Culture of Singapore
Culture of Singapore: A melting pot of mixed cultures
The Singaporean culture boasts the combination of Asian and European cultures, which are influenced by Malay, South Asian, East Asian, and Eurasian cultures. Dubbed the country where East meets West, Singapore’s history dates back to the third century when it was a vassal state of various empires. During British rule, the port of Singapore flourished and attracted many migrants, and after independence in 1965, Singapore made its own way. It has a diverse populace of over 5.47 million people, made up of Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Eurasians (plus other mixed groups) and Asians of different origins.
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. Singapore maintains tight restrictions on arts and cultural performances and most artistic works have to be vetted by the government in advance. Nudity and other forms of loosely defined “obscenity” are also banned. The country’s first pre-tertiary arts school, School of the Arts, is now completed and stands along the country’s prominent Orchard Road.
The country follows the system of meritocracy which ensures that the best and brightest, regardless of race, religion and socio-economic background, are encouraged to develop to their fullest potential. Education in Singapore ensures that primary education is compulsory for all children of age 7 to 12, while 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 reasoning.
As for food, Singaporean cuisine is also a prime example of diversity and cultural diffusion in Singapore. In Singapore’s hawker centres, for example, traditionally Malay hawker 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.
The major public holidays reflect the mentioned racial diversity, including Chinese New Year, Buddhist Wesak Day, Hari Raya Puasa, and Diwali. 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.
Many Singaporeans are bilingual and 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. 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. Religion in Singapore is characterised by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices due to its diverse ethnic mix of peoples originating from various countries.