The skyline of Singapore's central business district
Around Asia you will often hear some good-natured jibes at Singapore. It's often referred to as the "nanny state" for the government's apparent interest in the minutiae of its citizen's lives. However, there's no doubt a little jealousy behind the sarcasm. Singapore is, by just about any measure, a highly "successful" country. Its citizens enjoy a standard of living that is at or near the top of Asia. They have one of the best educational systems anywhere, with English as the common language. The heart of Singapore is a modern city center very much in the western style, with an efficient and integrated transportation system. One business associate of mine even refers to Singapore as "Asia for beginners." Perhaps, given the recent trend in self help books, it should be "Asia for dummies."
Singapore is an island -- actually one large one and 59 smaller ones -- that lies at the tip of the Malay peninsula. The island sits between the straits of Malacca and the South China Sea. It's this strategic position that lead to Singapore's early importance as a trading port.
The main international airport, Changi, is at the east tip of the 42 kilometer (25 mile) wide island. The central business district, where most of the hotels, sights and shopping centers are located, is near the middle of the southern coast, where the Singapore River empties into the Straits of Singapore. The state's "playground" island of Sentosa lies just off the coast a little east of the city center.
See the "at a glance" page for more information to help you plan a visit to Singapore.