Singapore, founded as a British trading colony in 1819, declared its independence on 9 August 1965. Over the next three decades, Singapore worked hard to overcome numerous hurdles, and is now a highly developed market-based economy.
Located right in the heart of Asia, Singapore thrives as a financial and trading hub for the region and beyond. Through global trade links and establishments of Free Trade Areas, ties with Asia and the rest of the world are continually strengthened.
Although Singapore has transformed into a cosmopolitan city, it has not lost its Asian charms. A multicultural and multiethnic society, its hospitality, cuisine, arts and architecture reflect a blend of the East and West.
Singapore has a population of about 4.4 million, of which one-fifth comprises non-resident workers and expatriates. The resident population is multicultural, comprising 75.6% Chinese, 13.6% Malay, 8.7% Indians and 2.1% of various races.
The four official languages in Singapore are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. English is the working language and is widely spoken throughout Singapore.
The Singapore Standard Time Zone is GMT plus 8 hours.
Singapore is known for its hot and humid weather, with little variation throughout the year. The average daytime temperature is 31ºC (88ºF), dropping to around 24ºC (75ºF) in the evenings. The monsoon season can bear down pretty heavily on this tropical weather from November onwards, so be prepared for rain on a daily basis during this period.
The currency used in Singapore is the Singapore dollar (SGD). Money changing services can be found not only at the Singapore Changi Airport but also most shopping centres and hotels around the island. You can also access the automated teller machines (ATMs) located everywhere (even in the most obscure bits) in Singapore, that accept most of the main credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Banking hours are:
Mondays to Fridays: 1000 hrs to 1500 hrs.
Saturdays: 0930 hrs to 1300 hrs (some banks are open until 1500 hrs).
Sundays: 0930 hrs to 1500 hrs (some banks in Orchard Road).
Singapore voltage is 220-240 volts AC, 50 cycles per second. On request, most hotels will provide transformers to visitors with electrical appliances of a different voltage, such as 110-120 volts, 60 cycles per second.
Cell Phone Usage
Singapore’s international dialing code is +(65). While in Singapore and if you have international roaming service on your cell phone, you don’t have to press +(65) as it will automatically connect you to the local numbers here.
Besides air-conditioned areas such as shopping centres, restaurants, entertainment outlets and cinemas, smoking is also an offence on the SMRT (Singapore Mass Rapid Transit system), public buses, taxis and in lifts. Recently, the smoking ban has also been imposed on public eateries and within a five-metre radius from most building entrances, except for allocated smoking areas that are clearly marked with bright yellow paint. A maximum fine of SGD1,000 may be imposed on first-time offenders.