Supporting Singapore’s modern skyscrapers and dockyards is a cosmopolitan society built upon many ethnic races and cultures from around the world.
This mosaic of people and religions accumulated over hundreds of years as Singapore grew into one of the most important trading ports in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Each major group has manifested at street level throughout Singapore as different districts, each with its own architecture and customs.
Singaporean society went through arguably its most significant changes during the second half of the 20th century after merging to form Malaysia, and subsequently gaining complete independence in 1965.
Today the main cultures in Singapore are Malay, Indian, Chinese and British: Chinatown, Arab Street, Little India and the many colonial British buildings across the city are physical symbols of these populations and the migrant history of the city.
However, instead of being segregated, these groups blend across the city with some fascinating results, such as hybrid languages.
Although English (the principle language), Malay (the national language of Singapore), Chinese (Mandarin) and Tamil are the only officially recognised languages, ‘slang’ languages such as Singlish (Singapore/English) and older languages such as Baba Malay and Hokkien are also spoken by minorities.
After independence from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore went through rapid industrial and economic change that resulted in the development of much of the city that we see today.
Economic restructuring and public housing were made top priority, leading to the development of large industrial plants and housing areas across the city.
Since the 1970s Singapore has developed as an international centre for business and finance, resulting in the creation of skyscrapers to house the various financial institutions.
The most impressive agglomeration of high rise buildings is in the financial district: an area surrounding Marina Bay, formerly the commercial centre of colonial Singapore.