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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Culture of Singapore – The Lion City
Joanna James Joanna James
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Culture of Singapore – The Lion City

Singapore was once known as Singapura and its people are made up of varied ethnic groups. Here are some important cultural facts which will be helpful when exploring this marvellous nation.


How is Singapore Identified

The name Singapore is a derivation of its ancient reference Singapura, meaning 'City of the Lion'. This term has been in use since the 14th century, although Singapore has not had a record of being home to lions. This unity is reflected in popular Singaporean dishes that have been influenced by the varying cuisines and cooking styles of the different ethnic groups that call this nation home. It offers a truly multicultural culinary experience for foodies.


Languages of Singapore

A multi-lingual state, the national language of Singapore is Malay; while the four official languages comprise English, Tamil, Malay and Mandarin Chinese. The administrative language is English, which is also the official language of education in schools, while students are allowed to choose an additional mother-tongue, which is Malay, Chines or Tamil. If you choose accommodation at a property of the Park Hotel Group, Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Little India will be easily accessible, giving you the chance to understand just how well these communities have integrated themselves into one nation.


The Merlion

You will most definitely happen upon the Merlion Park on one of your scouts across the city, a top attraction in the city. This mythical creature symbolises the two main aspects of the nation. The Merlion is a half lion, half fish creature; the fish part refers to the country's fishing community while the lion, refers to its Sanskrit name Singapura, which was discussed previously. Home to some of the finest hotels in Asia Pacific, Singapore has managed to move ahead, while still retaining its diverse heritage and the unique identities of each ethnic group.


Food in the Daily Lives of Singaporeans

While ingredients such as fish, rice, chicken and vegetables are commonly used in the local dishes of Singapore. The variations are endless. With a wide variety of exotic spices, herbs, coconut, lime, chilli, tamarind, and cooking styles influenced by the Chinese, Indian, Malay, Peranakan, it's no surprise that many visitors flock to this sunny island with food on their minds. Mind you the foodie culture in Singapore is quite popular, and the food is often eaten outside of the home at the many cafes, restaurants, teahouses and coffee-shops, the cuisine is always fresh and very affordable. While Chinese meals are typically eaten with chopsticks, forks and spoons are used for other varieties.


Celebrations of Singapore

The various cultural and religious festivals which are celebrated across these groups are times when special food is prepared and age-old traditions are adhered to. It is a time of colourful diversions; for instance, Chinese New Year in Chinatown is a colourful event of Lion dances, food fairs and traditional décor being laid outside the shops and homes. The same goes for the traditional Malay and Indian festivals, which seem to draw this united nation into a close bond as one big family of Singaporeans.

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