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“There isn’t anywhere else on Earth where people confluence – like the way they do in Singapore. From visitors and transients to citizens, this progressive island and gateway to South East Asia is a dynamic mix of cultures, ideas and histories neither ethnic nor exotic, instead, the essence of modern Asia – sparklingly savvy, with a touch of old school. The first-time visitor should expect to be
surprised, confused, and, charmed.”
Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, is a global financial centre with a tropical climate and multicultural population. In circa-1820 Chinatown stands the red-and-gold Buddha’s Tooth Relic Temple, Little India offers colorful souvenirs and Arab Street is lined with fabric shops. Singapore is also known for eclectic street fare, served in hawker centres such as Tiong Bahru and Maxwell Road.
According to the Constitution of Singapore, the four official languages of Singapore are Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English, while the national language is Malay. The three languages other than English were chosen to correspond with the major ethnic groups present in Singapore at the time: Mandarin had gained status since the introduction of Chinese-medium schools; Malay was deemed the “most obvious choice” for the Malay community; and Tamil for the largest Indian ethnic group in Singapore, in addition to being “the language with the longest history of education in Malaysia and Singapore”. In 2009, more than 20 languages were identified as being spoken in Singapore, reflecting a rich linguistic diversity in the city. Singapore’s historical roots as a trading settlement gave rise to an influx of foreign traders, and their languages were slowly embedded in Singapore’s modern day linguistic repertoire.
The Singapore dollar (Malay: Ringgit Singapura, sign: $; code: SGD) is the official currency of Singapore. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively S$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 cents.