Nine Cultural Features of Singapore by the Natives

Many people’s first impression of Singapore is a fine, a fine for smoking in public places, a fine for throwing wastes, a fine for not flushing public toilets, which can be a heavy penalty of thousands of SGD, but also be prosecuted. Another is the world famous caning, as is now few countries use this torture, but Singapore has not abandoned, many prisoners have tasted the caning, it is said that the agony will leave a permanent scar, really terrible.

As a tourist, of course, we won’t break the law, so don’t worry. But it is well worth to learn about the cultural characteristics of Singapore, let us together read it!


1. Multi-ethnic, multi-cultural

Singapore is an immigrant country; ethnic groups are mainly composed of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and European Asian, so there are rich cultural diversities and a variety of religious believes, and which are fully respected and have a good development. We can find that from Singapore national holiday, such as the Chinese lunar New Year, Christian Christmas day and Good Friday, the Vesak Day of Buddhism and Islam Lasser Bairam and Singapore National Day, all of which are ruled to be statutory holidays.

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2. Singaporean English

Singlish is spoken in Singapore, mainly affected by British English, but recently the affection of American English has become more and more big. A lot of vocabulary and grammar are from Fujian Dialect, Mandarin and Malay, which has a characteristic of Creole, and pronunciation has their own characteristics. Simple to say, Singapore English consist of English words, mixed grammar, Chinese tone and intonation as the main body. Note that Singlish is not the official language in Singapore and they use British English in formal occasions.

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3. The fast pace of life

Singapore is the world’s fourth largest international financial center and also one of the important services and shipping centers in Asia. The same as all the big cities, the local people’s life race is very fast, which can be reflected from various aspects, such as the pedestrians in a hurry on the road, the fast Singlish, the clerk having three meals at the food court, even abbreviations which is created also to a faster pace.

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4. “kiasu” character

“Kiasu” from Hokkien, have a meaning of afraid of losing. It also refers to the behavior of loving to take some petty gain because of being afraid of losing. Later other ethnic groups in Singapore also grasp the essence of the “Kiasu”, so it is carried forward and become popular on the island, even extending to a noun, a adjectives, a verb, and even an interjection, which has become a personality feature of Singaporean. For example, “Kiasu” parents refer to those who let the children go to cram school in order to improve the child’s academic performance. It is the same for Chinese all over the world.

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5. Hawker Centre

Hawker Centre, also known as food court, the locals call it Hawker Centre, which are ubiquitous in Singapore. There are more than 100 centers in the whole nation, with nearly 200 booths each center. There is a lot of food, such as the Or Luak, Chai Tow Kway, etc., which attract many visitors to come. Among the vendors who have amazing cook, the millionaires, the people driving Marseille car and the people hiring waiters is not a small group.


6. Line up everywhere.

In Singapore, people line for food, a price reduction, free staffs, promotion of buying one and getting another one free. Maybe you cannot understand, is it worth so waiting in line for the sake of a small gift? Think about “Kiasu”.


7. I love shopping.

Singaporean has a national interest, it is the shopping. The sales activities held in Singapore in June to July every year is known by the local and even the whole world. Singaporean shuttle between countless stores and line up to a dragon in front of each discounted goods. As long as you see the bustling crowd, you will know how much they love shopping. It is almost the whole people to participate in the activity.

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8. Use acronyms.

Singapore people particularly like using acronyms. Roads, buildings, or government agencies, financial institutions, or the name of the political parties, social organizations, even the dirty words all use abbreviations, so it’s not surprising names use acronyms. You must have certain knowledge of abbreviations to not get lost, such as the MRT – the Mass Rapid Trans, MOE – the ministry of education, the SBS – Singapore bus service, GST – goods and services tax.

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9. Complain even if it is good

Singapore people like to complain, sometimes even a little thing, no matter whether right or not, just complain. Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said: “Singaporean is the king of complaining”. Complaining has become a kind of culture, just like the first thing Singapore people think of is not communication but complaints. But Singaporean generally feel very happy, a survey showed that there was more than 72% of the Singapore people feel happy – this is a strange phenomenon, Can it improve the happiness to complain?

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