The Republic of Singapore
Mysterious and fabulous Asia has hidden in its broad lands a small country Singapore. Among unique Eastern cultures, it looks like some kind of Western Europe oasis. The fact is that Singapore has become a country, an island and a city, where a few cultures and religions, on the face of it incompatible, have tightly intertwined. In this country, along with skyscrapers you can see houses made in the Chinese style, Muslim mosques, statues of Hindu gods, and domes of Catholic churches. However, you can notice the indigenous Malay culture here. The Merlion, a statue of mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, is considered to be the symbol of Singapore, and is placed at the debouchments of the river of the same name and is the guardian of the island state.
Singapore is an ancient country, the first mention of which has been dated to the 3rd century. Originally, this island was part of the Great China Empire, later it went to the Sultanate of Johor, and in the late 19th century became a colony of the British Empire. After World War II the Singapore's land and its resources were completely plundered. However, for thirty years, Singapore has grown from a Third World country to a country with high living standards and advanced technologies.
Now the island state of Singapore, which includes more than 58 islands, is considered the pearl of South-East Asia. The state of Singapore is completely separated from the mainland by the Strait of Johor, and by the Singapore Strait from the islands of Indonesia. Singapore and the Malay Peninsula are connected by a causeway. An interesting fact is that over the last 50 years, the Singapore’s land area increased from 581 km² to 778 km² that was caused by the project of land reclamation in order to merge small islands and create new ones.
Singapore is divided into districts, each with its own features. BCD is a business centre of Singapore, where you can find a lot of skyscrapers and other buildings made in the Western European style. You are advised to visit the Victoria Theatre, a huge Victorian building, as well as the large Empress Place Building, which, like most buildings in this city part, was built in the 19th century.
Another important district of the country is Orchard Road. A few kilometres along this street you may find all kinds of shops, supermarkets and shopping centres. Orchard Road is also famous thanks to the Mandai Orchid Garden, a botanical garden, where you can enjoy beauty of 60,000 these beautiful flowers.
Be sure to visit ethnic areas of Singapore, where you can feel the unique local city colour. In Chinatown you'll see beautiful and majestic Buddhist temples, many ethnic shops and houses, which represent the Chinese culture and lifestyle of the island. Here you can buy all sorts of ethnic goods and walk through the narrow cosy streets. Another ethnic quarter is Little India, located northward the city centre. Here you can feel flavours of Indian cuisine’s herbs and spices. Little India is also a home of unique temples, including the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple, better known as the Temple of 1,000 Lights.
Kampong Glam is a Muslim quarter of Singapore. It attracts tourists with its shops, where silks, woollen cloth, carpets and other fabrics are sold. In addition, the main attraction of this area is the Mosque of Sultan Masjid, adorned with a huge golden cupola.
Singapore isn’t only the cultural country, but also the one, where you can enjoy beauty of nature due to its parks, gardens and conservation areas. Not far from the country centre you can visit Singapore Zoo, which is a home to over two thousand animals. Hidden barriers, glass walls and moats are there to introduce the “open concept” so you could learn the animals’ life in their natural environment. It should be mentioned, Singapore parks are decorated according to different styles and traditions.
If you prefer to rest on a beach, you are well advised to go to the islands, located closer to the equator. The most popular resort island of Singapore is Sentosa. Three kilometres of white sand beaches are there for you at day and your nights you can spend in bars, night clubs, and discos. Sentosa Island is considered to be a Singapore Disneyland due to its vast territory and large number of park amusements.
The variety of local cuisine impresses as well. One menu can offer satay – a Malay skewered meat, Peking duck, lobster stuffed with pineapple, chicken with satay rice – a local kebab, and much more. Be sure to taste the main local fruit – durian. Its form has inspired architects of the glass theatre, located in the centre of the city.
Singapore has also gained its fame thanks to colourful and fun carnivals and festivals. The most colourful of them is the holiday in honour of Chinese New Year. Spring and summer festivals of Indian art and dance are interesting as well. And in winter the Muslim holiday Ramadan is celebrated. In autumn you should visit the festival of Diwali, an Indian festival of lights, and the carnival in honour of the Chinese Monkey God’s birth. Just remember that during the celebration all the shops and other establishments are closed.
Be sure to visit Singapore, where you can see the unique cultures of three nations, rest at the seaside, enjoy shopping, taste local cuisine in ethnic areas and walk in the unusual Singapore parks and gardens.