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Singapore is a real mix of languages, religions, cultures, economies, and food. Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, and English are the official languages used variously by the Buddhists, Shenists, Taoists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs who live there.

Ever since 1819, when Sir Stamford Raffles talked the British government into supporting a small colony on the Malay Peninsula as a trade and military post, this city-state has increased in power and prestige. Singapore remains famous for markets and trading, but today the merchandise may be software or chips, or stocks and bonds as much as oil and rubber.

Though Singapore has been independent since 1965, the colonial past has not completely disappeared; you can still have a Singapore sling at the perpetual Raffles Hotel bar, but you now look out on an ultra-clean city of glass-faced offices, modern buses, and subways instead of at whitewashed wood and rickshaws.

Destination Guides

Shopping is the dominant sport, both in the ethnic shops of China Town, Arab Street, and Little India and in the upscale shopping centers of Orchard Road. Attractive museums and a wide range of religious holidays and festivals may feed your craving for meaning and celebration. Changi Village, Pulau Ubin island, and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve might satisfy your desires for nature and solitude. But the variety and power of the culinary mixtures in Singapore will blow your taste buds away.

For detailed highlights of Singapore, see our Featured Destination Guides.

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