Sunday, 2 June 2013

Hold your breath for this one! A swimming pool on the 57th floor!

Singapore is located at a distance of 137 kilometres (85 miles) to the north of the equator. This island country is a city-state in Southeast Asia, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Straits of Johor in the north separate Singapore from Malaysia, while the Singapore Strait in the south separates it from Indonesia's Riau Islands.
Singapore ranks as the world's fourth leading financial centre and its port is one of the five busiest ports in the world. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore has the best quality of life in Asia and eleventh in the world.

Singapore has been named after its founder, Sang Nila Utama. The island country, also known as the Lion City, was first inhabited in the 2nd century AD. During this time, the island remained an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya Empire. Singapore became a part of the Sultanate of Johor, Malaysia, between the 16th and early 19th centuries.

Portuguese raiders destroyed the settlement at the mouth of the Singapore River in 1613. Thereafter, the island remained isolated for two centuries. Thomas Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore in 1819 and signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah on behalf of the British East India Company. The treaty outlined the development of Singapore as a British trading post and settlement.

Singapore was made a British colony on 2nd August 1824 by John Crawfurd. Thereafter, it became a part of the Straits Settlements, a British colony in 1826. After British capitulation in the Battle of Singapore during World War II, it was invaded by the Imperial Japanese Army. The British repossessed the island on 12th September 1945.

In 1955, the first general elections were held in Singapore. The country declared its independence from Britain on 31st August 1963. Singapore was granted sovereignty on 9th August 1965.

Singapore is an island country that is composed of 63 islands, including mainland Singapore which is officially known as Pulau Ujong. The Johor–Singapore Causeway in the north and the Tuas Second Link in the west are the two man-made connections between Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore's largest islands are Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa.

The highest natural summit in Singapore is Bukit Timah Hill that is 166 metres above sea level. Nearly 23% of the land area consists of forest and nature reserves. After its urbanisation, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is the largest remaining forest in Singapore.

Due to extensive immigration from various parts of the world, Singapore has become a multi-racial country. The diverse cultures that have significantly influenced Singapore are Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians, Filipinos, Burmese, Japanese and Thais.

Being a multicultural country, Singapore celebrates Chinese, Muslim, Indian and Christian festivals. The Dragon Boat Festival is a popular event that is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. Some other important festivals include Hungry Ghost Festival, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Art festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.

Singapore also holds other festivals like Singapore Food Festival, the Singapore Grand Prix and the Chingay Parade. Singapore Jewel Festival, the World Gourmet Summit, Singapore Sun Festival and ZoukOut also attract numerous tourists from across the world.

Tourism is a major sector in Singapore and is managed by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), for which the Merlion was designed by Mr. Fraser Brunner. The Merlion has a lion head, which symbolises the legend of the rediscovery of Singapore, and a fish body resting on a crest of waves.

There is no particular tourist season in Singapore which is visited by tourists throughout the year. However, most tourists prefer to visit Singapore during the festive seasons.    

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