Everyone calls it Singapore, but officially it's the Republic of Singapore, because it's not only a city, but also a country and therefore a city-state. It's the smallest country of South East Asia, but an economic superpower and a tourist attraction.
The city (or rather: the country) has approximately 5 million inhabitants. The Chinese form the largest community with over 75% of the population, followed at a large distance by Malay (almost 15%) and Indians (about 8%).
Singapore is located in South East Asia and separated from the Indonesian island of Sumatra by the Singapore Straits. The country consists of over 60 islands; the largest one being separated from Malaysia by the Strait of Johor. This main island is connected with the mainland of Malaysia by a dam and a bridge.
The city is an important financial center and the port is one of the largest in the world. The city's airport is an import hub in international air traffic. Singapore also produces electronics and oil products (made from imported oil, but once processed directly exported). There's also chemical industry, ship and machine building and the country plays a prominent role in high-tech research. Tourism is another pillar of the economy: the city is visited by over 10 million people annually.
The airport is situated 20 kilometers northeast of the city center. Singapore Airport is a prominent airport always scoring within the Top 5 of best airports in the world. The airport is easily reachable by rental car via the East Coast Parkway. It's a toll road for which you have to pay electronically. The car rental companies at the airport sell the necessary chip cards.
Singapore has Mass Rapid Transit (MRT, or the subway) with which you can travel quickly and easily to all parts of the city. In addition, there's an efficient bus network. During weekends (Friday and Saturday nights) night buses run from the entertainment centers Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Mohamed Sultan and Orchard Road.
The island state of Singapore may not be large, but there's an extensive and well-maintained road network, including over 160 kilometers of freeways. This means that (outside rush hour, but where in the world isn't this the case?) you can easily find your way around Singapore. Compared to other metropolises, it's also not that difficult to find a free parking place for your rental car, in the street or in one of the many parking garages.
Compared with other countries in South East Asia accommodation in Singapore is expensive. You can, however, find some budget accommodations, especially in Little India, Bugis and East Coast. Recently, nice midrange hotels have opened up in Chinatown. More expensive hotels can be found near Marina Bay and in the heart of the shopping district, around Orchard Road. Bear in mind that all hotels are booked up during large events, like the Formula One race.
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