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Singapore Introduction

Singapore Overview

Lying almost on the equator, Singapore is a thriving city-state that has overcome its dearth of natural resources to become one of the juggernaut economies of Asia. In the crowded streets of Chinatown, fortune tellers, calligraphers and temple worshippers are still a part of everyday life. In Little India, you can buy the best sari material, freshly ground spices or a picture of your favourite Hindu god. In the small shops of Arab Street, the cry of the imam can be heard from the nearby Sultan Mosque.

Singapore may have traded in its rough-and-ready opium dens and pearl luggers for towers of concrete and glass, and its steamy rickshaw image for hi-tech wizardry, but you can still recapture the colonial era with a gin sling under the languorous ceiling fans at Raffles Hotel. It is this carefully stage-managed combination of Western modernity and treasured Eastern and colonial past that makes Singapore such an accessible slice of Asia.

Local Area Information

The Republic of Singapore is made up of the main island of Singapore and 60 other smaller islands.

With a total area of 253 square miles (655 square kilometers), the main island resides a population of 3.87 million. Singapore measures a maximum 26 miles (42 kilometers) from East to West and 14 miles (23 kilometers) from North to South.

Lying close to the southern part of Malaysia, the two countries are linked by 2 causeways.

Geographical Information

Singapore lies close to the southern extremity of the Eurasian tectonic plate and the northeast extension of the Sumatra-Java oceanic trench.


English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil


3.87 million


Foreigners holding travel documents issued by certain countries require either a Business or Social visa.

(For more information, please visit the Singapore Immigration website :


Travelers enjoy Duty-Free concessions if they:

  • are at least 18 years old
  • have arrived from countries other than Malaysia
  • have been away from Singapore for at least 48 hours

The Singapore Customs and Excise Department collects a 3% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on all goods imported into Singapore.

GST relief is given for all new purchases as a tourist or returning Citizen/Permanent Resident of Singapore.


The unit of currency is the Singapore dollar. Most shops and entertainment outlets accepted major credit cards and travelers checks.

Use our Currency Converter to check the exchange rate that corresponds to your local currency.


There is a 3% Goods and Services Tax imposed in major shops and departments, with an additional of 10% service charge in restaurants, 1% government tax is also added in hotels.


There is no need to tip if a 10% service charge is already added to the bill. If not, tipping is up to ones preferences.

Public phones

Most public phones accept coins or phonecards purchased from bookstalls and newsagents, with a minimum value of S$2.00.

Mobile phones