In a Nutshell
Singapore lies at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula and encompasses 63 islands.
That's quite a few.
Surrounding the island are Malaysia in the North and East, and Indonesia to the South and West.
Big countries. Especially Indonesia. Like 700 million islands or something. Or was that the population?
It is about 160 kilometers from the equator with a tropical climate characterized by frequent and heavy rainfalls, fairly constant temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius (80 Fahrenheit) and about 12 hours of daylight throughout the year.
That means you sweat a lot, see palm trees, and every day feels the same.
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It will take you about 12 hours to fly here from Central Europe, about 6 hours from Beijing and Tokyo and about 15 hours from Los Angeles.
Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, is about a 30 minute flight away.
Guess which flight is nicer in economy class?
On the island, they drive on the left. Power is at 230 volts, using British type three-prong plugs. The water supply is well assured and potable.
Kinda cool, except you need about 100 adapters for all your appliances. And my wife still wants to drink bottled water - go figure.
is red and white with stars and a crescent moon, reflecting various symbols important to the population.
The currency is the Singapore Dollar, and it's a pretty strong currency at that.
Nothing remotely witty to add here.
The country is a sovereign nation - a city-state - and currently, in January 2012 - a bit more than 5 million people live here, of which about 3.5 million are actually citizens.
That's a lot of people - especially since most of them are on one island (as opposed to the 63 mentioned above).
When you walk the streets, you'll predominantly see ethnic Chinese, Malays and Indians.
And a lot of people whose genes are so mixed up, you would never know...
The rest of the population consist of people from all nations, with a strong domestic helper workforce from the Philippines and Indonesia,construction workers from Bangladesh and India, and Caucasians mostly on assignment with major corporations from Europe and the Americas.
Yep, see the hordes of maids converge on Orchard and the legions of construction guys on Sentosa beaches on Sunday - what a sight.
The official languages are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil, but everyone seems to speak an amusing and very eloquent mix called Singlish, lah.
Singlish can, lah? Cannot, ahh. Not so shiok.
(= May I kindly inquire if you speak our form of English, called Singlish? You don't speak it, do you, oh dear. That is most unfortunate.)
Religious equality is guaranteed and enforced by the government and throughout the island, one can find many Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Christian and other religious places of worship, often neighboring each other.
How cool is that - nobody at your throat.
The country has a very rich Malay and British Colonial history which can be seen not only in sites and buildings from the periods, but also in government institutions, language and many customs.
Jolly good, that, what, what?
The current party in power is the People's Action Party and has governed the country since 1959. One of its founders, Mr Lee Kwan Yew, now retired, was instrumental in developing the former colony into today's highly industrialized and modern nation.
Man, did he ever shape the place.
The country is well-known for its open policy towards foreign investment, low tax rates and flexible economic policies.
Well, in the end it is kinda small, so not that hard to do. But still, very successful.
It also ranks among the nations in the world with the most efficient and highly paid administration and the lowest level of corruption.
Yep. No corruption anywhere. Nil. Nada. Zero. Who needs that stuff, anyway?
The city-state is a regional hub for trade and shipping, oil processing and banking - many foreign corporations have their regional headquarters in Singapore - and a travel hub, with a number of airlines making Singapore a stopover for travel to New Zealand, Australia and neighboring countries in South East Asia.
It is also a popular destination for medical travel, with a highly-skilled medical workforce, as well as a popular destination for higher education in the region with good universities and secondary schools.
You gotta check out the nose jobs here - wow.
The cityscape is characterized by an award-winning airport, innovative and visually interesting architecture, the largest Ferris wheel in the world and vast subsidized housing estates.
Some of it is quite nice - some is just weird.
These subsidized housing estates form the so-called heartlands, blocks of multi-storied apartments with shopping and recreations centers.
Get lost in those HDB estates, I tell you.
Have a look at the Government's primer,
as well as the
to get acquainted with the country in more detail.
Of course, you could also just continue reading my Singapore website!
Which you now shall do!