Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, is a global financial center with a tropical climate and multicultural population. Its colonial core centers on the Padang, a cricket field since the 1830s and now flanked by grand buildings such as City Hall, with its 18 Corinthian columns. In Singapore's circa-1820 Chinatown stands the red-and-gold Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, said to house one of Buddha's teeth.
Other notable religious buildings include tranquil Lian Shan Shuang Lin Buddhist monastery, colourful Sri Mariamman Hindu temple and the massive Sultan Mosque. The neoclassical National Museum of Singapore contains exhibits on the city’s history and culture. There's shopping at the giant malls on Orchard Road and stylish boutiques in Kampong Glam. Sleek Marina Bay Sands SkyPark rises 200m above the water with sweeping city views. Little India offers colourful souvenirs. Arab Street is lined with fabric shops. Singapore is also known for an eclectic street-food scene, served up in Tiong Bahru and Maxwell Road.
Singapore recognises four official languages: English, Mandarin,Malay and Tamil. English is the language of administration.
The weather's warm and tropical year-round. Rainstorms are possible at any time, but rainfall usually peaks Nov–Dec. Chinatown comes alive for Chinese New Year (varies Jan/Feb), celebrated with parades, lights and traditional lion dances, including at the large, multicultural Chingay Parade. The Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix (Sep) is staged at the Marina Bay circuit. There are music concerts and other events in the run-up to the race.
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