BLANC INN – Singapore Travel Guide

1. Brief Summary of Singapore

Understanding Singapore

● Vibrant Multicultural Experience:
The “little red dot” on the map, Singapore’s presence in the world today is larger than that moniker. One interesting facet you’ll discover about Singapore is a ubiquitous collage of cultures, where people of different ethnicities and beliefs coexist. From Chinatown, to Kampong glam, to Little India, these places are well-known heritage sites in Singapore reflecting the collage of cultures.
● Garden City:
Singapore is a bustling cosmopolitan city that offers a world-class living environment, with her landscape populated by high-rise buildings and gardens. Nature lovers can look forward to exploring the rainforests and wetlands for an undisturbed experience. Or simply wander through the many landscaped gardens and parks on the island, with some even offering a scenic view of the city from vantage points.
● Explore Singapore:
Located in Southeast Asia, Singapore has a land area of about 710 square kilometres, making her one of the smallest countries in the world and the smallest in the region. Although small in size, Singapore commands an enormous presence in the world today with its free trade economy and highly efficient workforce. Also, her strategic location in the region has enabled her to become a central sea port along major shipping routes.

The Republic of Singapore – 1965 Independence

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian sovereign city-state (one of only three in the world, and the only one that is also an island country) off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, 137 kilometres north of the equator. Made up of the diamond-shaped main island and many small islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to its south. The country is highly urbanised with very little primary rainforest remaining, although more land is being created for development through land reclamation.

Part of various local empires since being inhabited in the second century AD, modern Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the East India Company in 1819 with the permission from the Johor Sultanate. The British obtained sovereignty over the island in 1824 and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826. Occupied by the Japanese during World War II, Singapore declared independence from the United Kingdom, uniting with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963, although it was separated from Malaysia two years later. Since then, it has had a massive increase in wealth, and is one of the Four Asian Tigers.

Singapore is the world's fourth-leading financial centre, and its port is one of the five busiest ports in the world. The economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing, which constituted 26% of Singapore's GDP in 2005. In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore has the third-highest per capita income in the world.


Singapore is an important hub for the South-East Asian region. It has traditionally had a dynamic economy, with strong service and manufacturing sectors, and one of the highest per capita gross domestic products (GDP) in the world. Its airport, port and road systems are among the best in the world. Singapore's economy has always depended on international trade. Its major industries include electronics, financial services, oil drilling equipment, petroleum refining, pharmaceutical manufacturing, processed food and beverages, rubber products and ship repair. In recent years, the Government has moved to reduce reliance on the manufacture and export of electronics by developing its services sector, as well as its biotechnology, chemical and petrochemical industries.

Singapore's small population and dependence on external markets and suppliers has pushed it towards economic openness, free trade and free markets. This, as well as government policies that foster economic development, have been key factors in Singapore's historically strong economic performance. The Government has pursued an outward-looking, export-oriented economic policy that encourages two-way flows of trade and investment. Singapore's trade policy approach has been to work with like-minded countries such as Australia to advance the cause of free trade within international fora, particularly through the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as through regional fora such as ASEAN and APEC. Another integral part of Singapore's trade policy is its bilateral approach to developing FTAs with a range of states, including the FTA signed with Australia in 2003.

Population, Languages

Today, the ethnic Chinese form 74.2% of the Singaporean population, with the country’s original inhabitants, the Malays, comprising 13.3%. The Indians make up 9.2%, and Eurasians and Asians of different origins making up a combined 3.3%. Singapore is also home to many expatriates coming from countries as diverse as North America, Australia, Europe, China, Japan and India.

Almost everyone in Singapore speaks more than one language, with some speaking as many as three or four. Most children grow up bilingual from infancy, learning other languages as they become older. With the majority of the literate population bilingual, English and Mandarin are the most commonly used languages in daily life. While English is the main language taught in schools, children also learn their mother tongues to ensure that they stay in touch with their traditional roots.

For the Chinese majority, Mandarin is the main language instead of dialects like Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese and Foochow. Mandarin became the second most commonly spoken language among the Singaporean Chinese after the start of the Speak Mandarin campaign during 1979 that targeted the Chinese. In 1990s, efforts were undertaken to target the English-educated Chinese.

Peranakan Chinese Culture

Peranakan Chinese and Baba-Nyonya are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Indonesian archipelago and British Malaya (now Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore).

Members of this community in Melaka, Malaysia address themselves as "Nyonya Baba". Nyonya is the term for the women and Baba for the men. It applies especially to the ethnic Chinese populations of the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and the Dutch-controlled island of Java and other locations, who have adopted Nusantara customs — partially or in full — to be somewhat assimilated into the local communities. Many were the elites of Singapore, more loyal to the British than to China. Most have lived for generations along the straits of Malacca and most have a lineage where intermarriage with the local Indonesians and Malays have taken place. They were usually traders, the middleman of the British and the Chinese, or the Chinese and Malays, or vice versa because they were mostly English educated. Because of this, they almost always had the ability to speak two or more languages. In later generations, some lost the ability to speak Chinese as they became assimilated to the Malay Peninsula's culture and started to speak Malay fluently as a first or second language.


Education in Singapore is managed by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which controls the development and administration of state schools receiving government funding, but also has an advisory and supervisory role in respect of private schools. For both private and state schools, there are variations in the extent of autonomy in their curriculum, scope of government aid and funding, tuition burden on the students, and admission policy.

Education spending usually makes up about 20 per cent of the annual national budget, which subsidises state education and government-assisted private education for Singaporean citizens and funds the Edusave programme, the costs for which are significantly higher for non-citizens. In 2000 the Compulsory Education Act codified compulsory education for children of primary school age (excepting those with disabilities), and made it a criminal offence for parents to fail to enroll their children in school and ensure their regular attendance. Exemptions are allowed for homeschooling or full-time religious institutions, but parents must apply for exemption from the Ministry of Education and meet a minimum benchmark.

The main language of instruction in Singapore is English, which was officially designated the first language within the local education system in 1987. English is the first language learned by half the children by the time they reach preschool age and becomes the primary medium of instruction by the time they reach primary school. Although Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tamil are also official languages, English is the language of instruction for nearly all subjects except the official Mother Tongue languages and the literatures of those languages; these are generally not taught in English, although there is provision for the use of English at the initial stages. Certain schools, such as secondary schools under the Special Assistance Plan (SAP), encourage a richer use of the mother tongue and may occasionally teach subjects in Mandarin Chinese. A few schools have been experimenting with curricula that integrates language subjects with mathematics and the sciences, using both English and a second language. Singapore's education system has been described as "world-leading" and in 2010 was among those picked out for commendation by the British education minister Michael Gove.

Public housing

Public housing in Singapore is managed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The majority of the residential housing developments in Singapore are publicly governed and developed. About 85% of Singaporeans, or eight in 10 of the resident population live in such houses. These flats are located in housing estates, which are self-contained satellite towns with schools, supermarkets, clinics, hawker centres, and sports and recreational facilities. There are a large variety of flat types and layouts which cater to various housing budgets. HDB flats were built primarily to provide affordable housing for the masses and their purchase can be financially aided by the Central Provident Fund. Due to changing demands, there were more up-market public housing developments in recent years.

Public housing in Singapore is generally not considered as a sign of poverty or lower standards of living, as compared to public housing in other countries. Although they are cheaper than privately built homes in Singapore, they are also built in a variety of quality and finishes to cater to middle and upper middle income groups. Property prices for the smallest public housing can often be higher than privately owned and developed standalone properties (Townhouse, apartment unit etc.) in other developed countries after currency conversion. Even though the majority of residents live in public housing, very few are below the poverty line.

Singapore Chinese

Chinese Singaporeans or Singaporean Chinese (新加坡华人/ 新加坡華人), are people of full or partial Chinese – particularly Han Chinese – ethnicity who hold Singaporean nationality. As of 2011, Chinese Singaporeans constitute 74.1% of Singapore's resident population – approximately three out of four Singaporeans – making them the largest ethnic group in Singapore. Outside Greater China, Singapore is the only country in the world where ethnic Chinese constitute a majority of the population and they are well represented in all levels of Singaporean society, politically and economically. It is the home of the fifth largest community of Overseas Chinese, behind the Chinese communities in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the United States.

Ethnic Chinese in Singapore tend to identify themselves primarily as Singaporeans and only secondarily as Chinese; however, the Chinese language tends to view ethnic Chinese status as primary. Thus, the English terms "Chinese Singaporean" and "Singaporean Chinese" are used interchangeably. In the Chinese language, though, Chinese Singaporeans clearly distinguish themselves as full Chinese rather than overseas Chinese. A separate group is the Peranakan Chinese, who are the offspring of ethnic Chinese who had married the indigenous Malays and have developed a unique culture distinct from the Chinese majority. In general, the Chinese in Singapore are grouped according to their respective Chinese linguistic, cultural, or ancestral groups. The ancestral origins of the Chinese Singaporeans are diverse; some are identified by their linguistic group, others by their ancestral home.

Most of the Chinese in Singapore belong to several cultural groups, mostly from the south eastern coast of China in the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan. The Hoklo, Teochew, and Cantonese together form more than three-quarters of the Chinese population. The Hakka, Hainanese, and other groups account for most of the remainder. These are generally the descendants of the free and indentured immigrants from southern China during the 19th and early half of 20th century and are typically known as "'native' Singaporean Chinese". The 1990s and early 21st century saw Singapore experience a third wave of migration from different parts of China. Intermarriage between different ancestral Chinese groups is quite common in Singapore, but association of different cultural groups typically follows the ancestry of the father's side. For instance, if one's father is of Hokkien ancestry and another's mother is of Teochew ancestry, the children will tend to associate with other Hokkien. Some Chinese Singaporeans also tend to associate according to their clans and ancestral origins, as seen in the Singapore Chinese Clan Associations.


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