Essay About Singapore Culture And Religion

The culture of Singapore is a combination of Asian and European cultures. Influenced by Malay, South Asian, East Asian, and Eurasian cultures, Singapore has been dubbed as a country where "East meets West", "Easy Asia" and "Garden city". [1]


Main article: History of Singapore

See also: Demographics of Singapore

Singapore history dates back to the third century. It was a vassal state of various empires before being reestablished and renamed by Sang Nila Utama. The island was ruled by various sultanates until 1819, when the British came to the island and set up a port and colony. During British rule, the port of Singapore flourished and attracted many migrants. After independence in 1965, Singapore made its own way.

It has a diverse populace of over 5.47 million people[2] which is made up of Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Eurasians (plus other mixed groups) and Asians of different origins.

Attitudes and beliefs[edit]


"The system of meritocracy in Singapore ensures that the best and brightest, regardless of race, religion and socio-economic background, are encouraged to develop to their fullest potential. Everyone has access to education, which equips them with skills and knowledge to earn a better living."[3] Indeed, the Education in Singapore ensures that primary education is compulsory for all children of age 7 to 12. Parents have to apply for exemptions from the Ministry of Education in Singapore in order to exempt their children under this compulsory rule with valid reasonings.

Social harmony[edit]

Singapore is a secular immigrant country. The main religions in Singapore are Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Respect for different religions and personal beliefs is heavily emphasised by the government.[4]

To demonstrate the importance of imparting racial harmony knowledge to the youths, schools in Singapore celebrate Racial Harmony Day on 21 July annually. Students come to school dressed in different ethnic costumes, and some classes prepare performances regarding racial harmony.

Democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality[edit]

Main article: Politics of Singapore

See also: Human rights in Singapore

The concepts of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality are enshrined as stars in the Singapore national flag. Freedom in the World ranked Singapore 4 out of 7 for political freedom, and 4 out of 7 for civil liberties (where 1 is the most free), with an overall ranking of "partly free". Reporters without Borders ranked Singapore 153th out of 180 countries in their Press Freedom Index for 2015.[5]

Ethnic areas[edit]

Singapore has several distinct ethnic neighbourhoods, including Kampong Glam, Geylang Serai, Chinatown and Little India.

Both Geylang Serai and Kampong Glam are the focal points of the Malays in Singapore.[6] A Malay Heritage Centre in Kampung Glam showcases the history and cultural exposure of the Malays[7], which are indigenous to the land.[8] Both areas feature an annual month long Hari Raya Bazaar, during the fasting month of Ramadan. And is patronized by Malays and also other races.[9]

Little India is known and patronised by all races within the population for its thalis-- South Indian "buffets" that are vegetarian and served on the traditional bananaleaves. These neighbourhoods are accessible by public transport, especially by Mass Rapid Transit (MRT).

Singapore's Chinatown is an ethnic neighbourhood featuring distinctly Chinese cultural elements and a historically concentrated ethnic Chinese population. Chinatown is located within the larger district of Outram.

Ethnic enclaves from the British colonial era, akin to those seen in major cities in many Western countries, are largely non-existent. The remnant "enclaves" such as Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam are now mainly business hubs for their respective ethnic groups and preserved for historic and cultural reasons. The Housing Development Board enforces the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) to "preserve Singapore’s multi-cultural identity and promote racial integration and harmony" and sets proportions for each ethnic group in each housing estate.[10]

Cultural policy[edit]

Singapore maintains tight restrictions on arts and cultural performances. Most artistic works have to be vetted by the government in advance, and topics that breach so-called out of bounds markers (OB markers) are not permitted. While the OB markers are not publicly defined, they are generally assumed to include sensitive topics such as race, religion, and allegations of corruption or nepotism in government. Nudity and other forms of loosely defined "obscenity" are also banned. Singaporean film director Royston Tan has produced movies which challenge these policies, including a movie called Cut in reference to censorship of the arts.[11]

The country's first pre-tertiary arts school, School of the Arts, is now completed and stands along the country's prominent Orchard Road. Commenced in 2008, the school aims to provide an environment for nurturing young artists aged between 13 and 18 years old. There has been much public rhetoric about liberalisation and its association with the development of a creative economy in Singapore. The response from artists, academics, public intellectuals, and civil society activists has ranged from strongly optimistic to deeply pessimistic, as reflected in the chapters written for edited book Renaissance Singapore: Economy, Culture, and Politics. The difference between what is "culture" and what makes up "the arts" has been a matter of some debate in Singapore. For an attempt at defining what is artistic, see, for example, the Report of the Censorship Review Committee 1992.[12]

Cultural World Heritage Sites[edit]

Main article: List of World Heritage Sites in Singapore

See also: Geography of Singapore

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is one of three gardens, and the only tropical garden, to be honored as a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site.


Main article: Singaporean Cuisine

See also: Gastronomy in Singapore

Singaporean cuisine is also a prime example of diversity and cultural diffusion in Singapore. In Singapore's hawker centres, for example, traditionally Malayhawker stalls selling also Tamil food. Chinese stalls may introduce Malay ingredients, cooking techniques or entire dishes into their range of catering. This continues to make the cuisine of Singapore significantly rich and a cultural attraction. Singaporeans also enjoy a wide variety of seafood including crabs, clams, squid, and oysters. One favorite dish is the stingray barbecued and served on banana leaf and with sambal (chilli).

Creative writing[edit]

Main article: Literature of Singapore

Singapore has a rich heritage in creative writing in the Malay, English, Chinese, Tamil and other languages.


Main article: Public holidays in Singapore

See also: List of Singapore-related topics and Singapore Arts Festival

The major public holidays reflect the mentioned racial diversity, including Chinese New Year, BuddhistVesak Day, MuslimEid ul-Fitr (known locally by its Malay name Hari Raya Puasa), and HinduDiwali (known locally by its Tamil name Deepavali). Christians constitute a large and rapidly growing minority, and Christmas Day, Good Friday, and New Year's Day are also public holidays.

On August 9, Singapore celebrates the anniversary of its independence with a series of events, including the National Day Parade which is the main ceremony. The National Day Parade, 2005 was held at the Padang in the city centre.

In 2003, the Esplanade – "Theatres on the Bay", a centre for performing arts, was opened. The Esplanade is also known as "The Durian", due to its resemblance to the fruit. The Arts House at Old Parliament Lane has also been supportive of local performing arts in recent years. Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and LASALLE College of the Arts are the two main arts institutions offering full-time programmes for the performing arts in Singapore.


Further information: Languages of Singapore, Singapore English, and Singlish

Many Singaporeans are bilingual. Most speak Singaporean English and another language, most commonly Mandarin, Malay, Tamil or Singapore Colloquial English (Singlish). Singapore Standard English is virtually the same as British, Malaysian, and Indian Standard English in most aspects of grammar and spelling, though there are some differences vocabulary and minor spelling differences, for example the word 'swap' is commonly spelt 'swop', as is standard in The Straits Times.[13]

All Singaporeans study English as their first language in schools, under the compulsory local education system, and their mother-tongue language as their second language. Thus, most Singaporeans are effectively bilingual, especially the youths in today's society. There are four main languages in usage in Singapore. The 'national' language of Singapore is Bahasa Melayu. This is in recognition of the Malay people as the indigenous community in Singapore. 85% of Singaporeans do not speak Malay. Malay is used in the national anthem, national motto and military parade drill commands. Tamil is an official language as a majority of South Asians in Singapore are ethnic Tamils from India and Sri Lanka. While most Chinese Singaporeans are descendants of southern Chinese migrants who spoke a variety of regional languages, it is the northern Chinese language of Mandarin that is official in Singapore, though dialects such as Hokkien and Cantonese are still prevalent in the older generation of Chinese.


Main article: Music of Singapore

See also: Censorship in Singapore

Singapore has a diverse music culture that ranges from rock and pop to folk and classical.


Main article: Media of Singapore

See also: Cinema of Singapore and Censorship in Singapore


Main article: List of parks in Singapore

See also: Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Botanic Gardens

Gardens and gardening have a special place in Singaporean culture as well as in politics. Historically this is all officially attributed to Lee Kuan Yew who apparently spearheaded this philosophy in 1963.[14] In a rare interview with Monty Don shown in the TV-series Around the World in 80 Gardens, Lee Kuan Yew reveals that after visits to other big Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Bangkok he feared that Singapore would turn into another concrete jungle, and he decided that gardens and parks should be established everywhere and made this a priority of the government.

Performing arts[edit]

Main article: List of movie theatre operators in Singapore

See also: Music of Singapore

Singapore is also known as a cultural centre for arts and culture, including theatre and music.

Stand-up comedy[edit]

Singapore has a growing stand-up comedy scene with three active rooms. The three comedy rooms in Singapore are weekly, starting with Comedy Masala[15] on Tuesdays, Talk Cock Comedy[16] on Wednesdays and Comedy Hub Singapore[17] on Mondays and Thursdays. Every month, The Comedy Club Asia features leading international comics such as Shazia Mirza & Imran Yusuf. Comedy Masala also brings in international comedians, such as Paul Ogata.[18]Kumar, a drag queen who has performed in Singapore for more than 17 years, is one of Singapore's leading stand-up comedian.[19]


Main article: Religion in Singapore

Religion in Singapore is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices due to its diverse ethnic mix of peoples originating from various countries.

See also[edit]


Centre square of Raffles Place
Old Supreme Court of Singapore
  1. ^"Singapore Cooperation Program". Archived from the original on 2015-01-24. 
  2. ^"SingStat". 
  3. ^"Ministry of Education". Archived from the original on 2013-03-25. 
  4. ^PM Lee on racial and religious issues (National Day Rally 2009) / Our News / Singapore United - Community Engagement Programme PortalArchived May 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. (2009-08-16). Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  5. ^"Press Freedom Index". 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^"Ethnic Integration Policy and SPR Quota". Housing Development Board. 1 October 2015. 
  11. ^Jake Lloyd Smith, 24 July 2004. Singapore filmmaker takes Cut at censors, Houston Chronicle, retrieved January 25, 2006
  12. ^Annex D: "Definition of the Term Artistic" in Report of the Censorship Review Committee 1992
  13. ^"Singapore, Indonesia on track to implement automatic tax data swop". Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  14. ^
  15. ^Comedy Masala Singapore | Singapore's BEST Weekly Stand Up Comedy Night! — Comedy Masala Singapore | Singapore's BEST Weekly Stand Up Comedy Night!. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  16. ^The Comedy Club. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  17. ^[1]
  18. ^Chee, Frankie. "Stand-up is back", The Straits Times, 2009-07-12.
  19. ^"Meet Singapore's Leading Comic: A Drag Queen Named Kumar", "ABC News" 14 February 2008

Singapore is an island country in Southeast Asia, just off the Malay Peninsula and 85 miles north of the equator. The country is young but well developed with leaning skyscrapers, diverse communities and unique buildings. Singapore has many cultures living within it, as a result there is a very diverse way of life with people speaking many languages and worshiping a number of different religions. Such a wide range of cultures makes the country very accepting of others.

In 1963 Singapore gained independence from the United Kingdom. Many of the people who lived in Singapore went there from India, Malaysia and China in seek of labouring work to earn money. After independence was granted the process of finding a single Singaporean identity began. The country has been called a society in transition because of the fact that the people who live there do not speak the same language, share religious beliefs or even come from the same culture. English is declared to be the nation’s first language, however in a census by the government, just 80% of Singaporeans were literate in English. The diverse culture can be noticed when you walk the streets to see mosques, synagogues and churches.

The main streets in Singapore are busy, colourful and filled with the inviting aromas of street food. It is here where you can devour delicious prawn noodles or a bowl of Wee Nam Kee chicken. Food from the street vendors is bursting with local flavours and is irresistible after a long day walking through the streets and shopping in the malls.

The island is small and the population is large at 5,312,400. The large population means that things can feel rather crowded in the main streets. Pedestrians and drivers have to keep to the left to ensure a smooth travel for everyone, whether on foot or in a car.
There are not too many private cars in Singapore, however taxis flood the roads. Car prices are much higher in the country and the cost for just obtaining a Singaporean certificate of Entitlement would buy you a Porsche Boxter in America. Just one in every 10 people own cars due to the expense, many choose the cheaper alternative of traveling by bicycle, on foot, bus, train and taxis.

In the dark of night the city of Singapore lights up. The stunning skyline reflects off of the Singapore River and illuminates the sky. On the river there aren’t just straight up skyscrapers, there is even a quirky building which has curved sides and looks as though a space ship has landed on top of its roof.

Singapore is warm and wet. The tropical rainforest climate means that there are no actual defined seasons. The geographical location means that the country has high humidity and lots of rainfall, with around 92.1 inches each year. The sun shines strongest in March, with the highest recorded temperature at 36 degrees. Singaporeans dress in clothes suitable for the heat and humidity, wearing T-shirts, shorts and slippers.

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