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Singapore

Lion City - Intermediate




S ingapore is a country with a diverse cultural heritage made up of around 60 islands between Malaysia and Indonesia. 74% of the people in Singapore are Chinese, 13% are Malay and 9% are Indian. Because of this diversity, there are four official languages in Singapore: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. While many religions are represented in Singapore, a third of the country is Buddhist. The island nation has a population of 5.8 million in an area of 719 square kilometers. It is also known as the most expensive city in the world.

Singapore has had many names throughout its long history. One of the earliest recorded names is “Pulau Ujong” which in the Malay language means “island at the end”. The main island of Singapore is still known by this name today. There are also records of a trading area known as “Temasek” on the island around 1300. The name Singapore comes from the Sanskrit, “Singapura” which means “lion town”. A local prince is said to have given the area this name after seeing a lion. However, it seems unlikely lions ever lived in the area. Some believe what he actually saw was a tiger. Today Singapore is known as the “Little Red Dot” because of how the city is represented on world maps, or the “Garden City” because of the city's abundance of plants and gardens.

Two men greatly influenced the growth and development of Singapore, Stanford Raffles, and Lee Kuan Yew. Stanford established the city as a trading post for the British East India Company in 1819. This began Singapore’s more than a 100-year relationship with England. Raffles is credited for much of the planning and development of the city. His name can still be seen throughout the city today.  

Lee Kuan Yew was the Prime Minister of Singapore for 30 years starting in 1959. He helped form the political group known as the “People’s Action Party” or PAP and is considered Singapore’s founding father. He pushed the country towards independence, built a strong education system, improved social programs, including public transportation and housing. Today Singapore has one of the best public transportation systems in the world.

Singapore gained their independence in 1965. Shortly after, the country made a commitment to keep Singapore green. Today 10% of the small island is reserved for parks and nature areas. The “Singapore Botanic Gardens” are a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has over 10,000 types of pants. The park was created in 1859 and today gets more than 4.5 million visitors a year. Another beautiful place to visit in Singapore is the “Gardens by the Bay”. This 101 hectares natural park was built in 2012 and was the inspiration for a scene in the 2014 movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”.  Today Singapore is known as a center for business, trade and transportation in Asia.


Source: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/singapore

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sn.html

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