminately discarded chewing gum were the reasons for the prohibition.
Singapore's medical facilities are among the finest in the world, with well-qualified doctors and dentists. Pharmaceuticals are available from numerous outlets including supermarkets, department stores, shopping centres and hotels. Most hotels have their own doctors on 24-hour call. For an ambulance, dial 995.
Singapore's voltage is 220-240 volts AC, 50 cycles per second. Most hotels can provide visitors with a transformer, which can convert the voltage to 110-120 volts AC, 60 cycles per second. The power plugs used in Singapore are of the 3-pin, square-shaped type.
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