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Singapura (14th Century - 1819)

 The island was originally known as Temasek. In the 14th century, a prince from Sumatra named Sang Nila Utama landed on her shores. While hunting, he saw a beast which had red body, black head and a white breast. His well-learned advisors told him that the strange animal is a lion (even though lions are not known to be found here, ever). Thinking that it is a good omen, he decided to build his new city here, and renamed it Singa-pura: Sanskrit for 'Lion City'.


Singapore Under British Colonial Rule (1819 - 1942)

In 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles signed a treaty with Sultan Tengku Long, for the British to recognise him as the Sultan of Johor in return for the rights for the British to set up a trading post there. As such, modern Singapore was founded in 1819. Sir Raffles established Singapore as a free port and Singapore thrived under the British rule. Ships from all over the world came here to trade for spices, rubber and palm oil. Also, there was an influx of Chinese  immigrants here to work as 'coolies' (i.e. labourers). Town planning was carried out. Til today, some of the houses that were built then, could still be found near the Boat Quay area.


World War II: Japanese Occupation (1942 - 1945)

During World War II, the British expected the Japanese to launch a coastal attack from the southern coast. It was thought that Singapore was an 'impregnable fortress', and drew comparisons as the 'Gibraltar in the Far East'. However, when the Japanese attacked via Malaya on bicycles, it caught the British off-guard. On 15 February 1942, the surrender treaty was signed between Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival and Lieutenant-General Yamashita Tomoyuki in the Ford Factory at the foot of Bukit Timah Hill. Many local (esp. the Chinese) and the local volunteer corp were tortured and killed. The British Army, which comprised of British, Indian, and Australians, were sent to Changi Prison, while some were sent to work on the Burma-Thailand railway project.

On the 12th September 1945, the Japanese surrendered. The surrender treaty was signed between Lord Louis Mountbatten (Supreme Allied Commander) and General Itagaki Seishiro in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Buildings. The Japanese occupation was officially over after 3 years and 8 months.


Communism, Racial Riots, Malaya, Independence (1945 - 1965)

Following the return to British rule, Singapore's economy started to recover again. However, it also marked a turbulent period. Communist influence was growing. Racial riots and labour strikes were rife. Anti-colonialism and nationalist sentiments grew. In 1959, Singapore's independence from British rule was granted after the elections, which was won by the People's Action Party (PAP). On 16 September 1963, Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak merged to form the Federation of Malaysia. But the differences in ideals between the PAP and Malaysia's leading party, UMNO, grew wider. Shortly after the merger, on 9 August 1965, Singapore was unglamourously kicked out of Malaysia. This date also marks the country's National Day.


The Republic of Singapore (1965 - onwards)

Singapore faced a daunting task in the early days of independence, with no natural resources to work with. The major ruling political party was (and still is) the People's Action Party (PAP), and was led by then-Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew. Under his leadership, the country transformed herself to attact major manufacturing companies to setup factories here. The financial sector also became one of the leading financial centres in Asia. The country was turned from a third-world nation to what it is today, within a relatively short time.



There are 4 major races in Singapore: Chinese, Malay, Indians, and (a race which are affectionately called..) Others.

A majority of the Singaporeans are Chinese, followed by Malays and Indians. The "others" are made up of Caucasian, Eurasians (people with mixed European and Asian heritage), Peranakans (straits born Chinese), etc.

Over the years, the Singaporean Government has been pretty successful in encouraging foreign talents to work and stay here by handing out work permit and Permanent Resident (PR). So, it is very common to be standing next to people from Malaysia, China, India, and all other parts of the world, while travelling around.



Almost everyone here understands English. English is the primary language that is taught in schools. All subjects (like Maths and Science) are taught in English. Most people are also able to speak "Good English", thanks to the Government's nationwide campaign - the "Speak Good English Movement". However, a local "variant" of the English language- called Singlish, is widely spoken. Singlish is primarily still based upon the English language. But due to the multicultural heritage, Singlish has borrowed many grammar and vocabulary from Chinese Dialects, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil. You probably will get to hear a lot more Singlish, when you visit the small shops and speak with the "aunties" in the heartland area.

Although the national language is Malay, not everyone speaks Malay. The Malay language used here is closer to the one used in Malaysia, than that used in Indonesia (the Bahasa Indonesia). Generally, apart from Malays, some local Indians and some older Chinese folks are able to speak and understand a little bit of Malay.

For Indians, the Tamil language is taught in schools. 

Most Chinese understands Mandarin. Some can speak various Chinese dialects like Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese and Hakka.



 It is hot and humid in Singapore. It is either hot or it rains. But during certain periods of the year, the weather can be quite good where it is somewhere in between. According to the local met services, the average humidity is 84%. Minimum temperature is 23 to 26 deg C and the Maximum is 31 to 34 deg C.  


Internet/ Wireless@SG

All business class hotels should have Internet facilities either in the rooms or in their business centres.

 You can also pay an hourly rate at Internet access shops or 'LAN gaming shops' to access your emails. These shops are quite common and can be found near shopping centres.

If you have brought along your notebook/ laptop/ PDA/ Smartphone during your travel, you can drop by any major shopping centres to connect to the wireless Internet for free. This is part of the Wireless@SG intiative. The Wireless@SG is a wireless broadband program, which allows people surf the Net for free at places like shopping centres, restaurants, food courts, etc. But note that the connection can sometimes be very slow, and in some places, the network may be down. 

To access the Wireless@SG network, you need to be a registered user of one of these 3 providers: iCELL , QMAX and SingTel . If you are a tourist, use your Passport number to register. 

To start surfing using Wireless@SG, you need a WiFi enabled device. Scan and select "Wireless@SG". If the network is not found, it means that your area is not covered. Click here for the areas covered by Wireless@SG. After connecting to the network, launch your favourite Internet Browser. A login page will appear. Select the provider which you have registered for (iCELL, QMAX or SingTel) and login. Voila! You're now online!

There is also free Internet access at Changi Airport at the transit lounge after you check in.



 The 230V/50Hz British plug is used.

Typical Wall Socket

British 3 Pin Plug
British 2 Pin Plug













Do's and Don't s

 Singapore is infamous for being a "fine" city. There is a ban on chewing gums, spitting, littering, not flushing in public toilets, smoking in unauthorised places, etc. However, most of these laws are there to deter people from doing things that will bring inconvenience to everyone else. We've left out some of the don'ts which doesn't really apply to the majority of all tourists. Generally, as long as you are not creating a nuisance of yourself or not commiting a crime or you are not a terrorist, everything else you do should be ok.  


  • Dress casually (but not skimpily. Toplessness is not allowed, even on beaches.). Except for fine dining restaurants, nightspots and attending concerts, Singaporeans are not very particular about the dress code.
  • Do bring along a small umbrella when you travel. The rain and the sun can be quite unpredictable at times.
  • When flying out of the country, if you have any liquid bottles, aerosol cans or gel in your hand carried luggage, you are required to place them into a resealable plastic bag. Any bottles more than 100ml should be checked-in with your luggage.


  • Do not smoke in air-con places. This is strictly implemented here. Smoking is also banned in clubs and pubs.
  • At hawker centres, if you order food from both Malay and Chinese stalls, avoid using utensils from the Malay stalls to eat the Chinese food and vice versa. This is for religious reasons.
  • Do not bring drugs and contrabands into the country. There is a mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking.
  • Do not bring explosive, weapons or replicas of weapons into or out of the country.
  • Do not spit, chew gum or litter, cos you may get fined for it.
  • And finally, do not leave baggage unattended in public places. Singapore is a safe place. Your baggage will not get stolen. But in view of the recent terrorist events around the world, someone may suspect that it is a bomb and call the police, who in turn, will evacuate the building and send the whole bomb disposal unit to check your bag out. After which, the police will send you in for questioning and that will ruin your holiday.

Tipping: Tipping is not a compulsory culture here. But if you decide to give tips for good services rendered, you'll help make a waiter/ waitress's day.

Have a nice trip!


(c) Copyright 2007. Sunshine Traveller.com.


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