The Singapore Cultural Analysis Cultural Studies Essay

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Singapore is a small island in southeast Asia Known for its trade and tourism. It is a small island with not much history but has a strong economy, stable government and a vibrant culture.

II. Brief discussion of the country’s relevant history

Singapore was a British colony for nearly 150 years merged with the Malay territory. In 1965 it gained independence from the British and was separated from Malaysia to from a new country called Singapore the name derived from singa-pura which means city of the lion. . (, n.d)

III. Geographical setting

Situated in Southeast Asia, Singapore is a small island with a total area 647.5 square kilometers, with land being 637.5 and water 10 square kilometers including the main island and around 60 islets and the coastline extends to 193 kilometers. Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei are the bordering countries to Singapore. It is the focal point in the Southeast Asian sea routes.


Singapore is located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia in between Malaysia and Indonesia. 1 22 N, 103 48E is the geographical location of Singapore.


Singapore experiences tropical climate with high humidity and rainfall. There are no specific rainy and dry seasons but during the northeast monsoon (dec-mar) it receives abundant rainfall and during the southwestern monsoon (jun-sep) it is the driest comparatively.


Singapore Island is mostly low-lying, green, undulating country with a small range of hills at the center. The highest point is Bukit Timah which is 166 meters and the lowest point is the Singapore strait which is 0 meters. There are sections of rainforest in the center and large mangrove swamps along the coast, which has many inlets, particularly in the north and west. Singapore’s harbor is wide, deep, and well protected(Singapore overview , 2007).

IV. Social institutions


1.The nuclear family

The general family trend in Singapore is a nuclear family which is the parents and the unmarried children living under the same roof. About 85% of Singaporean families are nuclear families. . (, n.d)

2.The extended family

Close links are maintained between the relatives from both the mothers and fathers side. There is a positive amount of interaction between the extended family with them getting together during festivals and celebrations. . (, n.d)

3.Dynamics of the family

a. Parental roles

The parental roles that is the duties and responsibilities of a parent towards their children are shared equally by the mother and the father.

b. Marriage and courtship

Monogamy or having only one wife is the general rule in Singapore but Polygamy or having more than one wife at the same time is allowed among Muslim Malay. The divorce rate in Singapore is seemingly increasing but Interethnic marriages still are had to come by. The average age at first marriage has increased, and it is customary for young people to live with their parents until they marry. . (, n.d)

4.Female/male roles (changing or static?)

The male and female roles are changing with 80% male employment and 50% female employment. Women are being given more importance in society through the time but there still lacks female involvement in the managerial or high level roles. (, n.d)


Singapore has a very high literacy rate with a strong education system. The education system is based on six years of primary school, four years of secondary school and later vocational school or university, depending on the grades and student prefferences. The best schools are very demanding with the competition being high and fierce. (, n.d).Singapore one of the most prominent education hubs in Asia with high levels of education standards attracting students from all over the world with some of the best universities and institutions in the world.

1.The role of education in society

Education plays a very prominent role in society were children are thought to hold the key not only to their own future but also to the future of their families. The average age at which children start school is six. (, n.d). Due to the increasing competition for jobs and personal improvement in Singapore there is high emphasis given to good education and nurturing and promoting the various talents of the students.

a. Primary education

Primary education is a total of six years which consists of a four year foundation stage from Primary 1 to 4 and a two year orientation stage from Primary 5 to 6. The overall aim of primary education is to give students a good grasp of English language, Mother Tongue and Mathematics. There is no fee for primary school but there are some miscellaneous expenses which add up to SGD $11/ month. During primary school the students are encouraged to participate in Co-Curricular Activities and Community Involvement Programs to develop early skills. At the end of primary school the students have to take a national level examination called the Primary school leaving examination (Ministry of education, 2012).

b. Secondary education

Secondary education consists of four to five years of school in which the students are placed in Special, Express, Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) course according to how they perform at the Primary school leaving examination. The different curricular emphases are designed to match their learning abilities and interests. The fees for secondary school varies from $5/ month for public schools, $3-$18 for autonomous schools and $200-$300 for independent schools. For graduating from secondary school the students have to attend a national examination called GCE ‘O’ Levels(for Special/Express courses) or GCE ‘N’ Levels (for Normal course).All students take part in at least one Co-curricular activity; CCA performance is considered for admission to JCs, CI, polytechnics and ITE(Ministry of education, 2012)

c. Higher education

Singapore has some of the best universities offering various programs. The National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Technology and Design are some of the most reputed universities in Singapore. These universities have a worldwide reach and attract thousands of students each year.

There are universities from all over the world also who offer their programs in Singapore either by collaborating with Singaporean institutions like university of Whales and university of Bradford who offer their programs through Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) or by setting up a sister campus in Singapore like INSED which is one of the world’s premier business school from France and James Cook university an Australian university have sister campuses in Singapore.

2. Literacy rates

Singapore has a high literacy rate due to the emphasis given to education. The % of people above the age of 15 who can read and write is

total population: 92.5% 

male: 96.6% 

female: 88.6% (2000 census) (Singapore-counrty profile ,2012)

C. Political system

Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system. As a former British colony, Singapore since independence in 1965 has adopted the Westminster Module. The head of state is the president, who is elected for a fixed term of six years. The parliament is elected in a general compulsory election every five years. There are also six nominated members of the parliament. The cabinet is the executive organ of the state, and execution of government policies is carried out by ministries and statutory boards. . (, n.d)

1.Political structure:

Singapores government is segrigated into three segments.

-Executive- This includes the presedent who is the head-of-state abd the cabinet which is lead by the prime minister.( , 2011)

-Legislative- The Legislative branch is the Parliament, which is elected by general election every five years. The first sitting of Parliament was held on 8 December 1965. The first general election for Parliament was held on 13 April 1968. There are 22 registered political parties.

.( , 2001)

-Judiciary- The Supreme Court and its Subordinate Courts make up the judiciary. The Judiciary administers the law independently of the Executive and this independence is safeguarded by the Constitution.( , 2011)

2.Political parties-

There are 22 political parties in singapore and are as follows:

Singapore Chinese Party

Persatuan Melayu Singapura

Partai Rakyat, Singapore State Division

Angkatan Islam

The Workers’ Party

Pertubohan Kebangsaan Melayu Singapura

People’s Action Party (PAP)

United People’s Party

Barisan Socialis (BS), Socialist Front (SF)

Parti Kesatuan Ra’ayat (United Democratic Party)

Singapore Indian Congress

Alliance Party Singapura

United National Front

National Party of Singapore

The People’s Front

Justice Party, Singapore

Democratic Progressive Party

People’s Republican Party

United People’s Front

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

National Solidarity Party (NSP)

Singapore National Front.

( , 2007)

3.Stability of government

The Singapore government is very stable. There has never been a political imbalance and the government has never been dissolved.

4.Special taxes

5.Role of local government

Since singapore is such a small country it does not have divisions in local government and is ruled by divisions of the central government instead. In 1996 the then primeminister of singapore Goh introdused a system of community devolopment councils (CDC’s). In november 2001 the number of CDC’s redused from 9 to 5 consisting of South West, North West, Central Singapore, South East, and North East. They are managed by a council comprising a mayor and between 12 and 80 council members. ( , 2007)

D. Legal system

The legal system of Singapore is designed on the bases of British law. . ( , 2007)

1.Organization of the judiciary system.

The judicial system consistes of the supreme court which is the higest level headed by the chief justice who is appointed by the president on the recommendation of the primeminister.It divided into the high court the Court of Appeal, and the Court of Criminal Appeal. This id followed by the subbordinate courts which are magistrates’ courts, trying civil and criminal offenses, the disrtict court, the juvenile courts, for offenders below the age of sixteen and the coroners’ courts; and the small claims courts, which hear civil and commercial claims for sums of less than S$10,000. . ( , 2007)

2.Code, common, socialist, or Islamic-law country?

3.Participation in patents, trademarks, and other conventions

4. Marketing Laws

E. Social organizations

1.Group behavior

2.Social classes

3.Clubs, other organizations

4.Race, ethnicity, and subcultures

Singapore is predominantly Chinese with 77% of the population being Chinese according to the 2002 census. It also mentioned that Malays consist of 14% of the population and Indians consist of 8% of the population. The rest 1.4% of the population consisted of various other ethnic groups.( , 2007)

F.Business customs and practices

V. Religion and aesthetics

A.Religion and other belief systems

There is freedom of religion with some exceptions. Singapore has been described as one of the most religious countries in the world. The major religions are Islam (Malay), Hinduism (Indians), Buddhism, Taoism, and folk religion (Chinese), along with a substantial number of Christians of various denominations.

1. Orthodox doctrines and structures

There are many Chinese and Indian temples, Malay mosques, and Christian churches in the main public arenas for religious activities. Much religious activity is also carried out in the home. There are different “street festivals” according to the ritual calendars of the different ethnic groups. . (, n.d)

2. Relationship with the people

Even with the vast difference in religious beliefs the people of Singapore live in peace with each other maintaining good relationships with people from all religious backgrounds.

3. Which religions are prominent?

The Chinese religions of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism are the most prominent with 51%

4. Membership of each religion

The Chinese with Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism take up most of the population with 51%.

About 15% of the population is Islamic

About 15% of the population is Hindu

And the rest of the population are from various other religions such as Christianity, Jewish, Jain and Sikh

( , 2007)


1.Visual arts (fine arts, plastics, graphics, public art, colors, etc.)

2.Drama, ballet, and other performing arts

Today in Singapore people who go to theatres enjoy traditional ethnic theatre such as Chinese opera and Malay bangsawan (which took root in Singapore in the 19th and 20th century respectively), as well as contemporary theatre, which emerged in 1950s and 60s with the establishment of mainly amateur groups. English language theatre gained prominence from the 1980s with a change in educational policy which emphasised English to be the main language of instruction. Today with more than 130 theatre companies and societies in Singapore, practicing a range of contemporary and traditional ethnic theatrical forms Singapore has a vibrant performing arts developed through time..(National Arts Council, 2012)

3. Folklore and relevant symbols

Singapore like most Asian countries hos a rich folklore and legends from which symbols are dericed. One such folklore about the symbol of Singapore which is the merlion explains that one day the villager in the southern cost were awakened by howling winds and crashing waves. It was covered with black clouds and was thought the whole island would be engulfed by the sea. The villagers went down on their knees in prayer and suddenly in the sea appeared a gigantic creature half lion and half fish and won the battle against nature and saved the villagers. (10 Legends and Myths of Singapore, 2012)

VI. Living conditions

Singapore has one of the best living conditions in the world attracting people from all over the world to live, work and study there.

A.Diet and nutrition

1.Meat and vegetable consumption rates

Singapore has high meat and vegitable consumption rates. With the variety if foods available in singapore the main components in every day meals are Rice, fish, chicken, and vegetables.

2.Typical meals

There are 3 main meals breakfast lunch and dinner and Rice, fish, chicken, and vegetables are the staples. The main ingredients are mixed with spices, coconut, lime, chili etc create numerous varieties of dishes. Each ethnic culture has its own special dishes. (, n.d)

3.Malnutrition rates

Singapore has a low malnutrition rate with childern below the age of 5 having only 2.2% malnutrition rate.( Health Statistics > Malnutrition prevalence, height for age > % of children under 5 (most recent) by country, n.d)

4.Foods available

Due to the vast culture and ethnicity Singapore has a variety of dishes from Chinese cuisines, Indian cuisines, Malay cuisines and with the influence of western culture have a large variety of wesrten cuisines available. Singapore is the food hub of Asia and because of the availability of such vast cuisines is an attraction to people from all over the world.


A vast majority of population live in public housing which is publicly developed managed by the Housing and Development Board. About 80% of the population live in public housing which are like small town ship with schools, markets and health centers. The rest of the population live in privately developed houses and appartments which are slightly more expensive than public housing. (Housing in Singapore, n.d)

1.Types of housing available

There is public housing which includes three-room, four-room, five-room and executive flats. A three-room flat has two bedrooms , which is about 1,000 sq ft. A four-room flat has three bedrooms which is about 1,200 sq ft of space. A five-room flat is about 1,400 sq ft. An Executive mansionette has three and they are relatively larger than any other public housing units- some even have double storey, with the rooms on the second level.

The rest of the population live in private housing which include privately maintained apartments, condominiums and landed properties.(Housing in Singapore, n.d)

2.Do most people own or rent?

80% of the population live in public housing the most part of this own their own houses.

3.Do most people live in one-family dwellings or with other families?

Most people do live in one- family dwellings and not with other families as 85% of the population believe in nuclear families.


Singapore is the fasion capital of Asia and one of the mian attraction to sinsapore is the variety of clothing availablt there. It has clothing from the best designers from all over the world and orchad street in singapore is a 5 kilimeter streach of shopping on both sides. Singapore without saying goes hand in hand with fasion and shopping.

1.National dress

Singapore because of its vast culture and ethnicity does not have a natioal dress but each culture has its own traditional dresses wich are-

The Peranakan- who are the mixed race of chinese and malay- The Nyonya Kebaya is the traditional dress

The chinese- Cheongsam is the traditional dress for the women.

The Indians- Sari is the traditional dress for women and Dothi Kurtha is the traditional dress for men.

The Malay- The Baju Kurungis the traditional dress for women and The Baju Melayu is the traditional dress for men.

(Deliatoh, 2011)

2. Types of clothing worn at work

The normal clothing worn to work consists of trousers, long-sleeved shirts and ties for men

and blouses, skirts or trousers for women. Because of the weather being hot and humid jackets are usually not required. Although Singapore is a liberal country, women should make sure they do not wear clothes that are too revealing. (Communicaid, 2009)

D.Recreation, sports, and other leisure activities

Recreation and leasiure activities play an important role in the busy lives of Singaporeans. Different groups are interested in different activities such as sports, adventure and water sports as Singapore has beautiful beaches or even shopping, parties and gambling.

1.Types available and in demand

There are various ways singaporieans spend their time away from busy sceduels. The most popular are Motor racing, football, swimming, paragliding, scoobadiving, boatimg, gambling, sailing, surfing, camping, trecking, cycling and horse racing. (Adventure and Rcreation in Singapore, n.d)

2.Percentage of income spent on such activities

E. Social security

In Singapore instead of of a national social security there is Central Provident Fund. The Central provident fund is a compulsory savings scheme that was introduced in 1955 to help cover the cost of living for Singapore residents upon retirement / termination of employment. (, n.d)

Money that is saved in the Ordinary Account of the CPF can be used to help pay for home ownership, education and investment. The Special Account is meant for old age and contingency purposes and to purchase retirement-related financial products. A portion of the CPF known as Medisave can also be used to help pay for hospital treatment and for medical insurance (known as MediShield). (, n.d)

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Every Singaporean and Singaporean Permanent resident should contribute to the CPF. Foreigners who are on a Work Pass are not required to contribute to CPF. However, when a foreigner takes up permanent residency in Singapore, the foreigner will be expected to contribute to the CPF scheme. Both the employer and the employee contribute to this fund in varying proportions. (, n.d)

F.Health care

The Singapore healthcare system comprises public and private healthcare, complemented by rising standards of living, housing, education, medical services, safe water supply and sanitation, and preventive medicine.Over the years, Ministry Of Health has followed the principle of ensuring that good and affordable basic medical services are available to all Singaporeans. MOH has been continuously fine-tuning the health care system to ensure that Singapore has developed its healthcare system into one that has received praise and recognition both locally and internationally.(Ministry of Health, 2012)

VII. Language

Singapore with its variety of cultures is a multilingual country. Its national language is Malay. English is the administrative language and the medium of instructions in school and the students choose one of their mother tongues either Malay Tamil or Chinese. (, n.d)

A.Official language(s)

The official languages of Singapore are Malay, english, Tami and chinese(Manadarin) (, n.d)

B.Spoken versus written languages

C. Dialects

[insert text here]

IX. Sources of information (1999) Singapore geography, retrieved from

-Ministry of education(2012) Singapore: education system. Retrieved from Culture of Singapore-Countries and Their Cultures retrieved from

– (2007) Singapore overview, retrieved from

– Singapore- Country Profine (2012) retrieved from

– Who We Are , retrieved from

– National arts council (2012) arts forms, retrieved from

-10 Legends and Myths of Singapore (2012) retrieved from

– Health Statistics > Malnutrition prevalence, height for age > % of children under 5 (most recent) by country (n.d) retrived from

-Housing in Singapore (n.d) retrieved from

-Deliatoh (2011) The Traditional costumes of Singapore retrieved from

-Communicaid (2009) Doing business in Singapore retrieved from (n.d) Adventure and Recreation in Singapore retrieved from Singapore-Social Security Retrieved from

-Ministry of Health (2012) our health care system retrieved from


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