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Singapore Universities


Map of Singapore

 

Area

Singapore consists of one main island and 60 small islands about 137 km north of the Equator (latitude 1° 09'N and longitude 103° 38'E). It has a total land area of 647.5 square kilometers, of which almost half has been set aside as forest reserves, marsh and other non-built-up areas. Three reservoirs occupy the centre of the island. Almost half of the land (49.67 per cent) is for residential, commercial and industrial use. A mere 1.7 per cent, about 10.8 sq km, is for agriculture.

Climate

Depending on whom you ask, Singapore either has four seasons or no seasons. The four seasons are: hot, hotter, wet and wetter.

And no seasons because Singapore has a warm tropical climate with sunshine all year round--making it a good place to develop a perpetual tan. With the sea to further moderate fluctuations in temperature, Singapore's weather is almost boringly consistent--between 32°C (90°F) for a high and 24°C (75°F) for a low. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Singapore was 20.5°C (69°F).

Humidity is high. It hits you like a wall the second you step out of the airport. The daily average relative humidity is 84.4 per cent. That means it gets past 90 per cent just before dawn and perhaps 60 to 70 per cent in dry afternoons. Folklore has it that a certain European car make was rusting fast, but the manufacturers could not believe that such a place as humid as Singapore existed. So they flew down some engineers who verified that indeed on planet Earth, a humid little place that tests their cars existed. Folklore goes that they returned to tighten their manufacturing standards against body rust. Allow anything from one week to a month to adjust to the humidity.

Rainfall is abundant (annual rainfall 2,333 mm). It's wise to carry an umbrella to avoid getting drenched. As anyone who has left an umbrella in the office or home knows, the second you do that, the rain is going to pour down in sheets.The rainy season falls during the Northeast Monsoon from December to January. December is usually the wettest month while February is the sunniest. July and August are the hottest months, with average temperatures hitting their peaks.

Currency

The local currency is the Singapore dollar, SGD or S$ for short. One dollar is divided into 100 cents. All notes and coins are issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore (BCCS). The Singapore dollar and the Brunei dollar are accepted at par in each country under an Interchangeability Agreement, so don't be surprised if you do get a note with a picture of the Sultan of Brunei.

Languages

Because of its multiracial makeup, Singapore recognizes four official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. English is the language of administration. Malay is the language in which the National Anthem in sung. In schools, children usually take English as the first language and one of the other 3 as a second language. For all intents and purposes, most conversations and business in Singapore are conducted in either English or Mandarin.

Singaporeans also speak a peculiar brand of English called "Singlish". This local concoction mixes English with common phrases in the Chinese dialects (mostly Hokkien) and some Malay. The use of Singlish continues to be a popular topic of public debate. Purists and Anglophiles bemoan the loss of Queen's English as they know it. Proponents of local culture say Singlish is one of the elements that gives Singaporeans their distinctive identity.

Culture

The Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year with gusto sometime in January or February, depending on the Lunar Calendar. This is the equivalent of the American Christmas and Thanksgiving combined. There is a big reunion dinner on the eve of the New Year.

Expatriates frequently skip town during this period because most shops are closed. Some Chinese businesses close shop for up to two weeks--the only break they have in the year. Other Chinese festivals include Qing Ming (a time for the remembrance of ancestors), the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, and the Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the Mooncake or Lantern Festival).

Muslims in Singapore celebrate two main festivals.Hari Raya Puasa is a joyous celebration to mark the end of a month of fasting. Muslims decked in finery visit each other. Hari Raya Haji is a time of prayer and remembrance. Smaller-scale festivals are: the first day of the Muslim calendar month of Muharram (a New Year celebration), and Maulud (Prophet Muhammad's birthday).

Muslims in Singapore celebrate two main festivals.Hari Raya Puasa is a joyous celebration to mark the end of a month of fasting. Muslims decked in finery visit each other. Hari Raya Haji is a time of prayer and remembrance. Smaller-scale festivals are: the first day of the Muslim calendar month of Muharram (a New Year celebration), and Maulud (Prophet Muhammad's birthday).

Christian festivals have a fairly strong following in Singapore. Christmas in particular is heavily commercialised. The entire stretch of the Orchard Road shopping belt is lit up with decorative lights from November to early January. The multiracial mix is such that most Singaporeans celebrate more than just the festivals of their own ethnic group. So a Chinese Christian might go to church, but also partake in the cultural rites in some Chinese festivals. Even when they don't actually celebrate certain festivals, many will visit their friends and neighbours from other ethnic communities to join in the fun. Of course (Singaporeans being the foodies that they are) it helps when you have Chinese noodles, Malay "satay"and Indian curry thrown in.