Singapore Immigration Work Permits and Visas

About Singapore

Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963, but withdrew two years later and became independent. It subsequently became one of the world's most prosperous countries, with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world's busiest) and with per capita GDP above that of the leading nations of Western Europe.

Singapore is blessed with a highly developed and successful free-market economy, a remarkably open and corruption-free business environment, stable prices, and the fifth highest per capita GDP in the world. Exports, particularly in electronics and chemicals, and services are the main drivers of the economy.

The government promotes high levels of savings and investment through a mandatory savings scheme and spends heavily in education and technology. It also owns government-linked companies (GLCs) - particularly in manufacturing - that operate as commercial entities and account for 60% of GDP. As Singapore looks to a future increasingly marked by globalization, the country is positioning itself as the region's financial and high-tech hub.

Singapore is both an island and a country, but perhaps its best description is that of city-state. Like the great city-states of the past, it offers civilization and order in the highest degree. Its combination of Western-style development and Eastern-style calm seems to present the best of both hemispheres: It's a modern metropolis where you feel safe walking the streets, and it's an Asian business center that's a model of efficiency. Singapore is also a multicultural city, and close to one-quarter of its population are expatriates or foreign workers from all over the world. Known for its desire to become the technology hub of Asia, Singapore is the most wired country in the region.

Although a small island, Singapore offers a broad range of sightseeing options thanks to its ethnic and religious diversity. And not all attractions are associated with modern, urban Singapore: Surviving enclaves of the early migrant settlers dot various parts of the island. The country's nerve center during the days of British rule, the Colonial District, still has the regal charm of the original British government buildings and living quarters. Sights include the Parliament House, the History Museum (it has a remarkable jade collection), the Fullerton Hotel (formerly the central post office building) and St. Andrew's Cathedral.

Belatedly, Singapore has curbed its aggressive campaign to replace old buildings with new ones, and begun revitalizing some of its most cherished landmarks. Empress Place, the waterfront's Clarke Quay and the Raffles Hotel (birthplace of the Singapore Sling) have all been restored to highly polished versions of their former glory. For the most part, neighborhood restorations are relatively small in scale -- they're more like exhibits than neighborhoods -- but with a little imagination, you can get a feel for Singapore's colorful past.

Many of the top attractions, including the National Orchid Garden and the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, are best enjoyed on foot in the morning, the coolest part of the day, or in the early evening. Maps of established walking trails are available at the entrances and at the tourist offices. Among the other attractions that we feel should not be missed: Little India's Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple or Chinatown's Sri Mariamman temple, the Night Safari and the nearby zoo. For those who want to get a feel for the bustling lives of the locals, we recommend taking the MRT trains to any of Singapore's outlying districts, especially Bishan, Katong in the East, Geylang (the area near the Paya Lebar station), Ang Mo Kio, Pasir Ris or Toa Payoh.

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