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Singapore Culture

Time:Mar 21,2012 17:47Author :xiaoya Clicks: source :未知

Singapore Culture


Singapore is a melting pot of nationalities and influences from neighboring Asian countries, as well as around the world. The country's colonial history, strong expatriate communities, and its recently gained status as a business hub for the global economy have resulted in diversity in virtually every cultural arena. But authentic Singaporean traditions survive, making for a unique cultural experience for visitors to the small island nation.

Brief History

Modern Singapore came into being in 1824 when the entire island became a British colony, a process that was begun in 1819 when the British East India Company arrived to begin developing a trading post. The sparsely populated island began to boom as traders and migrants from neighboring Asian countries settled in. Singapore was occupied by the Japanese during World War II, but was returned to Great Britain after the war ended.

Singapore was actually part of Malaysia when it initially declared independence from Britain in 1963. It broke away from Malaysia and became a sovereign republic in 1965.

Today, Singapore is known as one of the "Four Asian Tigers" for its booming business-friendly economy (along with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea). Its global economic connections continue the tradition of international ties the country has maintained in the last two centuries, and its diverse society and free market attract never-ending waves of travelers, immigrants, and business people. 

This history as a global outpost is evident in Singapore's cultural offerings.

Performing Arts

Dance, theatre, and comedy are all institutions in Singapore that display a combination of colonial legacies, Singaporean traditions, and contemporary innovations.

Singapore's government is an active supporter of the local arts scene, allowing the arts to flourish here and establishing Singapore as an Asian arts hub. 

An icon of Singapore's performing arts scene is the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, a massive, innovative performance venue completed in 2005. Located right by Marina Square, the space has 2,000 seats and has quickly become the home of Singapore's premier arts performances. Singapore's national dance company, the Singapore Dance Theatre, calls this grand theatre home, and it also hosts a variety of domestic and international theatre, dance, and music events throughout the year. The iconic domed roof is shaped like a pair of durians, a spiky fruit found in Southeast Asia.

Singapore theatre is one cultural arena that draws strongly from both Singapore's historic roots and modern trends. Visitors can find Shakespeare, Broadway musicals, and international tours, plus cutting-edge Singaporean theatre companies that draw on the country's unique political and social realities. Plays in English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, and Malay all reflect different aspects of Singapore's culture as well. Theatre venues vary from the stately Drama Centre at the National Library Building down to small performing spaces and outdoor theatres.

Singapore's comedy scene is also evidence of the city-state's position at the forefront of global cultural trends. Touring comedians from around the world plus local stand-up talent and improv troupes can be found in the city's many comedy clubs, theatres, and at Singapore's theatre and arts festivals.


Singapore has a thriving folk music culture which draws from Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Tamil traditions. The nation's status as a bustling global hub has also resulted in a dynamic urban music scene, with artists and bands plugging into the international rock, punk, and jazz scenes. The annual Mosaic Music Festival and other music-centered events at the Esplanade in particular are recognized for providing a big platform for local music.

Musically inclined visitors will also certainly want to check out the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, which usually performs at the Esplanade. The SSO, which was founded in 1979, has toured internationally and shows a lot of classical western influence in its repertory.


The National Arts Council and Singapore's many arts schools promote a strong visual arts tradition. The National Gallery of Art headlines the city's art museums, but smaller galleries for local artists are also scattered throughout the city. Folk art from the city's various ethnic communities make gallery browsing in Singapore a truly unique experience.

Art-savvy visitors also flock to the city during the annual Singapore Arts Festival. Featuring a lineup of music and theatre performances, the festival also presents an array of special art installations and museum exhibitions featuring both domestic and international artists. The festival takes place from mid-May to early June, and has been a major player in the development of Singapore's arts scene.

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(Chief Editor:xiaoya)
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