Singapore, a dynamic city rich in contrast and colour, is a cosmopolitan society where people live harmoniously and interaction among different races are commonly seen. The immigrants of the past have given the place a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences, all of which have intermingled. The four official languages of Singapore are Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English. English is the most common language used and is the language which unites the different ethnic groups. Children are taught in English at school but also learn their mother tongue to make sure they don't lose contact with their traditions. Singapore is made up of not just one island but a main island with 63 surrounding islets. The main island has a total land area of 682 square km. However, its compact size belies its economic growth.
In just 150 years, Singapore has grown into a thriving centre of commerce and industry. Its former role as an entrepot has diminished, as the nation has increased its manufacturing base. Singapore is the busiest port in the world with over 600 shipping lines sending super tankers, container ships and passenger liners to share the busy waters with coastal fishing vessels and wooden lighters. One of the world's major oil refining and distribution centres, Singapore is a major supplier of electronic components and a leader in shipbuilding and repairing.
It has also become one of the most important financial centres of Asia, with more than 130 banks. Business dealings are facilitated by Singapore's superb communications network which links the nation to the rest of the world via satellite, 24-hour telegraph and telephone systems. Singapore's strategic location, excellent facilities, fascinating cultural contrasts and tourist attractions contribute to its success as a leading destination for both business and pleasure.
Asian readers of TIME Magazine have again voted Singapore as their favourite business city announced on 5 Dec 2005. This is the fifth year running that Singapore has clinched the accolade. Singapore’s MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions) facilities were also voted the best in Asia for the second year in a row. Singapore’s Changi Airport was ranked by the magazine’s readers as their favourite Asian airport, while Singapore Airlines came out tops in the airline category. Singapore Airlines won recognition at The World Travel Awards, recognised as the world's most prestigious travel industry award, held on 13 November 2005. Award winners were based solely on the result of a world-wide poll of 156,000 travel industry professionals in more than 140 countries. Voting ran from May through September 2005 with a record-breaking number of more than two million ballots cast online.