What is the Culture of Singapore?

Shutters of a traditional house in Singapore.
Shutters of a traditional house in Singapore.

Singapore has a relatively low population made up of an estimated 5.47 million people. The Asian city-state is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world. The country’s location in South East Asia makes it a melting point for many Asian cultures. Additionally, globalization witnessed in recent years has brought with it western cultures to Singapore. Therefore, there is no universal culture in the country.


Singapore has a rich linguistic diversity, having more than 20 languages that have native speakers. The de jure national language in the country as provided for by the Constitution of Singapore is the Malay language. The Constitution also provides for four official languages in the country which are Tamil, English, Mandarin, and Malay. However, a creole language known as Bazaar Malay was once the country’s lingua franca. English was introduced to the country when Singapore became a British colony and served as the country’s lingua franca over the period of British rule. While Malay is the country’s national language, English is used in the education system as the medium of instruction and is also recognized as the country’s de facto main language. The most popular language in the country is Mandarin which was spoken by over 1.2 million Singaporeans, equivalent to 46.1% of the country’s entire population.


Singapore's cuisine is a reflection of the country’s rich cultural diversity. Each of Singapore’s main cultural groups has a unique cuisine that is in line with their religious and traditional beliefs. Sugarcane juice which is extracted from sugarcane is a popular drink in the country. Ginger tea and milo are the most common beverages consumed in Singapore. Additionally, there has been a proliferation of western cuisines, particularly in the country’s major cities. Many malls and leading hotels in Singapore’s cities serve foreign cuisines such as Japanese, French, and Italian cuisines. There are also several fast food eateries where a wide array of modern fast foods are served.


Singapore is a country with vast religious diversity as no single religion is followed by more than half the country’s population. The world’s major religions including Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism all have followers in Singapore. Buddhism is the most followed religion in the country, with more than 33% of Singaporeans identifying themselves as Buddhists. Other religions with followers in the country include Taoism and Sikhism. Catholics make up the majority of Singapore’s Christians while Sunni Muslims make up the majority of Islam followers in the country. The Singaporean government is notably tolerant of all religions and advocates for religious harmony among all Singaporeans. Nonetheless, two Christian denominations are banned in the country: the Unification Church and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Public Holidays

There are 11 public holidays observed each year in Singapore as indicated in the country’s Holidays Act of 1966. Many of Singapore’s public holidays mark special events of the country’s major religions. Out of the country’s annual 11 public holidays, only National Day and Labor Day are not held to mark religious events. Polling days during general elections are also recognized as public holidays in Singapore.


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