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Preface Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:42 AM

According to Malay legend, a Sumatran prince encountered a lion—considered a good omen—on Temasek, prompting him to found Singapura, or Lion City. It mattered little that lions had never inhabited Singapore (more likely the prince had seen a tiger); what did matter was the establishment of the region as a minor trading post for the powerful Sumatran Srivijaya empire.

Singapore might have remained a quiet backwater if not for Sir Stamford Raffles' intervention in 1819. The British had first established a presence in the Straits of Malacca in the 18th century, when the East India Company set out to secure and protect its line of trade from China to the colonies in India. Fearing expansionism from the Dutch, who had been the dominant European power in the region for nearly 200 years, Raffles argued for a British presence, which he was promptly given.

Under his tutelage, Singapore's forlorn reputation was forgotten. Migrants, attracted by a tariff-free port, poured in by the thousands, and a flourishing colony with a military and naval base was established. Singapore's inexorable growth continued into the 20th century.

A diversity of races lives here. The Chinese are predominantly followers of Buddhism and Shenism; Malays are overwhelmingly Muslims; and most of Singapore's Indians are Hindus. And despite the country's rapid industrialization, the majority of Singaporeans still celebrate the major festivals associated with their respective religions.

Street performances are held during important festivals, such as Chinese New Year. The Lion Dance is a spectacular, acrobatic dance usually performed during Chinese festivals. Other performing arts include Malay and Indian dances. There are also those who consider that the mainstay of Singaporean culture must be shopping.

The four official languages are Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, and English. English is widespread and unites the various ethnic groups. Older Singaporeans use a unique patois called Singlish, which uses a clipped form of English mixed with Malay and Hokkien words.

Singapore is the food capital of Asia. Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian, and Western foods are all on offer, and some of the tastiest creations are those sold from the atmospheric street stalls.

The country has been the economic success story of the region and has grown into one of Asia's economic powerhouses. The city-state can be seen, when viewed in comparison to its sprawling and socially fractured neighboring nations of Indonesia and Malaysia, as an island of flawlessness—neatly manicured lawns and identical flower planters, freshly painted buildings, and squeaky-clean streets.

Singapore is a nation that seems, on the outside, and to the visitor, to be nearly perfect.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

The Republic of Singapore is a small city/state island located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, 85 miles north of the Equator. It is a flat country of 250 square miles (641 square miles) with a maximum elevation of 581 feet. At its widest points it measures 26 miles from east to west and 14 miles north to south.

Vegetation is lush and tropical. Seasons are nonexistent. In this "Land of Eternal Summer," the mean high temperature is 90ºF and varies little from month to month. Humidity is high (average 70%) and annual rainfall is about 96 inches. Wet and dry seasons are not distinct, but November through February is wetter and cooler than other months. Over an extended period, the climate can be oppressive. Depending on the length of your stay, the lack of climatic variation coupled with the difficulties in living on an island may cause psychological weariness. For this reason regular exercise and vacations are important here. Even in a clean city like Singapore, the tropical climate fosters minor health problems; germs and viruses thrive here. Complaints of recurring colds and other infections are common. Air-conditioning probably contributes to the cold problem.

Many shops and restaurants are overly cooled, and frequent transitions from heat to cold promote illnesses. Mildew is another problem. Books, records, leather goods and any items not used or aired regularly or stored in a non-air-conditioned room are vulnerable. Closets and bureau drawers often have a musty odor that is difficult to eliminate. Rust is also a problem. Metal items that aren't painted or tropicalized begin to rust in a short time. Singapore, like all tropical areas, has its share of cockroaches, water bugs, ants and termites, but few flies. Despite the annoying mosquitoes, malaria is not a problem here. The Singapore Government has made great strides in controlling the breeding areas of most insect pests.

Population Last Updated: 2/16/2005 1:34 AM

Singapore's population in 2004 is 4.24 million and comprises mainly Chinese, Malays, Indians, and others. A fascinating melange of cultures fulfills the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board's promise of instant Asia with many of the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the East available here. Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil (the language of southeastern India) are official languages. Most of the Chinese are descendants of immigrants who came from China's southern provinces; their main dialects are Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese. Nevertheless, the Government has initiated a campaign stressing the learning of Mandarin by all Singaporeans, particularly the Chinese. English is the language of administration; 75% of Singapore's citizens speak and understand at least rudimentary English. A knowledge of one of the other languages is not necessary, but Mandarin and Malay can be useful, the latter especially for traveling in Malaysia.

Singapore is a secular state with considerable religious tolerance. In terms of the number of adherents, the main religions are Taoism, Islam, Buddhism (mostly Mahayana), Christianity (almost equally divided between Catholic and Protestant), and Hinduism, but the population also includes Sikhs, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Jains. Two holidays of each major religious group in Singapore are set-aside as national holidays. And each ethnic group preserves its individuality by enthusiastically celebrating its cultural and religious traditions. For example, Thaipusam, a Hindu religious observance that is dying out in India, is celebrated widely in Singapore. Chinese New Year is a 2-week festival marked by feasting and home celebration. Muslims celebrate Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji.

The many languages, races, religions and cultures in Singapore have resulted in an acceptance on all sides of the varied character of life here. Except for Muslim or Hindu dietary restrictions, which must be honored when entertaining Malays or Indians, few taboos differ markedly from those in the U.S.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 3/24/2005 2:07 AM

The ruling political party in Singapore, in power since 1959, is the People's Action Party (PAP), now headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, a son of Lee Kuan Yew who served as Singapore's prime minister from independence through 1990. The elder Lee is still in the government as minister mentor. Mr. Goh Chok Tong who was prime minister from 1990 stepped down in 2004 but has remained in the government as senior minister. The PAP has held the overwhelming majority of seats in Parliament since 1966, when the opposition Barisan Sosiahs Party (Socialist Front), a left-wing group that split off from the PAP in 1961, resigned from Parliament, leaving the PAP as the sole representative party. In the general elections of 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980, the PAP won all of the seats in an expanding Parliament. Workers' Party Secretary General J.B. Jeyaretnam became the first opposition party MP in 15 years when he won a 1981 election. Opposition parties gained small numbers of seats in the general elections of 1984 (2 seats out of a total of 79), 1988 (1 seat of 81), 1991 (4 seats of 81) and 1997 (2 seats of 81), and 2001 (2 seats of 84). Meanwhile, the PAP share of the popular vote in contested seats has ranged from 61% in 1991 to 75% in 2001; less than half the seats were contested by the opposition in the three general elections since 1991.

Singapore has remained in the Commonwealth of Nations, and it joined the United Nations in 1965; it was one of the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967.

Singapore is a free trading country and a significant importer of food and agricultural products. But, as the major trading center for Southeast Asia, Singapore trades or transships 75% of imports to neighboring markets. The government is committed to a policy of free enterprise but is involved in commerce and industry.

Singapore has instituted an extensive social development program of education, housing, medical care and social welfare. One of the most impressive achievements is low-cost public housing. This housing consists of high-rise apartments built by the government. Eighty-six percent of the public lives in public housing blocks, with almost all owning their apartments. The Housing Development Board controls public housing.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 3/24/2005 0:29 AM

The Singapore Government provides at least 10 years of education for each child. Students are required to pay a nominal fee. The quality of education is excellent by world standards. The language of instruction in most schools is English and the literacy rate in at least one of the four official languages is estimated to be 94%. This is the result of an education policy which emphasizes the learning of English and the mother tongue.

Singapore's universities are also of high quality. Singapore is positioning itself as an educational hub; a number of foreign universities have established branches or affiliated programs in Singapore. Singapore actively recruits international students. Singapore's institutions of higher learning are the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), and several polytechnics. Both NUS and NTU offer courses leading to bachelor and graduate degrees in a wide variety of disciplines. Courses at the polytechnics are comparable to U.S. junior colleges. Each year, a large number of Singaporean students also go abroad for higher studies. Most go to the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain.

The NUS offers noncredit evening lecture series in a variety of subjects, such as language instruction, painting, public speaking, interior decorating and photography. Similar courses are offered by community centers and the YWCA/YMCA. The community centers and YWCA/YMCA also teach yoga, Pilates, cooking, flower arrangement, children's art and social dancing. Language and other courses are widely available. To view the range of courses offered at community centers, visit the People's Association website at
Lessons in most sports are available, but participation may require membership in a club. Golf, bowling, tennis, squash, rugby, soccer, softball, swimming, sailing, horseback riding, judo and ice-skating are among those available.

Culture. It is the government's policy to preserve and nurture the traditions of the various ethnic communities. The arts in Singapore are as varied as its cultural heritage. A variety of amateur organizations regularly put on ethnic dance, drama, and musical performances. In addition, foreign artists and groups, including popular recording artists, are frequent visitors and perform to full houses and appreciative audiences.

The National Arts Council is the principal impresario, with sponsorship from the government, diplomatic missions, the business community and foundations. The premier cultural event is the annual Singapore Arts Festival. More information is available on the Festival's website at The month-long Festival features outstanding local, regional, and international productions, representing all facets of the performing arts. The Houston Ballet, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Magic Theater of San Francisco, and jazz greats Ellis Marsalis, Billy Taylor and Herbie Mann are some of the American groups participating in previous festivals. There are also annual jazz, drama, comedy and choral festivals.

The Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), a full-time professional orchestra, performs regularly at the Esplanade and occasionally gives outdoor performances at parks and community centers. The Symphony's season is divided into four quarterly series, each consisting of six to eight pairs of concerts. The SSO also performs pops concerts. The orchestra often features renowned conductors and soloists as guest performers.

The Singapore History Museum displays the rich historical heritage of Singapore as a nation. The Asian Civilizations Museum focuses on the cultures of the different ethnic groups that make up Singapore society. The Singapore Art Museum houses the national art collection of Singapore and is dedicated to the collection and display of 20th-century Singapore and Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art. More information about the museums, which comes under the National Heritage Board, is available on their website at

Information on current cultural events is provided daily in the Straits Times and other local papers. Upcoming cultural events are also publicized over radio and television.

The Singapore Science Center was established in 1970 and is rated as one of the most outstanding institutions of its kind in the world. It is a non-formal educational institution dedicated to the promotion of science and technology among students and public. More information on the Singapore Science Center is available at

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

Singapore's strategic location on major sea-lanes and its industrious population have given the country an economic importance in Southeast Asia disproportionate to its small size. Upon independence in 1965 Singapore was faced with a lack of physical resources and a small domestic market. In response, the Singapore Government developed an international business outlook and an export-oriented economic policy framework that encouraged two-way flows of trade and investment. Singapore's economic strategy proved a success.

Singapore's honest government, willing workforce, and modern efficient infrastructure have attracted investments from more than 3,000 multinational corporations (MNCs) from the U.S., Japan, and Europe. Foreign firms are found in almost all sectors of the economy. MNCs account for more than two-thirds of manufacturing output and direct export sales. Manufacturing and financial and business services are the twin engines of Singapore's economy. Tourism is also a major income generator for the economy. The electronics industry leads Singapore's manufacturing sector.

Infrastructure. With the interests of business in mind, Singapore has forged an infrastructure on par with that of many developed nations. Singapore has reliable and sophisticated networks for telecommunications, transportation and utilities.

Singapore's highly developed telecommunications infrastructure has a phone line penetration rate rivaling that of developed countries. About a quarter of Singaporeans have mobile phones and almost half own pagers. To promote the growth of information industries, Broadband internet access is available throughout the island.

Singapore's transportation network is efficient and modern. Its port competes with Hong Kong's for the title of world's busiest port. Singapore's airport is considered among the best in the world. The road system is well maintained and congestion is managed through the use of road pricing schemes and a quota on the vehicle population (Note: Singapore implemented an electronic road pricing system in August 1998). The public transportation system, which includes an efficient metro system, provides island-wide coverage for a reasonable price.

The utility networks provide reliable services. Health, safety and building codes have become increasingly strict over the years and provide adequate protection.


Automobiles Last Updated: 7/29/2005 4:05 AM

Importing a Vehicle

Employees on the diplomatic list are allowed to import one duty-free, tax-free (right-hand or left-hand drive) personally owned vehicle (POV) into Singapore. Aministrative & Technical (A&T) staff are authorized to import or locally purchase only one right-hand drive duty-free, tax-free vehicle per family. A&T staff are not authorized to import or purchase a left-hand drive vehicle.

Importation of vehicles requires special approval in all cases and vehicles more than seven years old cannot be imported under any circumstances. Left-hand drive vehicles imported into Singapore must be re-exported upon completion of the employee's tour.

A right-hand drive vehicle that is less than 3 years old when it is originally imported and registered can be re-sold here. If the car is between 3-7 years old when imported, it must be exported or scrapped when it reaches ten years of age. The GSO section will send you more details regarding vehicle importation upon request. Under no circumstances should you ship a POV to Post without first requesting full instructions from GSO. All imported vehicles must comply with rigorous testing and registration requirements. The GSO section will send you more details regarding vehicle importation upon request. Under no circumstances should you ship a POV to post without first requesting full instruction.

A motorcycle is considered a POV for duty-free importation and registration purposes.

Purchasing a Vehicle in Singapore

Employees on the diplomatic list may purchase a second vehicle locally in the name of their spouse. However, if both the diplomatic staff member’s and the spouse’s vehicles are purchased locally, the vehicle registered in the name of the spouse must be exported or scrapped at the end of the employee’s tour of duty.

All vehicles purchased by diplomatic and A&T staff are exempted from duties, road tax and certificate of entitlement. A S$10 fee is charged for the transfer of a vehicle from one owner to another.

All personnel are advised to check with GSO before agreeing to purchase a vehicle or making a down payment.

Registering a Vehicle.

When an employee notifies GSO of their intent to import or purchase a vehicle, GSO will write to the Ministry asking permission. The entire process to register the vehicle (including MFA permission, customs exemption and application to LTA) can take up to a month.

After an employee registers a vehicle, he or she may not register a replacement vehicle for 3 years without special permission from MFA. Normally, permission will only be given if the first vehicle is scrapped.


The minimum insurance requirement by the Singapore Government is third party liability coverage. This must be purchased from an insurance company operating in Singapore. Comprehensive policies are also available. GSO will be able to provide you the list of insurance companies from whom you can get quotations and policy plans. If you can provide a “no claim letter” from your last insurance company, you can receive a premium discount of 10% for each year without a claim, up to a maximum of 50%.

Employees can also purchase collision insurance coverage from firms not operating in Singapore. However, if you do so, you will be responsible for paying for any repairs and then filing a claim with your insurance company.

Drivers Licenses

Embassy personnel are allowed to drive in Singapore with their American license for one year. After one year, they are required to obtain a Singapore license. Employees on the diplomatic list can convert their U.S. license without taking an examination. In order for GSO Shipping Section to submit the application to the Traffic Police, please forward a valid U.S. license, diplomatic I.D., passport, one photo and a completed application form to them. There is no fee charged for diplomatic personnel and their spouses to obtain a Singapore drivers license.

A&T staff members and/or spouses are required to pass a Basic Theory Test before applying for a Singapore driving license. Both the application for test date and conversion of license must be made in person at any of the following driving centers:

a) Comfort Driving Center

205 Ubi Avenue 4

Singapore 408865

b) Bukit Batok Driving Center

815 Bukit Batok West Avenue 5

Singapore 659085

c) Singapore Safety Driving Center

3 Ang Mo Kio Street 62

Singapore 569139

The applicant has to furnish the following document and fee for the booking of a test date:

a) Passport and Entry Permit

b) Test Fee: S$6.00 Registration Fee: S$5.25

After passing the test, the following documents (both originals & photocopies) are required for license conversion:

a) Passport and Entry Permit

b) A valid qualified foreign driving license

c) A recent colored passport size photograph with matt or semi-matt finish on white background

d) A fee of S$50.00

The license issued to staff members on both the diplomatic and A&T lists is valid for 5 years. The processing time to obtain a Singapore drivers license is about 2 weeks from the time of application.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:00 AM

Taxis are affordable, clean and safe. They are generally plentiful, except during rush hours or when it rains. Bus service is frequent and inexpensive. Most housing in Post’s pool is within walking distance of a bus stop with a direct line to the Embassy. The underground transportation system, called the MRT, is one of the best in the world. However, there is no MRT station near the Embassy. Singapore’s main roads and streets are excellent.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:01 AM

Planes: More than 29 airlines and about 250 shipping lines serve Singapore. Flights link neighboring countries, and distances (in terms of air miles) are: Kuala Lumpur, 204; Jakarta, 557; Bangkok, 897; Manila, 1,481; Hong Kong, 1,607. United Airlines has daily flights to Singapore from the US via Hong Kong and Tokyo. Northwest Airlines also has daily flights to and from the US via Tokyo. The Changi International Airport in Singapore is one of the most efficient airports in the world.

Trains: Rail trips by Embassy personnel are rare. The Malayan Railroad offers service to Kuala Lumpur and Penang, and connections through to Bangkok and other points in Thailand. Service is good and cars are clean and sometimes air-conditioned. Use second- and third-class travel only if you are willing to endure some discomfort. The trip from Singapore to Penang takes 20 to 22 hours. Round-trip train fare to Bangkok is S$408 and takes 46 hours one way.

Buses: Local companies offer bus trips to destinations in Malaysia such as Kuala Lumpur and Malacca. Buses are air conditioned, reasonably comfortable, and affordable. A bus to KL takes approximately 5 hours and costs S$50. A bus to Malacca takes approximately 4 hours and costs S$30.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 5/2/2005 10:12 PM

The telephone system works better here than in other major Southeast Asian cities. International connections are excellent and calls to the U.S. are clearer than those to Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta.

Each residence is wired with one residential telephone line and equipped with one push button phone. An unlisted directory number for the residential phone line will be arranged by the embassy on your behalf prior to arrival if your agency's ICASS service agreement permits it. This will be done for all Department of State employees. The monthly bill for the telephone service is the responsibility of the resident. Each month, a bill addressed to the resident will arrive at the embassy. The national phone company is SingTel ( SingTel offers a wide variety of consumer services comparable to anything available in the US. Reliability is also comparable to the US. Information on consumer rates and services can be obtained from their website. SingTel offers a series of different International Direct Dial (IDD) prefixes that offer varying degrees of cost vs. quality. They are: "001" which offers the best quality but the highest rate; "013" which offers moderate quality at a less expensive rate; "019" which offers voice-over-IP quality at a discount rate; "020" which offers discounted rates to Malaysia. A 15-minute call to the US from Singapore using the "019" prefix costs $2.66 Singapore dollars.

Mobile phones or cell phones in Singapore are referred to as "hand phones." There are three major providers in Singapore: SingTel (, Starhub ( and M1 ( The quality and reliability of mobile phone communications in Singapore is as good as anything available in the US. All providers offer a wide variety of consumer features and services. Visit their websites to learn more. Simple Message Service (SMS) is available and widely used. Singapore uses the GSM-GPRS standard. All Singapore mobile phones use SIMM-cards to identify themselves on the cell network. Therefore, you can easily move your directory number from one phone to another at will. An inexpensive dual-band device will work in Singapore and surrounding countries such as Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Tri-band or quad-band devices will be needed if you wish to have one device work in the US or Japan as well as Singapore. A used dual band device can be purchased in Singapore for as little as $50 US dollars. A cell phone with a local Singapore directory number will be provided for you by the Embassy if your agency's ICASS service agreement permits it. This will be done for all Department of State employees. In this case, monthly bills will be sent to the Embassy and you will be responsible for all charges and tolls not related official use.

Internet Last Updated: 5/2/2005 10:13 PM

Internet access is widely available in Singapore and is hosted over cable, DSL and dial-up connections. Starhub ( and SingTel ( are the two largest providers. Reliability and speed are comparable to anything offered in the US. Starhub offers cable connectivity at 6.5Mbps for $50 USD per month. SingTel offers DSL and dialup capability. Discount dial-up service often found in the US is not available in Singapore. Therefore, dialup is not really cost-effective. However, as a quick way to get online you may wish to register your SingTel residential phone line for their dialup pay-as-you go plan. There is no base charge for this service and it costs $0.02 SGD per minute. This would be a convenient way to get connected as soon as you arrive or until you have a broadband solution installed at your home.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 3/24/2005 0:46 AM

Mail and Pouch

The American Embassy has a Fleet Post Office (FPO) which processes official mail, plus incoming and outgoing personal mail, for direct-hire U.S. citizen employees and their dependents. The FPO sells U.S. postage stamps that may be purchased by check or cash. FPO users can send mail postage-free to other regional posts within the FPO/APO Pacific region. The FPO window hours are 8:30 am - 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, except local and American holidays and on diplomatic pouch days (every other Tuesday). Any parcels mailed through the FPO for the U.S. must have a U.S. Customs form attached (provided by the FPO).

Mail from the United States can be sent with domestic first-class postage when addressed as follows:

FPO address: Your Full Name
American Embassy Singapore
Box (your office)
FPO AP 96507

Unclassified Pouch & Local Mailroom processes mail daily to and from the Singapore postal service. It does not sell local stamps, but does have a franking machine for official mail. It also handles DHL and FedEx, plus unclassified diplomatic pouch mail. Interoffice messenger envelopes may also be dropped in the Local Mailroom's drop box for distribution to the receiving office's mailbox. Except in approved circumstances, personal mail should not be sent by unclassified pouch, but rather by FPO.

Local Mailroom hours are:
09:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
02:00 p.m. - 04:30 p.m.

Pouch Address for Official mail:
Your Full Name
4280 Singapore Place
Washington DC 20521-4280

Pouch Addresses for Personal Mail:
Your Full Name
4280 Singapore Place
Dulles VA 20521-4280

Singapore Post International Mail As of March 2005, current Singapore Post rates for mail to the U.S. are: S$1.00 for a 20-gram airmail letter; S$0.35 for every additional 10 grams; S$0.50 for an airmail post card; S$0.50 for a 20-gram surface letter. International airmail between Singapore and the U.S. is dependable and generally efficient. Surface packages take from 6 weeks to 2 months to reach the U.S. Mail within Southeast Asia is sometimes less dependable. The most current postage rates can be found at

For mail that is air-couriered, or mailed from countries other than the U.S., use the following International Mail address:

American Embassy
Attn: Your Name
27 Napier Road
Singapore 258508

Radio and TV Last Updated: 3/24/2005 0:24 AM

The state-owned Media Corporation of Singapore (MediaCorp) radio broadcasts daily on AM and FM, in four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, on separate frequencies. Programs are varied and news is reported on the hour. There is an 18-hour news and information radio station and numerous 24-hour FM stereo popular music stations broadcasting in English. VOA morning and evening newscasts can be heard on short wave, and BBC "World Service" broadcasts are relayed on FM 24 hours a day. All types of radios are sold in Singapore at reasonable prices.

Six Singaporean and three Malaysian color TV channels are received here. Many American programs are shown, including popular series and documentaries. There is cable in most apartments for a minimum charge of about S$20 a month, which has Star TV, ESPN, CNN, Discovery, Cartoon Network, HBO, Disney, Nickelodeon and Hallmark as well as local programs. The TV system is 625 PAL, as opposed to the U.S. system, which is 525 NTSC. Therefore, American TVs will not operate here without expensive and sometimes unsuccessful alterations. Multi-system (NTSC, PAL, SECAM) TV monitors and video players can be purchased locally at reasonable prices. Multi-system video equipment can be used in the U.S. In Singapore, a color set can be purchased for about S$200 for a small screen TV to about S$8000 for a large screen plasma TV.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 3/24/2005 0:25 AM

Several local English-language newspapers are published in Singapore, led by the Straits Times. International news coverage in The Straits Times is excellent. The International Herald Tribune is printed in Singapore via satellite and available on newsstands the same day. International editions of Time and Newsweek are on newsstands every Thursday, and the Asian edition of Reader's Digest is also available. Many other U.S. magazines appear on newsstands at two or three times their U.S. price. Highly specialized periodicals and most general interest magazines are available. However, to ensure an affordable supply of favorite periodicals, subscribe to them using the FPO address.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

Medical facilities are excellent for most health problems. Competent English speaking specialists in almost every field can be found in Singapore. Good obstetric care is available and most women can deliver their babies safely. Many of the specialists have trained in the U.K., Australia, U.S. or Canada as well as in Singapore and speak English well. Most Americans use Mt. Elizabeth, Gleneagles, Mt. Alvernia, Thomas Medical Center, and East Shore Hospitals. Both government and private hospitals with the latest diagnostic equipment can be found in Singapore. Very good dental care is available. Homeopathic, Chinese herbal and acupuncture practitioners as well as chiropractors do not have governing bodies and therefore should be used with caution.

Community Health Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

Singapore is probably the cleanest city in Asia. Sewage and garbage disposal is not a problem. Daily trash collection is efficient. Tap water is potable and contains fluoride. Keep in mind that the hot humid weather causes foods to spoil more quickly. Eat foods that are well cooked or well refrigerated especially foods with fish or dairy.

The government keeps up a constant battle against mosquitoes and other insects. Ants and cockroaches are more of a problem here than in temperate climates. Most Americans have found that typical overseas precautions in food preparation are unnecessary here. Fruits and vegetables should be washed. Locally packaged food causes no ill effects. Most local restaurants, including hawker stalls, are safe.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 3/23/2005 10:47 PM

Singapore has few health hazards. Malaria has been eradicated, although it may be contracted in surrounding countries. Also transmitted by mosquitoes, dengue fever is more of a problem, and may last for 2 or 3 months.

Singapore provides a good environment for young children.

The Singapore Ministry of Health recommends that those coming to Singapore be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough, but merely as a precautionary measure. You do not need smallpox and cholera shots.

The Ministry's Medical Division may recommend other inoculations that are authorized by the personnel officer for staff and their families on request. It is not necessary to ship drugs or sundry items unless you prefer certain brands. Because vitamins are expensive here, bring a supply from the U.S.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 3/24/2005 0:57 AM

The American Association Career Resource Center for expats (CRCE) operates an employment program in conjunction with U.S. companies in Singapore for American spouses and for students during school-summer vacation.
Work permits for employment outside the Embassy are difficult, but not impossible to obtain. The CRCE will provide guidance in applying for a letter of consent, which permits an individual to work under a dependent pass. "The Letter of Consent (LOC) accelerates the lengthy employment pass process and allows the individual to commence work immediately."

Dependents working on the local economy, regardless of whether they are on the diplomatic list, are required to file Singapore income tax returns and pay any income taxes that may be due.

Embassy policy provides hiring preference for U. S. citizen adult family members when fully qualified. Certain temporary Family Member Appointment (FMA) positions are available, one of which is the Community Liaison Coordinator position. The Embassy has a summer program for dependent students from June to August. Other temporary and limited appointments may be available occasionally with other U.S. Government agencies.

The Singapore American School and other international schools often seek trained teachers. Any interested and qualified family member should correspond directly with the school before arriving at post. The address is:
40, Woodlands Street 41,
Singapore 738547
Tel: (65) 363-3408
Home Page: http//

The Singapore Ministry of Education also hires some Americans to teach English in public schools. A good deal of voluntary work is also available.

American Embassy - Singapore

Post City Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

For centuries, Singapore has been a commercial hub and travel center of the world's most storied region. Its compact 250 square miles (641 kilometers) contain a little corner of China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Hong Kong. In an unprecedented social experiment, modern Singapore has united these diverse cultures in building a dynamic, prosperous country. Here is the world's second largest port, a banking and business capital, a handsome city of the future that offers the ultimate in comfort.

Security Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:47 AM

Threat Assessment and Security Information: All travelers should be aware of Department of State's latest travel warnings and public announcements, available at the Consular Affairs website at In December of 2001 and again in August 2002, Singapore security services arrested members of a domestic terrorist network with links to Al-Qaida. The network had planned attacks against government and private targets in Singapore associated with the U.S., Singapore, and other countries. In the aftermath of October 2002 terrorist bombings in Bali, Indonesia, however, the State Department is concerned that similar attacks may occur in other Southeast Asian nations, including Singapore, because extremist groups present in Southeast Asia have demonstrated transnational capabilities to carry out attacks against locations where westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Americans residing in or traveling to Singapore and neighboring countries should therefore exercise particular caution, especially in locations where westerners congregate, such as clubs, discos, bars, restaurants, hotels, places of worship, schools, outdoor recreation venues, tourist areas, resorts, beaches and other places frequented by foreigners. They should remain vigilant regarding their personal security.

Crime in Singapore is generally non-confrontational in nature. Criminal acts are usually crimes of opportunity such as purse snatching, pick pocketing, or thefts of unattended property. Visitors should be especially alert in crowded buses, streets and markets. Visitors should not leave any valuables in their hotel rooms.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 3/29/2005 10:04 PM

The Chancery is a contemporary American office building in a tropical garden city. The Embassy features a stone facing for the first two stories with a three-story office tower rising from the base. It also includes a reflecting pool and a landscaped colonnade at the entrance. The Embassy is located on Napier Road, just a short walking distance from Orchard Road. Located in the building, in addition to the Department of State, are the Defense Attaché’s Office (with Air, Army and Navy Attaché’s), the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcment, U.S. Agricultural Office, Transport Securiity Administration, the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service, Office of Defense Cooperation, and the Legal Attaché Office. The Embassy's Office of Public Affairs is dedicated to the understanding and support by foreign countries of U.S. policies and actions through cultural and public information programs. A U.S. Government agency that is located elsewhere is the Federal Aviation Administration at Changi Airport. Also assigned to the Embassy is a unit of the U.S. Coast Guard, and a Marine Security Guard Detachment.

Embassy hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. There is a duty officer on call after work hours and on weekends. Duty is assigned on a rotational basis. Employees are paid every other Thursday, 12 days after the end of the pay period.

Most agencies at the U.S. Embassy participate in the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) system, and all fiscal matters, including payroll, are handled by the Financial Service Center in Bangkok. The exchange rate has declined steadily in recent years. At present the rate is S$1.64=US$1. American employees have up to US$1500 of check cashing privileges per week with the Embassy cashier. Cashier hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. daily. For larger amounts, an approval from the financial management officer must be obtained.

Housing Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:05 AM

The Embassy provides government-leased quarters for all personnel except those assigned to the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) and the U.S. Coast Guard. The Inter-Agency Housing Board follows official guidelines for providing suitable housing based on rank and family size. Employees are usually housed in apartments in modern complexes, which generally feature swimming pools and work out rooms. It is the policy of the Mission to assign housing to new employees before arrival. Therefore, it is critical that all newly-assigned personnel make any special needs known to GSO/Housing by promptly completing a housing questionnaire, which the GSO Housing Coordinator will forward to all assigned officers.

Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:08 AM

It is Mission policy to assign permanent quarters to all in-coming employees before arrival. However, in instances where temporary quarters are required, employees stay at one of the many modern hotels or serviced apartments available in Singapore.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:09 AM

The Embassy provides government-leased quarters for all personnel except those assigned to the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) and the U.S. Coast Guard. The Inter-Agency Housing Board follows official guidelines for providing suitable housing based on rank and family size. Employees are usually housed in apartments in modern complexes, which generally feature swimming pools and work out rooms. It is the policy of the Mission to assign housing to new employees before arrival. Therefore, it is critical that all newly-assigned personnel make any special needs known to GSO/Housing by promptly completing a housing questionnaire, which the GSO Housing Coordinator will forward to all assigned officers.

Furnishings Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:06 AM

Government furniture is provided, either by the individual agency or by the ICASS housing pool, for employees of all agencies except DEA, ICE, ODC, and US Coast Guard. Employees of the agencies listed above are authorized full shipments of their household goods.

Government furnishings generally consist of a European-style oven and range, a refrigerator, washer, dryer, vacuum cleaner, 2-3 transformers, and basic living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture. A desk, entertainment center, and 2-3 bookshelves are also provided.

Employees should bring knickknacks, pictures, linens, kitchenware, dinnerware, flatware, and cookbooks to make the home as comfortable as possible. Commercial storage is expensive in Singapore, and housing is small, so in-coming personnel should be careful not to ship too much.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:06 AM

Electricity is 220v, single-phase, 50-cycle, AC, and is very reliable. Light bulbs for local fixtures are both the bayonet and the screw-in types and both are readily available. All quarters have hot and cold running water 24 hours a day. A gas or electric water heater is installed for the kitchen and bathrooms. All Embassy housing comes with air conditioning. As the weather in Singapore is warm all year round, heaters are unnecessary.

Plugs are the three-prong square British type. Most 110/115/120v motor driven appliances will work here but require a transformer. The Embassy provides 2-3 transformers per residence. A large supply of transformers is also available on the local economy at reasonable prices.

A variety of stereos, televisions, and other electronic equipment is available at competitive prices. The TV system in use is PAL.

Food Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:01 AM

There is a small Navy Exchange for U.S. Government employees in Singapore located about a half hour from the Embassy. However, most international food items are available in local groceries. Some items are occasionally out of stock, and most U.S. products are expensive.

The major supermarkets are comparable to U.S. supermarkets (Cold Storage, Jasons, and Fairprice). Some families also have a grocer who takes daily telephone orders and delivers goods to their homes. These items cost more than in the supermarket, but for many the service is timesaving and convenient. Additionally, many grocery stores have an online ordering system for home delivery.

The American Employees Association operates a small store in the Embassy that sells liquor, beer, and wine to members from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant, both the local, tropical varieties and those imported from either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, depending on the season. Oranges and apples shipped from the U.S. and elsewhere are of high quality. Orange juice is expensive. Canned goods are imported from Australia, Taiwan, the People's Republic of China, the U.S., and various European countries. Baby foods and formulas, both U.S. and Australian brands, are available but are more expensive than in the U.S. Frozen foods are available; the Australian brands are less expensive. Variety is somewhat limited. Fresh milk and other fresh dairy products are imported from Australia and are expensive.

Good meat is imported from Australia and New Zealand. Most is fresh frozen and is available in ample quantities and varieties. Australian beef has a slightly different taste and texture, as the cattle are grass fed rather than corn fed. Domestic chicken and locally raised pork of good quality are readily available at reasonable prices. Prepared mixes, cereals, cookies, and fresh breads are available. While U.S. flour is obtainable at most times, the most easily available and economical flour is Australian, which is finer than U.S. plain flour, and requires some adjustment in measurement. U.S. brands and spices are available. Local and imported soft drinks and snack foods are abundant. Specialty foods such as artichoke hearts are usually in stock. Disposable diapers are available in all sizes.

Food spoils quickly in this hot, humid climate. Airtight containers (which are available here) prolong freshness and keep ants and weevils out of flour, sugar, crackers, and cookies.

Caterers are widely used for both official and private entertaining. Dinners and cocktail parties are their specialties. Any of the local foods and/or a variety of Western foods may be served. Party equipment (tables, chairs, dishes, serving trays, and carts) can be rented, and servants can be hired, all at reasonable costs.

The Embassy cafeteria, open to all personnel, serves breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and lunch until 2 p.m.

One of the pleasures of living in Singapore is the profusion of restaurants and other eating establishments. A national pastime is eating at the numerous hawkers' centers, where local foods are served inexpensively. Buffet-style brunch and lunch are popular at the major hotels. International cuisine and Western fast food outlets are found conveniently located throughout the city.

Clothing Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:03 AM

Bring lightweight woolen clothing for trips to hill station parks in Malaysia where it is from 10 to 15 degrees cooler than in Singapore. For non-air-conditioned activities, clothing that would be appropriate during August in Washington, D.C. is suitable.

Ready-made women's clothing is available in Singapore, both locally made and imported from Australia, Europe, and the U.S. Local readymade garments are often inexpensive but difficult to find in sizes 12 and larger. Most often, the cut is sufficiently different and will not fit the American figure. Prices for imported clothing vary, from fairly reasonable to very overpriced. Most dressmakers are in the moderate price range, but their skill may be mediocre. Many US retailers will now take online orders and deliver to the FPO.

Men Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:03 AM

Lightweight trousers, shirt (long sleeved), and tie are appropriate office wear. Many men keep a jacket on hand only for official visits, introductions, etc. Dark suits are worn at some cocktail parties and informal receptions. Formal occasions are infrequent but require black tie (black tuxedo trousers with black lightweight dinner jacket). White-tie attire is not needed. Suitable fabrics for trousers and suits are lightweight Dacron, cotton blends, or any other washable fabrics. Casual ready-to-wear shorts and trousers are available. Some men have clothing tailor-made at about the same cost as a better quality ready-to-wear suit would cost in the U.S. Workmanship is good. A variety of British and U.S. men's clothing, such as shirts, socks, underwear, handkerchiefs, ties, and accessories, are sold in Singapore. U.S. items are more expensive. Size 34 waist and above is not easily obtained.

Women Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:04 AM

Cool and washable cottons and cotton blends are the best fabric choices in Singapore's heat and humidity. Frequent laundering is necessary, and clothes fade and wear more rapidly here than in the U.S. Dry-cleaning is available but expensive and not always reliable. Light colors are cooler for day, though both dark and light colors are worn day and evening. You can wear short- or long-sleeved and sleeveless dresses, depending on air-conditioning and personal preference. In the office, women wear dresses and may wear pantsuits; a sweater is useful because of air-conditioning.

Casual, summer daytime wear is appropriate for other everyday activities. Singaporeans dress conservatively but stylishly and are not usually seen in bare-shoulder or bare midriff-type dresses during the day. However, the very young post-teenage crowd wears them. Shorts and pants are worn for most. Eveningwear can be casual, dressy, or formal. Fabrics for daytime and eveningwear include Thai silk and other such materials, but the emphasis is always on cool, cotton fabrics. Women should bring at least one or two cocktail dresses. For formal occasions long and/or dressy cocktail dresses also can be made locally. All types of underwear are available with a choice of U.K., Australian, European and some U.S. brands. Cotton underwear is not easy to find locally, and neither is nylon hosiery. Leather, patent leather, linen, and silk shoes are worn as in the U.S. Low-heeled sandals are most comfortable, as closed shoes may be warm. Ready-made shoes are available, but sizes 8 or larger and narrow widths are available only in expensive European imports. Shoes can be made, but often with disappointing results. If proper fit is a problem for you, bring a good supply. Remember that your feet might swell in the tropical weather.

Children Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:06 AM

All schools, including the American School, require locally made uniforms. The Singapore American School uniform consists of a white polo shirt with school logo, which must be purchased from the school, and navy blue bottoms of any style (shorts, shirts, capris and pants are all acceptable). Bring play clothes for outside activities and some dress clothes for parties and church. Available ready-to-wear clothing includes some U.S. brands, but parents rely on local ready-made play clothes. Children's dress clothes can be made here inexpensively. Many parents order children's underwear from the U.S., particularly all-cotton socks, as most locally made socks are synthetic. Some good children's shoes are available, but proper fit may be a problem. Sports shoes in popular brands (Nike, Adidas, etc.) are readily available. Bring an adequate supply and decide after arrival whether to order from the U.S. or purchase locally available footwear. Clothing catalogs are available in the Community Liaison Office (CLO).

Office Attire Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:07 AM

Office attire in Singapore is business casual. Men typically where a long-sleeved white shirt and may or may not where a tie. Women may wish to have a jacket or sweater for indoors as air-conditioning can be extreme.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

There is no doubt that anything can be found in Singapore for a price. Toiletries and cosmetics available locally include most major U.S. brands but are expensive. Bring a limited supply of products that you require or prefer, and for items not available locally arrange to order additional supplies. There are several common brands of feminine personal products that are available on the local market. All types but not all brands of nonprescription drugs are here, but bring a limited supply and arrange to order any prescription that cannot be filled locally. American and other cigarettes, as well as cigars and pipe tobacco, are plentiful.

Basic Services Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

Singapore offers many types of repair services. Local craftsmanship is good quality and less expensive than in the U.S. In the Eastern tradition, china, furniture, shoes, etc., are repaired time and again; nothing that can be salvaged is discarded.

Quality of dry-cleaning varies, and even a firm you have come to trust can be undependable. Prices are high. Bring few clothes that will need dry-cleaning. Singapore has laundries, but an "amah" (domestic servant) will probably do the laundry in your home. Amahs are thorough, but not always gentle. They are one of the reasons clothes fade and wear out quickly.

Many beauty shops offer services comparable with those of average quality in the U.S. Some stylists or services are excellent, and most women eventually make satisfactory arrangements. Prices vary, but the average charge for a shampoo and set is US$25-US$35 and a haircut is US$40-US$60.

Most electronic equipment can be repaired locally; workmanship is reliable. U.S. equipment is more expensive to repair than Japanese and European brands. One of the few bargains in Singapore, picture framing, is inexpensive and of good quality. Nonreflecting glass is available, as is acid-free matting.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 7/29/2005 1:28 AM

Embassy employees employ both full-time live-in and part-time domestic employees. The Singapore government's Foreign Domestic Worker Scheme allows employers to employ female foreign domestic workers from approved sources such as Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh. It may be extremely difficult to bring a domestic employee from a country not on the approved list. Employees wishing to bring a domestic worker with them from another post should contact the HR office for detailed advice.

There are two common ways of finding a suitable foreign domestic worker for your household. One way is to employ a domestic worker through a licensed employment agency. Another way is through a recommendation from another employer who, for reasons such as a completion of his/her assignment in Singapore, refers his/her domestic worker to you.

An employer who wishes to employ a foreign domestic worker must apply for a work permit. First-time employers of foreign domestic workers in Singapore are required to attend the compulsory Employers Orientation Program before submitting a work permit application for the worker. A foreign domestic worker can enter Singapore only after the employer has obtained an in-principle approval (IPA) letter from the Work Pass Division (WPD), furnished a security bond of S$5,000 in the form of a banker's/insurance guarantee or in cash and purchased a Personal Accident insurance with a minimum coverage of S$10,000. This requirement is strictly enforced by the WPD. A foreign domestic worker who is brought in by the employer without first obtaining an IPA and an acknowledgement of a banker's guarantee from the WPD will be repatriated at the employer's expense.

First time domestic workers in Singapore must be at least 23 and below 50 years of age and must also show proof that they have at least 8 years of formal education. They are required to sit for an entry test within three work days after their arrival in Singapore and attend a compulsory Safety Awareness course after arrival in Singapore. Within 14 days of the worker's arrival, the worker must also undergo a medical examination and be certified fit by a Singapore registered doctor before they are issued a work permit. Subsequently, they must undergo six monthly medical examinations. If the worker has previously worked in Singapore, she must be at least 18 and below 50 years of age. A work permit is usually issued for two years subject to the foreign domestic worker's passport validity.

Foreign domestic workers employed by staff members (Diplomatic and A&T) of a diplomatic mission in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) Scheme are exempt from payment of the foreign workers' levy. For more detailed guidelines on employing a foreign domestic worker, please visit the Ministry of Manpower's website at (click on Work Permits). Officers may contact the HR Office or write to if there are questions on the employment of a foreign domestic worker.

An employee who employs a part-time Singaporean domestic worker need not seek approval from the Work Permit Department.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

Places of worship are as varied as the nation's ancestors. Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Church of Christ, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Christian Scientist, Jewish, Pentecostal, Church of Latter-day Saints, Hindu, Islamic, Sikh, Buddhist and more can be found in Singapore.

Services are conducted at most churches in English, although Mandarin is used in the predominately Chinese neighborhoods.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:14 AM

Singapore American School (SAS). Singapore American School is a U.S. State Department sponsored school and makes every effort to accept all American Embassy children immediately on request. Advance notice of entrants, however, is helpful, and because the school operates at full capacity, parents should apply as early as possible. The at-post education allowance is adequate to cover basic tuition and transportation for all grades, but not the specialized Interim Semester sponsored for the high school.

The school is located on a 36-acre campus approximately 30 minutes' drive from downtown Singapore. Due to bus schedules, children from most embassy housing areas are picked up around 7:00 am. New state-of-the-art facilities house four separate divisions, including primary (preschool through grade 2), intermediate (grades 3 through 5), middle (grades 6 through 8), and high school (grades 9 through 12). Each division has its own classrooms, library, and offices. Support facilities include 4 air-conditioned gymnasiums; 2 outdoor covered play areas; 2 swimming pools; 2 cafeterias; 6 tennis courts; a 1,000-seat stadium; track and field areas, and baseball, softball, soccer, and rugby fields. Middle and high school facilities include modern science laboratories; computer facilities; a language lab; and drafting, home economics, business, and applied technology classrooms. The campus also has a variety of performing arts facilities, including an 800-seat auditorium, a 350-seat drama theater, a 750-seat elementary theater, and designated classroom spaces for music, art, and drama. All facilities are fully air-conditioned.

The school is an independent, nonprofit, coeducational day school, which offers an educational program from preschool through grade 12 for students of all nationalities. The schoolyear is comprised of two semesters extending from approximately August 19 to June 4.

As of the 2004-2005 school year, the enrollment was around 3000. Of the total, about 60% were U.S. citizens. There were 216 full-time and 8 part-time staff members. The curriculum is that of a U.S. general academic, college-preparatory public school. Instruction is in English. French, Spanish, and Mandarin are taught as foreign languages. It is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The SAS dress code consists of navy blue pants, shorts, skirt or culottes, and a white polo-style shirt with school logo. The shirt must be purchased at the school; navy blue bottoms may be of any type. Parents may wish to bring them from the U.S. as children may not like the styles availalbe locally. The second and fourth Wednesdays of each month are designated as alternate dress days, and students may wear clothing of their choice.

Singapore American School
40, Woodlands Street 41
Singapore 738547
Tel: (65) 363-3403
Fax: (65) 363-3408
Home page:

Overseas Family School (OFS) occupies its own seven-building area spanning 5 acres located near the Orchard Road shopping district. It has 1,500 students from 53 nations (not one dominating) in grades K-12 and college. OFS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). It offers a U.S. curriculum, with most teachers from Britain and the U.S.

Overseas Family School
25 F Patterson Road
Singapore 238515
Tel: (65) 738-0211
Fax: (65) 733-8825
Home Page:

International Community School is a member of the Network of International Christian Schools and uses an American curriculum modified to fit the needs of the international student body. It has accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Association of Christian Schools, International.

International Community School, Singapore
#3 Mount Faber Road
Singapore 099196
Tel: (65) 270-3387
Fax: (65) 270-3370
Home page:

The United World College of South East Asia is an international day and boarding school offering a British curriculum for students in grades K-12.

United World College of South East Asia
P.O. Box 15
Pasir Panjang
Singapore 91121
Tel: (65) 775-5344
Fax: (65) 778-5846

Dover Court Preparatory School is an international preparatory school offering a British curriculum for children (ages 4-13). Classrooms are large, light, and well equipped. The buildings are set in 12 acres of parkland, and the school has ample playing areas. The Center for Special Education at Dover Court offers a multifaceted comprehensive program for children with special needs from 3 to 18 years of age. It provides an educational context in which pupils of all abilities are able to flourish in various ways and to a degree that might otherwise not be possible.

Dover Court Preparatory School
Dover Court, Dover Road
Singapore 139644
Tel: (65) 775-7664, & (65) 775-7665
Fax: (65) 777-4165

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:17 AM

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has a noncredit, evening lecture series on a variety of subjects. The Vocational Institute Training Board offers a variety of practical courses such as boat handling, interior decorating, Japanese flower arranging, silkscreen printing, photography, and woodworking. Courses are open to Americans upon application. The YWCA offers yoga, painting, mahjong, and courses in Chinese cooking, etc. The American Women's Association, the Pan Pacific South East Asian Women's Association, the Chinese Women's Association, and other groups offer similar programs.

Language-study programs are available. The Alliance Francaise offers a complete range of courses in French. Both the NUS and the VITB teach several languages in evening classes. NUS offers full-time Mandarin instruction. A commercial language center features up-to-date language equipment.

College Opportunities. In addition to the local universities, there are opportunities for American-type college curriculum:
American College in Singapore
25 Paterson Rd.
Singapore 188535
Tel: (65) 233-4566
Fax: (65) 337-7068

University of Maryland Asian Division, Singapore
Sembawang-Logistics Group Western Pacific

Overseas Family School-California State University-Dominguez Hills
25 F Paterson Road
Singapore 238515
Tel: (65) 738-0211
Fax: (65) 733-8825
Home Page:

American students cannot enroll in Singapore University degree programs.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:27 AM

Although sports activities occur within private clubs, some of which are specialized, you can learn or participate in most sports in Singapore.

Lessons in golf, bowling, tennis, squash, rugby, soccer, softball, swimming, sailing, horseback riding, scuba diving, judo, aerobics, yoga, and ice-skating are among those available. Boating is popular; sailboats and motorboats are available as well as water skiing and scuba diving. Scuba-diving lessons for beginners average S$500 for a 1-week course to receive your basic PADI certification, which includes intense pool and classroom sessions. Most equipment is available but costs more here than in the U.S. Tanks may be filled for a reasonable cost, and shops that you patronize may allow you to leave your tank with them.

Singapore's few beaches are very poor. The best beaches are on the islands off Malaysia or a 11/2 to 3-hour drive away on the Malaysian East Coast. Singapore has several yacht clubs: the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, the Singapore Sailing Club at Changi, and the Singapore Armed Forces Yacht Club. Most clubs offer daily and monthly charter of dinghies and motorboats for a nominal fee. The Singapore Swimming Club has a large saltwater pool. The membership fee is S$3,000, plus S$100 refundable deposit and a S$25 monthly fee.

The American Club is noted for its lanes and sponsors a bowling league. The club has a pool-small for children-and tennis, squash, and racquetball facilities. The entrance fee is S$3,000, plus a S$500 refundable deposit. Monthly dues are S$180 for families, plus S$2 for each child 12-21. The minimum expenditure must be at least S$180 over a month period.
The Singapore Tennis Center compares with U.S. tennis centers and has nine outdoor courts and three indoor courts. It is open to the public for hourly and seasonal rental.

Golf is popular. The Singapore Island Country Club has four excellent courses at two separate locations, but it is expensive, and the waiting period is several years. Other golf clubs, which have less expensive, nine-hole courses and shorter waiting periods for membership, are the Warren, Changi, Seletar, Keppel, Sembawang, Jurong, and Tengah. Non-members may play on weekdays by paying a greens fee.

The Singapore Sports Council operates several swimming pools, 12 squash courts, more than 30 tennis courts, and a 7-hole golf course. All are open to the public for a nominal fee. The YMCA and YWCA offer tennis, squash, martial arts such as karate and Tae Kwon Do, yoga, and other sports and recreational activities for a nominal charge.
Malaysia is no longer a good hunting country, and game conservation efforts are being made. Wild pig is the only game bagged, despite some press reports of tigers and rogue elephants being hunted successfully. Importation and licensing of firearms is strictly controlled, and obtaining a permit for possession involves considerable delay. See also: Firearms and Ammunition.

Some surf fishing is done off the Malaysian coast. Taman Negara National Park, north of Kuala Lumpur, is well stocked for stream and river fishing. The park is accessible only by river. Although heat and intense sun discourage hiking and cross-country running, clubs meet in the evenings. Jungle hiking is pleasant in Malaysia's cool hill country. Strive for regular exercise, as those who do seem less prone to illness. Sports clothes and equipment compare to those in the U.S. Most items are available locally. However, swimwear in larger sizes is hard to find.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:26 AM

Singapore is famous for its Botanical Gardens, where the first rubber saplings of Southeast Asia were brought from South America and planted. Today, thousands of exotic tropical plants flourish, including rare orchid hybrids. Black swans float in a tranquil lake. The beautiful park merits a Sunday afternoon stroll.

The Mandai Orchid Gardens contain thousands of colorful hybrids, but commercial shipments often strip these gardens of their flowers. Since the area is small and well organized, a visit could be combined with a trip to the zoo and the Night Safari.

Jurong Bird Park, with the world's largest and most colorful aviary, is inhabited by thousands of birds, including dozens of rare species. Electric tramcars take visitors around to see them all, as well as to see the world's tallest man-made waterfall.

The Singapore Zoological Garden is modern and attractive. Most animals live in a natural park, a promontory with open enclosures similar to their natural habitats. Visitors may take an electric train around the park.

For a change from the main island of Singapore, take the cable car at Mount Faber or the World Trade Center to the island of Sentosa. At 385 feet above sea level, Mount Faber is the perfect spot to watch the sun set and city lights appear. Telescopes provide an excellent view of the harbor, the Southern Islands and on a clear day, the Indonesian Archipelago. The cable car spans the water to Sentosa Island. A monorail encircling the island affords visitors a view of Sentosa's lush greenery. An unspoiled island with a natural forest and quiet village, it features a superb 18-hole golf course on the sea, the world's first coralarium and swimming lagoon (pool), and a picnic area. Also on the island is the Surrender Chamber, a replica of the site of the original surrender of the island of Singapore by the Japanese Occupation Forces to the Allied Forces during World War II. There are a few other attractions and/or memorials to see. Visitors may reach Sentosa by motorcar, cable car or ferryboat from the Harbour Front Center.

Sightseeing opportunities in Singapore include the Esplanade (Theatres on the Bay), Chinatown, Little India, Kranji War Memorial, Singapore River, Chinese and Japanese Gardens, and various temples and mosques. The Asian Civilisations Museum at Empress Place features cultural presentations on loan from around the world. The National University of Singapore has a small but excellent collection of oriental ceramics, which is on long-term loan to the National History Museum. Those interested in stamp collections can visit the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

Americans rely on Malaysia for occasional weekend excursions or more extended trips. The Malaysian macadam two-lane back roads are good, though narrow, and frequent congestion often results in extended delays on the causeway into Malaysia. Government-operated rest houses throughout Malaysia are inexpensive, clean, and comfortable. Dining facilities provide Chinese, Indian, and Malay food, as well as simple Western dishes.

The Safari Park, north of Singapore in Johor State, Malaysia, features wild animals roaming freely in an enclosed area. Visitors drive through the park in cars to observe the animals in their natural habitat. Roads on Malaysia's East Coast up to the northern border are passable during the dry season. During the November to February rainy season, however, travelers must allow for flooded road conditions. A few streams and rivers still have unreliable ferry systems, but modern bridges are under construction. A bridge connecting the island of Penang to West Malaysia is now open to traffic.

Entertainment Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:28 AM

Several air-conditioned, first-run theaters show most recent American, British, and Chinese films. A local impresario shows high-quality but less-popular art films at the Goethe Institute, Penang Road. Some private clubs and film societies offer members a wide spectrum of classic popular films. A number of commercial DVD and VCD rental shops exist, but videotapes are increasingly difficult to find. All films and videos are censored.

The Government-sponsored Singapore Symphony Orchestra made its debut in early 1979 and features both guest conductors and soloists. Instrumental and choral groups and solo musicians also give public recitals, some of them at the Music for Everyone series sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. Popular artists and groups frequently appear at various hotels and in large outdoor concerts. Asian music, such as the traditional Malay "kronchong" (orchestra) performance, is performed as well. Those who wish to participate in musical activities have many opportunities to do so.

Many capable amateur groups occasionally present plays; they welcome community participation. Impresarios bring in one-person shows or small theater troupes. Dinner theater is common here. Traditional Chinese opera and Indian and Malay dances are popular in Singapore.

The Singapore National Library, considered one of the best in the area, contains over 400,000 English-language books and fewer volumes in the other official languages. The National University of Singapore has an extensive library facility, which may be used with permission granted on individual application. The city has several specialized libraries, and the Tanglin and American Clubs maintain small libraries for members' use.

Singapore has many well-stocked bookstores. A good selection of both American and British paperbacks is available at prices considerably higher than those in the U.S. Selection is good at Singapore's many record and tape stores, but new releases are not always available.

Dining out is a pleasure. Restaurants in Singapore offer every type of cuisine. Asian food is available inexpensively, at local hawkers stalls, which are clean and safe. Many American fast-food chains are represented. The city's dozens of luxurious restaurants have prices similar to, or slightly less than, those in comparable U.S. restaurants.

Social Activities Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:34 AM

Singapore's social life is diverse and multi-faceted. In addition to social facilities at apartment buildings, some staff seek membership in clubs, but for most Embassy personnel, their high costs are prohibitive.

Among Americans Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:33 AM
The American Club, with special Embassy rates, has a good bar and restaurant, and offers many children's activities—including junior bowling leagues and periodic movies.

Opportunities abound to devote time to charity. Many institutions for orphans and handicapped welcome volunteers.

The American Association coordinates activities of other American groups. Its work includes organizing various social functions and publishing the monthly community newspaper and the book, Living in Singapore.

The Singapore American Community Action Council (SACAC), created in 1973, works with the American schools to promote a healthy home environment by providing counseling and by sponsoring activities for singles, families, and young people.

The American Women's Association (AWA) is a large and active organization. Monthly meetings at the American Club feature a speaker. The AWA sponsors many trips, courses, and other activities. AWA's community service provides outreach opportunities for volunteers.

The American Chamber of Commerce, a large group of resident Americans representing most U.S. companies in Singapore, discusses matters through specialized committees. This organization provides briefings to the Ambassador and other Mission officers.


International Contacts Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:33 AM
Singapore offers an interesting and varied social life; an individual's work and personal wishes determine the degree of involvement. Singaporeans are friendly and sociable, although unpredictable in responding to formal invitations. Opportunities to meet members of the large and growing multinational business community are numerous. The diplomatic community is active and friendly. Social and business contacts are easy to establish and maintain.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

Most entertaining, both official and private, centers on restaurant luncheons, cocktails, and cocktail-buffets. Many formal and informal dinners are held both in the home and at social clubs. Informal dinners often feature local cuisine. Some entertaining takes place in restaurants and hotels. Numerous hotel, club and independent caterers are moderately priced and reliable, making home entertainment enjoyable.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM

Embassy personnel find calling cards useful for professional and social purposes. (Singaporeans frequently expect to exchange cards upon first introduction.) Local printing of calling cards and invitations is inexpensive and of average quality. Local printing is acceptable and advised.

Special Information Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:20 AM

Post Orientation Program

The Community Liaison Office (CLO) provides a comprehensive orientation program for newly assigned employees. At post, a sponsoring individual or family is assigned to new personnel. Those assigned to Singapore receive informative letters of welcome and a copy of Living in Singapore, a book published by the American Association that provides much of the basic information needed by newcomers. The welcome telegram informs all employees before arrival of any regulations governing shipments of household effects, airfreight, pets, and vehicles. The General Services Office (GSO) also provides information on quarters to be occupied.

All employees are met at the airport. Post policy is to accommodate new arrivals in their permanent quarters upon arrival, when possible. A Welcome Kit contains items needed for moving into permanent quarters until airfreight arrives. The CLO coordinator or sponsor introduces newcomers to members of the American and national employee staff and provides a Welcome Packet and tour of the Embassy. The Administrative Section staff briefs all employees. Spouses are encouraged to attend these briefings that address local security conditions, medical facilities, housing, travel vouchers, allowances, and household effects/airfreight shipments. Section heads are accorded an in-depth briefing by other agency or section chiefs, if desired. Periodic orientation briefings for all newly assigned employees and their adult family members consist of short informal talks by the Ambassador and/or the DCM, the regional security officer, and other sections represented in the Mission. Sponsors and other Mission members are willing to assist in shopping tours, general orientation of Singapore, the bus and MRT (subway) services, etc.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 3/30/2005 2:50 AM

U.S. passport holders do not need to obtain a visa prior to their arrival in Singapore. American travelers are required to complete a Disembarkation/Embarkation Card (D/E card), which is usually issued on the airplane or can be obtained from the immigration counter upon arrival. The Immigration Officer will issue a social visit pass up to 90 days on your D/E card and the passport. You must ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months. The same procedures apply to family members.

Singapore is about halfway around the world from Washington, DC. The Fly America Act requires employees to use US-carriers for trips to and from the United States. United and Northwest Airlines both have daily flights from the U.S. to Singapore via Hong Dong or Tokyo.

Warning: The death penalty may be imposed on any traveler importing narcotics and other dangerous drugs into Singapore.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 3/30/2005 2:50 AM

Embassy officers on the diplomatic list are exempt from all duties. Other employees (A&T Staff) are exempt from customs duties on household effects sent via international transport for up to 6 months from date of arrival, excluding liquor and tobacco. All officers must contact the Embassy for specific instructions before a vehicle can be imported. See the "Transportation" section for further details on importing vehicles.

Any amount of travelers checks, bank drafts, or U.S. currency can be brought into Singapore. Similarly, there is no limitation on Singapore currency.

A visa is not necessary for initial entry into Singapore. A Social Visit Pass, which is valid for 2 weeks (or 1 month on request), will be issued at the airport. After arrival, the Embassy will submit passports to the Foreign Ministry to obtain the required visas for residence. Resident visas can be requested for the duration of the tour of Mission members.

Pets Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:58 AM

Transportation and Clearance for Pets

Singapore law requires that pets be quarantined for a period not less than 30 days. There are absolutely no exceptions to this regulation. Since there is only one quarantine station in Singapore, post advises employees to make all the necessary arrangements 3 months in advance to ensure a place.

All cost related to transportation, import license, quarantine and clearance of pets are the responsibility of the employee. Approximate local fees required to import, process and quarantine a pet in a room with a fan are S$ 1200 – S$ 1400. Employees should contact one of the following companies directly for arrangements and a quotation.

Animal World Express Pte Ltd
160 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh


Singapore 310160

Tel: (65) 6259-2229 Fax: (65) 6353-2894

Email: or (Mr. Bernard Liew)


Pet Movers (s) Pte Ltd
4 Pasir Ris Farmway 2, Singapore 519318 to

61 Pasir Ris Farmway 3, Singapore 518232

Tel: (65) 6581-3688 (24 Hrs) Fax: (65) 6581-3735

Email: (Mr. Sam Lee)


The Pet Hotel
20, Pasir Ris Farmway 2

Singapore 519317

Tel: (65) 582-222 Fax: (65) 583-4986

Email: (Mr. K.C. Tan)

Further information can also be found on the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) website at .

The companies will ask you to provide the name of the pet, sex, age, breed, color, and whether the animal is spayed or neutered. Please also let Post know if pets are arriving together with you or traveling separately.

Arrival: Plan your pet’s arrival on a weekday. Pets arriving on Sundays or public holidays will not be transferred to the quarantine station until the next working day, but rather will be held at the airport.

Rabies vaccination: Rabies vaccination is compulsory upon arrival irrespective of current vaccination status, although other countries through which the pet transits may require it.

Quarantine facilities are modern and adequate. Pet owners may visit their animals at the Animal Quarantine Station, 53 Jalan Buroh, from 4-6 pm, Monday through Friday, and

2-6 pm on Saturday. The station is closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Food & Treats

Pet supplies are found in supermarkets, pet stores, and veterinary offices. Special dietary foods are available, as are grooming and boarding facilities.

Veterinary Care

Excellent veterinary care is available locally. The following are just a few of the many veterinary clinics:

Mt Pleasant Animal Hospital – 6250-8333

James Tan Veterinary Centre Pte Ltd – 6253-1122

Toa Payoh Veterinary Surgery – 6254-3326

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 7/29/2005 1:18 AM

Due to stringent host country regulations, the Chief of Mission has determined that employees and family members are prohibited from importing or owning firearms or ammunition.

Forbidden Items: The following items are listed as controlled items and may not be brought into Singapore either as hand-carry or checked baggage without first obtaining approval from the arms and explosives branch: all weapons, handcuffs, collapsible batons/nightsticks, bulletproof vests, explosives, to include ammunition and empty shell casings, toy guns, antique guns, all swords, daggers/bayonets, pepper spray/tear gas spray, cigarette lighters resembling weapons, fireworks, butterfly knife/switchblade knife, stun gun, etc.

Several USG personnel have recently been detained at Changi Airport with empty shell casings in their checked baggage. While eventually released, they endured great inconvenience. Do not let this happen to you. Shell casings are contraband items in Singapore, and all baggage is x-rayed. Read and heed the preceding paragraph.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:50 AM

Singapore's currency is based on the decimal system. The exchange rate is S$1.63=US$1 (March 2005). On arrival, U.S. currency may be converted at the airport. Employees should change a limited amount, as the Embassy cashier offers a slightly better rate of exchange.

The Embassy does not have full-scale disbursing facilities and limits check-cashing for U.S. personnel. Embassy personnel may cash only personal U.S. checks from US$25 (minimum amount) to US$500 per day, up to $S1,500 a week (spouses must have power of attorney to act on behalf of an employee). Travelers checks are available at any bank or at the American Express Representative in the Travel Section of the Embassy. While maintaining their own U.S. personal checking account, most personnel find a local checking account very helpful and convenient for paying local bills.

Singapore uses the metric system of weights and measures.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 3/30/2005 2:53 AM

There is a 4% general sales tax in Singapore. All members of the Mission are exempt from TV and radio licensing fees and are authorized to purchase duty-free gasoline using a special card at approved gas stations. Personnel not on the diplomatic list (A&T Staff) must pay an alien worker tax if they sponsor a domestic worker.

All sales of personal property are governed by Embassy rules, which follow Department policy.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 3/24/2005 2:11 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Baker, Jim. Crossroads: A Popular History of Malaysia and Singapore. Times Books International: Singapore, 1999.

Barber, Noel. Sinister Twilight: The Fall of Singapore. London: Collins, 1968, is a novel depicting social life and scenes of Singapore from the early 1900s to just after W.W.II.

Bloodworth, Dennis. An Eye for the Dragon: Southeast Asia Observed, 1954-1970. London.

Bloodworth, Dennis. The Tiger and the Trojan Horse. Times Books International: Singapore, 1986.

Chen, Peter S.J., editor. Singapore Development Policies and Trends. Oxford University Press: Singapore, 1983.

Clutterbuck, R. Riot and Revolution in Singapore. London: Faber, 1973.

Collis, Maurice. Raffles. New York: J. Day, 1968.

Cunha, Derek. Debating Singapore: Reflective Essays. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1994.

Drysdale, John. Singapore: The Struggle for Success. Times Books International: Singapore, 1984.

George, Cherian. Singapore: The Air-conditioned Nation: Essays on the Politics of Comfort and Control, 1990-2000. Landmark Books, 2000.

Juan, Dr. Chee Son. Dare to Change: Alternative Vision for Singapore. Singapore Democratic Party, 1994.

Kirby, S.W. Singapore; The Chain of Disaster. London: Cassell, 1971.

Lim Chong Yah. Economic Restructuring in Singapore.

The Singapore Economy: The New Directions; Report of the Economics Committee. Ministry of Trade and Industry: Singapore, 1986.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 3/29/2005 10:37 PM

The Government of Singapore has designated the following local public holidays in 2005:


January 1 New Year's Day Friday, December 31*

January 21 Hari Raya Haji Friday, January 21

February 9 & 10 Lunar New Year Wednesday, February 9

Thursday, February 10

March 25 Good Friday Friday, March 25

May 1 Labor Day Monday, May 2

May 22 Vesak Day Monday, May 23

August 9 National Day Tuesday, August 9

November 1 *Deepavali Tuesday, November 1

November 3 *Hari Raya Puasa Thursday, November 3

December 25 Christmas Monday, December 26

*Movable dates which are determined by the position of the moon, in accordance with the Muslim or Hindu calendars. These holidays move through the Gregorian year at the rate of about 8 days per year, making the full cycle in 44 years.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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