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SINGAPORE

The Lion Country, the Republic of Singapore - often described as a city-state, is one of the smallest independent countries in Asia with an area of 648 sq km. The blend of modern urban cityscape with lush tropical gardens along with world class attractions such as the world's largest giant observation wheel – the Singapore Flyer, Universal Studios, Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Grand Prix and landmark like the Merlion Statue make Singapore a remarkable island country. Consisting of a main island and sixty-three islets with 120 miles of coastline, the highest point of Singapore– Bukit Timah Hill is at 164 m above sea level. This island country hosts pockets of natural wonders that are home to incredibly rich diversity of fauna and flora. One can find exotic birds, flying lemurs, squirrels, long-tailed macaque, shrews, skinks, various species of bats and the false vampires and unique plant like the pitcher plant. The coastline supports coral reef as well as mussels, barnacles, snails, crabs, mud lobsters, prawns and mud skippers. The Singapore Botanic Gardens, designated World Heritage Site by the UNESCO is a botanical and wildlife treasure trove.

Although described as a playground for the rich, Singapore has a vibrant history. Settled by the British in the early 1800s, Singapore is now a composite portrait of a wonderful blend of various cultures as diverse as Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European. The richly diverse ethnic makeup offers plenty of indigenous Malay, Indian and Chinese art as well as western-style performing arts. Wayang kulit (shadow puppetry) and mak yong (dance and music performances) exist alongside contemporary art and drama. The Chinese Lion Dance, the mesmerizing Joget, Asli and Zapin Malay dances, Saman (dance of thousand heads), the Ballet, the Indian traditional Bharatnatyam and the Tap Dance are the popular dance forms. Throughout the year, the multicultural Singapore celebrates festivals of every ethnic group with gusto. The Mooncake Festival (Lantern Festival), Dragon Boat Festival, Huayi (Chinese Festival of Arts), Thaipusam, Hari Raya Haji, the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, the Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods are some important festivals.

The insanely delicious street fare found in food centres and coffee shops throughout the island shows the Singaporean obsession with food. Chicken rice (steamed or boiled chicken served atop fragrant oily rice with sliced cucumber) is the national dish of Singapore.


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