Singapore: Language, People & Religion                 

Although geography has played a part in the success of Singapore, its mainstay is its people. Lacking natural resources, Singapore's strength is its hardworking, adaptable and resilient population.

The original inhabitants were Malay fishermen (photo), but after the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles and the establishment of a British trading post, Singapore became a magnet for migrants and merchants. Seeking a better life for themselves and their families, they came from the southern provinces of China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and the Middle East. 

Though inter-marriages have taken place over the years, each racial group within Singapore has retained its own cultural identity while developing as an integral part of Singapore community.

Singapore's population comprises of the following ethnicities:

Chinese                                 74.2%

Malay                                    13.3%

Indian                                    9.2%

Other                                     3.3%

Due to the multicultural population, there are many languages spoken in Singapore:

Mandarin (official)                  36.3%

English (official)                     29.8%

Malay (official)                       11.9%

Hokkien                                 8.1%

Tamil (official)                        4.4%

Cantonese                              4.1%

Teochew                                3.2%

Other Indian languages           1.2%

Other Chinese dialects             1.1%

Other                                     1.1%  


English is the language of business and administration, and is widely spoken and understood. Most Singaporeans are bilingual, and speak their mother tongue as well as English. Malay is the local national language.


With its ethnic mix also comes its diverse set of religions. Singapore's skyline boasts the distinctive minarets of mosques, spires of gothic cathedrals, intricate figurines of Hindu temple gods and distinctive roof architecture of Chinese temples.

Religion in Singapore: 

Buddhist                            33.9%

Muslim                              14.3%

Taoist                                11.3%

Catholic                              7.1%

Hindu                                 5.2%

Other Christian                    11%

Other                                 0.7%

None                                  16.4%


Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery is a Chinese temple in Singapore.