The island nation that is Singapore is 42km long and 23km wide. Here, just off the Southern Malaysia Peninsula 4 million people live: 77% are Chinese, 14% Malay and 8% are from India and beyond. Singapore is a melting pot of cultures and religions, with over 140 temples, mosques and churches.
“Singa Pura” means “Lion City”. The city’s namesake is a mythical creature – half fish, half lion – names the “Merlion” who brought good fortune to the city. Active trade has been conducted in Singapore for centuries. The island didn’t gain regional importance until the British, under Sir Raffles annexed the harbor for the East India Company and made Singapore a Crown Colony.
Visitors to Singapore are often reminded of this period by local landmarks such as the legendary Raffles Hotel, and the colonial structures along the Singapore River. The ethnic heritage in the city can be traced back to the Raffles era too: China Town and Arab Street are classic examples of this. Life teems through the Asian streets with their unique houses and coffee shops. These areas contrast strongly with the modern skyscrapers in the Central Business District; modern malls along Orchard Road, and the large retail and lifestyle destination that is Vivo City, a grand spaceship like mall overlooking Sentosa Island.
In spite of all these modern developments, a natural tropical setting is still evident which can be experienced best in the beautiful Botanical Garden, or in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve with its 200 acres of primitive rainforest. The highly-acclaimed Singapore Zoological Garden is also quite an experience, particularly during the Night Safari – the world’s first woldlife night park – where you can encounter 110 species illuminated by special lighting. Add to this the abundance of night life in Singapore, and well, you may have to extend your trip in order to enjoy all that Singapore has to offer!