Singapore, city-state located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, about 85 miles (137 kilometres) north of the Equator. It consists of the diamond-shaped Singapore Island and some 60 small islets; the main island occupies all but about 18 square miles of this combined area. The main island is separated from Peninsular Malaysia to the north by Johor Strait, a narrow channel crossed by a road and rail causeway that is more than half a mile long. The southern limits of the state run through Singapore Strait, where outliers of the Riau-Lingga Archipelago—which forms a part of Indonesia—extend to within 10 miles of the main island.
1. It’s a city of not just one island, but 64
Photo by Afur Wong
You might not know it but Singapore’s land area includes as many as 64 offshore islands that surround the main island. These include Sentosa (the largest of the offshore islands), Pulau Ubin, St John’s Island and Sisters’ Islands. What that means for visitors: more fun in the sun!
2. It’s home to the world’s first night zoo
Singapore’s Night Safari provides a nocturnal experience like no other in the city; it’s also the world’s very first night zoo. Opened in 1994, the 35-hectare park features over 1,000 animals in their naturalistic night-time environments.
Hop onto the 40-minute tram ride for an overview of the park’s main attractions. Be sure to amble along the four interlinked walking trails within the park, for a zoo trip like no other.
A long, long time ago…
A long time ago, Singapore was once known as Sea Town.
While the earliest known historical records of Singapore are shrouded in time, a third century Chinese account describes it as “Pu-luo-chung”, referring to “Pulau Ujong” which means the “island at the end of a peninsula” in the Malay language. Later, the city was known as Temasek (“Sea Town”), when the first settlements were established from AD 1298-1299.
During the 14th century, this small but strategically-located island earned a new name. According to legend, Sang Nila Utama, a Prince from Palembang (the capital of Srivijaya), was out on a hunting trip when he caught sight of an animal he had never seen before. Taking it to be a good sign, he founded a city where the animal had been spotted, naming it “The Lion City” or Singapura, from the Sanskrit words “simha” (lion) and “pura” (city).
The city was then ruled by the five kings of ancient Singapura. Located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, the natural meeting point of sea routes, the city flourished as a trading post for vessels such as Chinese junks, Arab dhows, Portuguese battleships, and Buginese schooners.
Though physically small, Singapore is an economic giant. It has been Southeast Asia’s most modern city for over a century. The city blends Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian and English cultures and religions. Its unique ethnic tapestry affords visitors a wide array of sightseeing and culinary opportunities from which to choose. A full calendar of traditional festivals and holidays celebrated throughout the year adds to its cultural appeal. In addition, Singapore offers luxury hotels, delectable cuisine and great shopping! The island nation of the Republic of Singapore lies one degree north of the Equator in Southern Asia. The country includes the island of Singapore and 58 or so smaller islands. Because of its efficient and determined government, Singapore has become a flourishing country that excels in trade and tourism and is a model to developing nations. The capital city, also called Singapore, covers about a third of the area of the main island.
Located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore’s tropical climate welcomes both leisure and business travelers year round. The island republic’s excellent infrastructure enables visitors to enjoy its many sites and attractions in a safe, clean and green environment. Award winning Changi Airport provides airlinks to major cities around the world. The train and subway systems are clean, fast and efficient. In addition, its state-of-the-art cruise terminal has established Singapore as one of the premier cruising centers of South East Asia and an exciting port of call on any Asian cruise itinerary.
In the city, there is no need for a car. Public transportation is excellent and walking is a good way to explore the city . All major attractions are also accessible by tour bus. Since the city is only 60 miles (100k) from the equator, the tropical temperatures do not vary much. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed through the year. No matter when you choose to visit, warm weather will be abundantly available. The visitor is struck immediately by Singapore’s abundance of parks, nature reserves, and lush, tropical greenery.
Although its history stretches back millennia, modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the British Empire. In 1867, the colonies in East Asia were reorganised and Singapore came under the direct control of the British Crown as a crown colony within the Straits Settlements. During the Second World War, Singapore was occupied by Japan in 1942 but returned to British control following Japan’s surrender in 1945. Singapore gained self-governance from the British Empire in 1959 and joined Malaysia as a state along with Sabah and Sarawak in 1963, but separated two years later over ideological differences, becoming a fully sovereign state in 1965. After early years of turbulence and despite lacking natural resources and a hinterland, the nation rapidly developed to become one of the Four Asian Tigers based on external trade and its resilient workforce.
The city-state is home to 5.6 million residents, 39% of whom are foreign nationals, including permanent residents. There are four official languages of Singapore: English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil. This reflects in its rich cultural diversity and extensive ethnic cuisine and major festivals. A 2014 study by Pew Research Center found that Singapore has the highest religious diversity of any country. Multiracialism has been enshrined in its constitution since independence and continues to shape national policies in education, housing and politics.