What is Singapore?


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

The Marina Bay Sands with the statue of Sir Thomas Raffles, the father of modern day Singapore, in the forefront.

Is it like New York City, where the high rises make you arch your neck backwards to see exactly how tall they stand? Is it an important center of economic and financial activity that without exception remains abuzz, day and night? Is it that archetypal technologically advanced city, built for the 21st century?


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

Right: DUO Galleria, one of Singapore's most notable buildings, pictured near the Bugis MRT station.

Or is it more like its Asian neighbors — like Bangkok or New Delhi, perhaps? A city where street food is of paramount importance and humble open-air restaurants remain open from dawn to the late-night hours? Where religion, practiced for centuries in ancient temples, continues to be a part of the national fabric? Where development is in constant overdrive, rendering itself a persistent threat to global climate change?


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

The façade of the ancient Wak Hai Cheng Bio temple with skyscrapers in the backdrop.

Is it a bit of both, or neither?


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

Fuk Tak Chi, an ancient temple in Singapore's Chinatown. Parts of the temple have now been converted into a museum, as well as a popular boutique hotel.

One way to understand Singapore is through or from its towering edifices. It is possible to understand the island-nation’s local and colonial cultural heritage, along with its modern character, by looking through and beyond its many skyscrapers.


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

Singapore's seaports, as well as Indonesian islands, can be seen in the distance from skyscrapers.

The youth of the nation sets it apart from its Asian neighbors, as well as other advanced nations around the world. Because it has had the opportunity to see how older nations faltered in their quest for development, Singapore has been able to correct the course in some ways.


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

SIngapore has more skyscrapers than many larger nations, but there is also a good deal of green cover in the city.

Its abundant green cover is a great example in how the nation planned in advance to deal with certain costs of development, such as the high level of CFC chemicals emitted by air-conditioners.


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

The outlet units of air-conditioners installed in buildings.

The conversion of temples into museums or heritage hotels is an innovative way for Singapore to move forward while staying in touch with the roots.


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

A visitor at the Thian Hock Keng temple. The oldest temple in Singapore, it is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess, Mazu.

The existence of ancient temples with skyscrapers in the backdrop shows us that modernity need not be a contest between the two.


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

Street art on the walls of Thian Hock Keng temple tells the story of the arrival of Chinese people to Singapore.

In Singapore, looking at the skyscrapers can tell the city’s entire story.


Photo Credit: Garima Garg

Tourists take in the view of the skyline on a 50th floor viewing deck.

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Editor: Nick Aspinwall