THE BIG ACHIEVEMENTS OF A SMALL COUNTRY
Standards of Living
Singapore has been recognised as the best city for living in Asia, taking 26th place in this category globally. However, it would be only fair to point out that Singapore is among the most expensive cities in the world due to its high real estate prices. This year, Singapore rounded off top 10 most expensive cities in the world.
Despite it, the country holds fifth position in the World Rating of Happiness, with Australia in the first place. Owing to its strict laws and well-organised police service, Singapore is the safest city in the world. Any weapon is forbidden in Singapore, and socially-dangerous crimes such as drugs, piracy and terrorism are punishable by death.
«The Old and the New»
Singaporean officials are highly competent and helpful. They are paid high salaries and never take bribes. According to the Corruption Perception Index 2009 (CPI), annually rendered by experts of the international organisation Transparency International, Singapore has taken third place as the least corrupt country in the world after New Zealand and Denmark.
In certain revues, Singapore is named number one for the shopping experience it offers its citizens and tourists alike. An old popular Russian song goes: "Greece has everything possible in the world", but Singapore has even what is missing in Greece. A word to the wise: Olympic endurance is a must for shopping in Singapore, as the number of malls and stores here is overwhelming. Visiting three of them a day is tantamount to a sports feat. But moving between the malls is easy since Singapore's public transport system and roads are best in the world, its taxi service is very efficient.
Trying to attract more tourists, Singapore has been constructing an extensive infrastructure of diverse entertainments in recent years. The island of Sentosa, a huge entertainment zone minutes from downtown, boasts the biggest oceanarium in Asia, a pink dolphin lagoon, holographic laser show and other attractions. The world's biggest observation wheel – the Singapore Flyer – is also in Singapore. The International Living Standards have estimated Singapore's show business to have achieved 71 out of 100 points possible.
Education and the Social Sphere
An amazing fact: Singapore injects as much money into education as Russia does into arms and weapons.
Singaporean education is highly qualitative and affordable, and combines several types – those of Asia, America and Europe – which is very attractive for international students. Singapore's two national universities have been rated highly among the world's high schools, with the National University of Singapore taking 30th, place and Nanyang Technological University 73rd.
Singapore is number three in the world in spheres such as the development of informatics technology, yielding to Denmark and Sweden only. But when it comes to the computerisation of education, Singapore is the global leader, financing it with about half a billion Singapore dollars every year.
Healthcare and Ecology
According to the world rating by the World Organisation of Public Health, Singapore has the best medicine and public healthcare system in Asia. Singaporean medicine combines the achievements of western and eastern traditions at a very high level. Due to these facts, a new tourism direction – medical tourism – has recently been speedily developing in the city-state. The medical areas most popular with international tourists are plastic surgery, weight loss programmes, dentistry, neurosurgery and cardiology.
The Singaporean government pays a lot of attention to its population's health. A well-meaning propaganda and price policy have brought smoking and alcohol consumption to naught. The contraband of cigarettes and alcohol is punishable by 10 years of prison.
Sports enthusiasts can find every facility to their liking in Singapore, from go-cart racing to archery. The efforts made by the government to boost public healthcare have had tangible results: according to the US' CIA statistical report, Singapore has been for some years one of the top five countries in terms of the longest life expectancy. In Singapore, it is equal to 80.42 years, with Andorra coming before it, showing the best at 83.5 years.
The high-tech civilisation of Singapore has destroyed a considerable part of the island's flora and fauna – such is, invariably, the price paid for technical progress. But the government is doing its best to protect indigenous wildlife. For instance, 30 per cent of the island's territory are nature reserves, and the world's biggest orchid park finds its home in Singapore, which also boasts a huge zoo and botanical garden. Only in the city park of Bukit Timah are there more species of trees than in the whole of North America. Various exhibitions are devoted to Singapore's wildlife to educate schoolchildren. Singapore has been reported to have the purest air among the world's largest megapolises.
Singaporeans say that they have everything except for a cupola above the island to keep the chilled conditioned air in. The heavy equatorial climate is perhaps the drawback that keeps pulling Singapore down in terms of ratings of life comfort. At the present stage, an air conditioner over the city might still be a joke but, taking into account the Singaporeans' commitment and diligence, it has a chance of becoming reality soon enough.
They say that Singapore is a country that lives in the future, striving after the best living standards for its citizens and cherry-picking leading scientists and experts around the world to come here to work. Singapore is a country of nanotechnology, biotechnology, electronics and top-notch medicine. The country is definitely worth visiting, at least once.
Text Vitaly Lipik
(Research Fellow at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Paintings (photographic reproductions)