Singapore is an island nation state, has a population of 4.8 m. Being a relatively young nation (Singapore celebrated its 44 years of independence last August) has translated it into modern living & a very cosmopolitan country under systematic planning. What is unique about Singapore is its integration of 3 different major races into its predominantly Chinese society.
Education Singapore is a country I'm extremely familiar with, having spent 6 years of my high school here. The foundation built from this very strict form of schooling (patented after the British system of teaching, ie. we have to sit for GCE 'O' & 'A' Levels) helped me in my undergraduate studies in University of Toronto. English & Mathematics are 2 of the main pillars of learning here.
Education in Singapore is a serious matter. Ask any parents & they'll tell you that they have to take leave from work during the examination period, which is almost once every quarter! That coupled with the frenzy involved in getting children into the very top schools had some parents camped out overnight at schools for a chance to enter the very best schools (& we are not even talking about University!). This is at the very basic entry level!!!
Anyway, this phenomenon has produced many top scholars & leaders. With such a short history, Singapore is constantly evolving to fit into the new world. You certainly must give credit to the Singaporean's ability to adept to change; be it in the society, thought processes, types of occupational training, even family planning!
Financial Center Two major successes (in my opinion) of Singapore is its financial policies & visionary tactics. Singapore is the regional financial center of South East Asia. Its banks, though not big by world standard, are those that practise due diligence & governance. Many investors around the region have their money parked here. The Singapore Exchange (encompassing Forex & Stock Exchange) turnover has increased over the years to rival those of Hong Kong, Tokyo, London & New York.
The government's initiative to gear its manufacturing industry into contract manufacturing & semi-conductor fields have yielded large foreign reserves for the country. It's coffer of savings is one of the highest in the world, after Japan & Taiwan. So, for an island with such a young population, Singapore has certainly done well by any standard!
Aging Population One major concern about this country is its aging population. Singapore is currently taking steps to prepare for this by importing many foreign talents to deal with its high-growth economy of last decade (averaging 9-10% p.a. early in the decade but has now dipped into recession in the last 2 years). Hence, you'll see many Australians, Americans & Europeans working in Singapore. Many westerners (outside the country) have the belief that the government interferes much and there's really no true democracy in Singapore. But, who better than the citizens & voters themselves should decide as to what form of governance they want/need. Perhaps, the one party (a strong one for that matter) does have a strong influence on what kind of changes that are being filtered through, but at least it's not one that is corrupted! My View: leave the voters to decide for themselves. As an outsider, we are here only to enjoy the modern infrastructure and distinctive flavors of the country. Not necessary to get oneself into unfruitful alliances or even enemies for that matter.
The last 3 years have seen its population skyrocketed from 3+ millions to almost 5 millions. There was almost 2 millions of influx of foreigners (mostly Indians and Chinese). Personally, I don't feel this is good as its infrastructure is no longer able to cope; be it the subways or the hospitals. Singapore is now overcrowded and living standard is ultra high, despite it being in recession! This is a major concern to many.
Food FOOD! Whew, you sure get a variety here. So much so that eating has been a fanatic pasttime. Chinese, Malay, Indian, Italian, French, German, Russian, Brazilian, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, American, etc... you name it, they have it!
Shopping SHOPPING! This is Singaporeans major pastime. Everyone goes shopping in the weekends, some even in the weekdays! Tourists flocked here to buy branded items as well as electronics. IMHO, it's no longer as attractive as it used to be since the country implemented its GST scheme. From 3% to 5% and now 7%! That's too much! An Asian country with GST? That's crazy!
Most expensive in the world! One thing you don't buy is a car... Whoa, the most expensive in the world! (For your info, buying one car here is equivalent to buying 5 in the U.S.!!!) Especially for a country that has the most advanced & convenient transportation system in the world! Public transport is as efficient & compelling. Stay clear of peak hours & you'll have a very smooth ride! There's no need to buy a car. However, it's a luxury item in many Singaporeans' perception and it indicates one has made it in life! Vanity is certainly expensive here!
Downgrading it two notches as the place got so crowded these days that it's no longer a nice city to hang around, not to mention the prices of most things are at least 20% higher than in Hong Kong. In fact, some essentials like shampoos and toothpastes are almost double the price of those in Hong Kong. This is NOT "progress"!!!
It's a love-hate relationship for me, this island of 45 year old. For one thing, it boosted a GDP of some 15% in 2010 and its currency is at the strongest against the HK$ (& US$). For another, it's a place which I had called home for majority of my life. How this country will advance in a world of uncertainty is beyond anyone's guess. It has done better than any Asian country (other than China) and it's expected to still perform. Nonetheless, there's always a BUT... I don't think I can put it into … more
Last night I realized that a decade ago, nearly to the day, I changed my life drastically. In January 2000 I decided to forge ahead with the idea of writing a book about botanical gardens even though I didn't have a contract in hand. This would mean, I knew, trying to finance the necessary international travel out of travel writing and other bits and pieces, and traveling by myself to some far off countries. (Lee hates airplanes and it took much persuading to get him to join me in France eventually. … more
Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, 137 kilometres (85 mi) north of the equator, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of Indonesia's Riau Islands. At 710.2 km2 (274.2 sq mi), Singapore is a microstate and the smallest nation in Southeast Asia. It is substantially larger than Monaco and Vatican City, the only other surviving sovereign city-states.
Before European settlement, the island now known as Singapore was the site of a Malay fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several hundred indigenous Orang Laut people also lived along the nearby coast, rivers and on smaller islands. In 1819, the British East India Company, led by Sir Stamford Raffles, established a trading post on the island, which was used as a port along the spice route. Singapore became one of the most important commercial and military centres of the British Empire, and the hub of British power in Southeast Asia.
During the Second World War, the British colony was occupied by the Japanese after the Battle of Singapore, which Winston Churchill called "Britain's greatest defeat". Singapore reverted to British rule in 1945, immediately after the war. Eighteen years later, in 1963, the city, having achieved independence from Britain, merged with Malaya, Sabah, and Sarawak to form Malaysia. However, Singapore's merger proved unsuccessful, and, less than two years later, it seceded from ...