Culture

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One of the most remarkable aspects of Singapore is the truly cosmopolitan nature of her population, a natural result of the country’s geographical position and commercial success. Established by Thomas Stamford Raffles as a trading post on 29 January 1819, the small sea town of Singapore soon attracted migrants and merchants from China, the Indian sub-continent, Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula and the Middle East. Drawn by the lure of better prospects, the immigrants brought with them their own cultures, languages, customs and festivals. Intermarriage and integration helped knit these diverse influences into the fabric of Singapore’s multi-faceted society, giving it a vibrant and diverse cultural heritage. By the end of the 19th century, Singapore became one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Asia, with major ethnic groups in the country being the Chinese, Malays, Indians, Peranakans and Eurasians. Today, the ethnic Chinese form 74.2% of the Singaporean population, with the country’s original inhabitants – the Malays, comprising of 13.4%. The Indians make up 9.2%, and Eurasians, Peranakans and others making up a combined 3.2%. Singapore is also home to many expatriates, with almost 20% of them made up of non-resident blue collar workers from the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh. The rest of the expatriate population include white collar workers coming from countries as diverse as North America, Australia, Europe, China and India. As a reflection of its collage of cultures, Singapore has adopted one representative language for each of the four major ethnic or 'racial' groups. The four official languages in Singapore's constitution are English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. However, in recognition of the status of the Malay people as the indigenous community in Singapore, the national language of the country is Bahasa Melayu, or the Malay Language. The presence of other languages, especially the varieties of Malay and Chinese, has obviously had an influence on...
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