Culture in Singapore

Discover the fascinating culture of Singapore

Since Singapore is still a relatively new and developing country it does not have a strong independent culture. Most of the people who live here are of Malay, Chinese, Indian or Arab decent - and there is very little intermarriage between these cultures. There is also a steady growth of Eurasian people in the country. There is also a community of Peranakan people who are of mixed Chinese and Malay descent. With these cultural groups living in close proximity to one another, there has been a measure of cultural mixing and diversity. This is perhaps most evident in the various kinds of food found in the country.

Much of the architecture is relatively modern. Skyscrapers and brick houses seem to dominate the landscape. Within the city you will find several ethnic neighborhoods, such as Chinatown and Little India. These areas were initially formed as part of a plan of segregation but different cultures now mix freely. Instead these neighborhoods are mainly used for the sale of commercial goods or foods specifically related to that ethnic group's culture. This means the neighborhoods see a lot of mixed traffic.

Two items which may stand out to visitors are the 'water taxis' and the 'trishaws' used as transport in the country. They provide a good income for many as well as a novel experience for visitors. Getting people to understand you is usually not too difficult as English is spoken throughout the country. You may find that many speak an unusual form of the language known as 'Singlish' in which many words and grammatical rules from other languages have been employed making the language very versatile. Most people can speak, read and write either British or American English as it is taught as a first language in schools.

Generally speaking, Singapore is quite a permissive country where intolerance of other cultures and religious beliefs is strongly discouraged. The Housing Development Board had tried to ensure that there is a thorough mixture of races in all housing districts and this has in turn lead to better co-operation and a greater level of national loyalty. In fact, the country encourages not only tolerance but harmony between the different races. A variety of religious groups are allowed to practice their faith openly but a few unorthodox religious groups have been banned from the country. One of the few areas where Singapore is restrictive is in their banning of Male homosexual intercourse. Though it has been the subject of hot debate, the Singapore Government claims that the majority of the population is bisexual and conservative.

Modern Singapore has been promoted as a cultural center where art, theatre and music are enjoyed. Due to the mixed nature of the country, these performances and artworks are usually diverse and very enjoyable as well as eye-opening. In 2003, the Esplanade or "Theatres on the Bay" was opened. This center for performing arts is also sometimes known as "The Durian". Singapore has also recently lifted its ban on gambling, bar-top dancing and bungee jumping in order to attract more tourists to the country.


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