The island nation
The Republic of Singapore is an independent city-state in Southeast Asia, comprising 1 main island and 50 adjacent islands off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. The major island is separated from Malaysia on the north by the narrow Johor Strait and is connected by a causeway to the Malaysian city of Johor Baharu. On the south, the main island is separated from Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago by the Singapore Strait, an important shipping channel linking the Indian Ocean to the west with the South China Sea on the east.
Singapore is densely populated, with most of the country’s people concentrated in the south central portion of the island, where the central business district and main port are located.
Singapore contained just a few fishing settlements and a small trading port when the islands became part of the United Kingdom’s colonial empire in the 1820s. Britain developed Singapore into a major international trade center, and the local Malay population soon swelled with immigrants from China and India. Since becoming an independent republic in 1965, multiethnic Singapore has maintained political stability and high economic growth. As a result, Singapore is now Southeast Asia’s most important seaport, financial center, and manufacturing hub, and its citizens enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living.
- Population: 4.16 million
- People:Chinese (76.5%); Malays (13.8%); Indians (8.1%); Others (1.6%).
- Language:English (language of administration), Chinese (Mandarin), Malay (National language) & Tamil
- Religion:Buddhism (42.5%); Taoism (8.5%); Islam (14.9%); Christianity (14.6%); Hinduism (4.0%); Other religions (0.6%); No religion (14.8%)
- Major Industries: Manufacturing, Financial services, communications, shipping, retail and trade, oil
In general, tourists are given a 30 day entry pass when arriving in Singapore. To find out which countries need a visa, visit http://app.ica.gov.sg/travellers/entry/visa_requirements.asp
Work permits are arranged by the employer, and generally are strict in their requirements for adequate qualifications. English language teachers need a degree and a TEFL/CELTA.
- Time Zone: GMT/UTC +8
- Dialling Code: 65
- Electricity: 230V, 50Hz
- Weights & measures: Metric
The currency of Singapore is the Singapore Dollar. (Currency code: SGD). Money changers are reliable and easy to find.
Notes come in denominations of SGD 2, SGD 5, SGD 10, SGD 20, SGD 50, SGD 100, SGD 500, SGD 1,000, and SGD 10,000.
Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and SGD 1.
- Budget meals are S$2-4.
- Mid-range for S$5-9.
- High for S$10-20.
- Deluxe for S$20+
- Budget: S$ 10 - 40. Most low end accommodation is available in the Bencoolen Road area and in little India. Get off at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and look for the now famous Peony Mansions. Many hotels in the Geylang area have very comfortable rooms for as little as S$45 a night.
- Mid-range: S$40-80.
- High: S$80-200.
- Deluxe: S$200+
Accommodation is expensive. Estate agents will help to find something for you but then charge half of the first month’s rent for their services. A room in someone’s apartment will cost around S$400 a month, and your own HDB (government housing board) apartment can be anything from S$1000 and up, but these are hard to come by because by law, Singaporeans are not permitted to rent out state subsidized housing. Luxury condominiums are the easiest to find, and are usually 2 or 3 bedrooms, so can be shared among teachers. Most start at around S$2500 a month.
PGCE qualified teachers will find a cornucopia of jobs available at private international school which are extremely well paid and have great benefits packages. University lecturing positions are available at some private universities, institutions like Informatics and the Singapore Polytechnics.
TEFL qualified teachers can head for the numerous language institutes in the city catering for the large numbers of students coming in from other Asian countries, notably Indonesia and China, who are aiming to study in Singapore institutions. Schools to look out for are Inlingua, A/T, GEOS, Blue Harvest, while the British Council is a good point of call for CELTA qualified teachers. There are many centres offering tuition for Singaporean children for those who prefer working with children.
Public Holidays 2005
New Year’s Day: Saturday 1 January 2005
Hari Raya Haji: Friday 21 January 2005
Chinese New Year: Wednesday 9 February 2005 and Thursday 10 February 2005:
Good Friday: Friday 25 March 2005
Labour Day: Sunday* 1 May 2005
Vesak Day: Sunday* 22 May 2005
National Day: Tuesday 9 August 2005
Deepavali: Tuesday 1 November 2005
Hari Raya Puasa: Thursday 3 November 2005
Christmas Day: Sunday* 25 December 2005
Things to see and do
Singapore, although small, bristles with wonderful sites and plenty of attractions.
In the city centre, green spots like Fort Canning Park offer a pleasant respite from the bustle. It also has its own War museum which is interactive and loads of fun, and a wonderful theatre with daily events. Other green spots are the majestic Macritchie Reservoir with it’s jungle walkway, the lovely Botanical Gardens at the end of Orchard Road, and the Sungei Buloh Wetland reserve.
Little India is a cultural getaway, and try Arab Street for some authentic Muslim experiences. China Town, on the other side of the city, is also fascinating and gives a real glimpse into Singapore’s close ties with the Chinese motherland.
There is plenty of shopping in Orchard Road, and most of everywhere else in the city. Have a look around CHIJMES, which was once a Catholic school, but has been converted into a centre for nightlife and dining.
The East Coast area offers pleasant beaches and the opportunity to windsurf or in-line-skate for the 3 or 4 mile long sea-front boulevard. Try Sentosa Island for a few fun-packed days. Sentosa is an island dedicated to tourism, with its own funfair, theme parks, monorail system, bird sanctuary, beaches and museums. It also houses the Underwater World, which is expensive to get into, but a real treat.
Other major attractions include the night-safari, the Jurong Bird Park and the numerous museums sprinkled around the city. The Art Museum is impressive and the Asian Civilisations Museum is worth a visit.
And then there are the neighbouring islands, notably Pulau Ubin which is a great place to spend the day cycling around in the cool shade of the forests.