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The Culture Of Singapore Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2643 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Singapore is effectively a multilingual nation. Although English is the first language of Singapore, there are also a multitude of other languages spoken in the country that reflect its multiracial, multicultural and multilingual society. As of 2008, there are more than 20 languages being spoken in Singapore.

The four official languages of Singapore are Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English. English is widespread and is the language which unites the various ethnic groups. Children are taught in English at school but also learn their mother tongue to make sure they don’t lose contact with their traditions. The only communication problem English-speakers are likely to have in Singapore is with older Singaporeans who did not learn English at school, though trying to understand the unique patois called Singlish – which uses a clipped form of English mixed with Malay and Hokkien words – can be taxing. Tamil is the main Indian language, though Malayalam and Hindi are also spoken.

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The majority of Singaporeans celebrate the major festivals associated with their respective religions. The variety of religions found in Singapore is a direct reflection of the variety of races living there. The Chinese are main followers of Buddhism and Shenism (deity worship), though some are Christians. Malays are Muslims and most of Singapore’s Indians are Hindus; there is, however, a sizeable proportion of Muslims and Sikhs amongst the Indian population.

Religious tolerance is essential in Singapore. In fact, religions often cross boundaries and some even merge in unusual ways in this modern country. Younger Singaporeans tend to combine a little of the mysteries of the older generation with the realistic world that they know of today.

Religion is still an integral part of the cosmopolitan Singapore. Many of its most interesting buildings are religious, be it old temples, modern churches, or exotic mosques. An understanding of these buildings does play a part in contributing to the appreciation of their art. Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and ancestral worship are combined into a versatile mix in Chinese temples.

Most Buddhists are of the Mahayana school although there are some from the Theravada school. In Singapore, the Buddhist faith is linked with Taoism and the practical doctrine of Confucianism. The Malays in Singapore are Muslims. A few of the Indians are also Muslims, but even more uncommon are the Chinese Muslims.

Islam has a fundamental influence in the lives of those who follow the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad. The religion involves praying five times a day, eating only “halal” food, fasting during Ramadan, and going to Mecca on the Haj (pilgrimage). Halal food means food that has been specially prepared as according to the religion’s dietary requirements. When Indian immigrants migrate to Singapore, they brought with them Hinduism. The early temples are still the central points of ceremonies and festivals, which are held throughout the year.

Christian churches were actually established with the arrival of various missionaries after the coming of Sir Stamford Raffles. Together with Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, Christianity is considered one of the four main religions today. There is quite a large number of Christians in Singapore.

Minority faiths are not forgotten. There are at least two synagogues for the Jews and Sikhs. The Zoroastrians and Jains are also represented in Singapore.

Food of Singapore

Singapore is the food capital of Asia. Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian and Western foods are all on offer, and some of the tastiest creations are those sold from the atmospheric street stalls. Nonya cooking is a local variation on Chinese and Malay food, mixing Chinese ingredients with local spices such as lemongrass and coconut cream. The popular spicy, coconut-based soup laksa is a classic Nonya dish. Singapore is a great place to discover tropical fruits. Some of the more unusual ones on offer include rambutan, mangos teen, durian, jackfruit, pomelo and star fruit.

Furthermore, food and entertainment often go together like hand and glove. Many places offer both excellent food and entertainment options, thus enabling you to enjoy the best of both worlds in one location. Indeed, all these attractions have created a food paradise like no other. Food has become something that is thoroughly appreciated by every Singaporean and visitor.

The cuisine of Singapore is indicative of the ethnic diversity of the culture of Singapore, as a product of centuries of cultural interaction owing to Singapore’s strategic location. The food is influenced by the native Malay, the predominant Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Western traditions (particularly English) since the founding of Singapore by the British in the 19th century. Traces of cuisines such as Thai and Middle Eastern exist in local food culture as well. In Singaporean hawker stores, for example, chefs of Chinese ethnic background influenced by Indian culture might experiment with condiments and ingredients such as tamarind, turmeric and ghee, while a Tamil chef might serve a fried noodle dish.

In Singapore, food is viewed as the great importance to national identity and a combination of cultural thread; Singaporean novel declares eating as a national pastime and food, a national obsession. Food is a frequent topic of conversation among Singaporeans. Religious dietary strictures do exist; Muslims do not eat pork and Hindus do not eat beef, and there is also a significant group of vegetarians. People from different communities often eat together, while being mindful of each other’s culture and choose food that is acceptable to all. There are also some halal Chinese restaurants catering to Muslim dietary preference.

Singaporean cuisine has been organized as an attraction for tourists by the Singapore Tourism Board, as a major attraction alongside its shopping. The government organizes the Singapore Food Festival in July to celebrate Singapore’s cuisine. The multiculturalism of local food, the ready availability of international cuisine and styles, and their wide range in prices to fit all budgets at all times of the day and year helps create a “food paradise”. The dish “Singapore noodles” does not exist in Singapore, as it was invented by chefs who worked and lived in Hong Kong.

The cuisine is similar to the cuisine of Malaysia because of the close historical and cultural between the two countries. While a number of dishes are common to both countries, their preparation different between the countries, according to local taste.

Singapore is a small country with a high population, land is not many resource given up to industrial and housing purposes. Most pfood ingredients are imported, although there is a small group of local farmers who produce some leafy vegetables, fruit, poultry, and fish. Singapore’s geographical position connects it to major air and sea transport routes and thus allows it to import a variety of food ingredients from around the world, including costly seafood items such as sashimi from Japan.


Singapore has an urban musical scene, and is a center for rock, punk and other genres in the region. The 1960s produced bands like The Quests, who had hits like “Shanty”, “Don’t Play That Song”, “Jessamine” and “Mr. Rainbow”; as well as other pop-rock bands including The Thunderbirds, The Trailers, The Western Union Band, October Cherries and The Silver Strings. Folk music includes the ethnic Chinese, Malay and Tamil sounds.

Folk music


Pop and rock music

Punk and hardcore genres

Heavy metal

Singaporean’s Etiquettes

Singapore is a small island off the coast of Malaysia and Indonesia. There are many different etiquettes, some original and some different. Singapore is a unique country that also has many rules.

Singaporeans do not usually get appetizers or any drink.

Singaporeans have their meal set on the table along with all other dishes with food.

When you have finished eating your meal when you are with someone, it would be polite in showing that you recognize their kindness by leaving some of your meal in the plate.

Apart from other Asian culture, in Singapore it is not favored to tip after the meal, which tries to impress other people around.

When at a social dinner it is not good to share your food with anyone.

Singaporeans eat with chopsticks. They specifically use the thin end of the chopsticks though when getting food from the big dish that is available to everyone they use the thick side of the chopsticks.

You should not tell a person any jokes until you know them very well because the jokes might be misunderstood.

Do not bring up any ideas or start a conversation about subjects like religion or politics.

No affections (kissing, hugging) between couples or anyone should be demonstrated in public areas.

You should be calm and not show anger in the public areas.

Singaporeans believe the head is sacred so it should not be touched, whether it is a child or an adult.

To get someone to notice you and get his/her attention you should raise your hand.

Singaporean stands and talks to someone their hands should not be placed on their hips because it demonstrates the feeling of anger.

You should not blow your nose and/or clear you throat in a public areas.

It is considered polite and appropriate to cover your mouth with your hand as you yawn.

Gift Giving:


1. People think the respectful thing to do is to refuse a gift a few times before accepting it to show that he/she is not greedy. After a couple of attempts of insisting that they take the gift you should tell them how thankful you are that they did so.

2. To not seem rude or impatient, the person who is receiving the gift should wait until the giver of the gift has left. Then you may open the gift.

3. Some recommended gifts are chocolates, a memento from your country, a gift with your company logo and maybe even a brand gift. No gifts should be too pricey.

4. Singapore is very against bribery. This makes it not a possibility for anyone of employment with the government to take a gift.

5. As you give a small individual gift everyone should be acknowledged and treated to one.

6. Gifts that are supposed to surprise the person getting the gift are not a good idea to give. It would cause an awkward reaction.

7. There should be a reason and an explanation to giving a gift to someone.



1. When asked a question you should not answer too rapidly for the reason that you might miss the correct answer. The correct thing to do is to refrain from answering for at least 15 seconds.

2. In business Singaporeans are not that assertive and sometimes when they “yes” to something they might be feeling differently than how they answered. In other words “yes” doesn’t always mean, “yes.”

3. Singaporeans are tough on things like money, or business due dates.

4. When given a compliment it is usual to humbly disagree or deny it.

5. In business Singaporeans just go straight down to the main concept of the meeting. They will make numerous decisions very quickly.

6. When appointed to be at a business meeting a Singaporean should call ahead of time if they are to be late. Being late without notice is rude and disrespectful.

7. Singaporeans expect people to deliver information, reports etc. needed when requested.



1. When shaking hands you should have a nice firm grip.

2. When at a social occasion or another event with many people, it is appropriate to shake hands with everyone there.

3. When shaking hands with someone, it is polite to give a generous bow (Westerners can be a little taller than Singaporeans so it is nice to bow.)

4. Giving a person you business card when first meeting is a proper thing to do. You must have the writing on the card facing the person and it should be given with two hands.

5. As you meet you should introduce the people of higher position or status and elderly fellows.

6. To be kind and courteous a Singaporean may not have direct eye contact with the person they are greeting, but instead look down. They do this to respect people of that are of older age or higher rank.

7. Instead of greeting with the typical “How are you” or “Good Morning” Singaporeans will usually greet by saying ” Where are you going” or ” Have you eaten.”

8. Greetings shouldn’t be said using your nickname unless you are wanted to in a special case or you know the person well and have developed a friendship.

Everyday Living:


1. You shouldn’t tell a person any jokes until you know them well because the jokes might be misunderstood or just favored.

2. Don’t bring up any ideas or start a conversation about subjects like religion or politics.

3. No affections (kissing, hugging) between couples or anyone should be demonstrated in public. You should be calm and not show anger public areas.

When crossing your legs it is good to put one knee over the other.Home | JapanHYPERLINK “http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00723/index_files/index_files/Page357.htm”‘HYPERLINK “http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00723/index_files/index_files/Page357.htm”s Etiquette | ChinaHYPERLINK “http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00723/index_files/index_files/Page444.htm”‘HYPERLINK “http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00723/index_files/index_files/Page444.htm”s Etiquette | SingaporeHYPERLINK “http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00723/index_files/index_files/Page531.htm”‘HYPERLINK “http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00723/index_files/index_files/Page531.htm”s Etiquette | KoreaHYPERLINK “http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00723/index_files/index_files/Page621.htm”‘HYPERLINK “http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00723/index_files/index_files/Page621.htm”s Etiquette | Fun and Games | Credit | About Us

Singaporeans are strong on things like money, or business meetings due dates.

Demographics of Singapore

4,483,900 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure




0-14 years



15-64 years



65 years and over



(2006 est.)

Population by residential status

Residential Status


Total Population




Permanent Residents


Non-resident Population


(2000 est.)

Population growth rate

1.42% (2006)

Birth rate

9.34 births/1,000 population

Death rate

4.28 deaths/1,000 population

Net migration rate

9.12 migrants/1,000 population

(2006 est.)

Sex ratio


at birth

under 15 years

15-64 years

65 years and over

total population

(2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate

2.29 deaths/1,000 live births (222 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 81 years

male: 79 years

female: 83 years


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