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Singapore is a cluster of islands in South-East Asia forming an independent city state known throughout the world for its affluence. A thriving port and commercial centre, the country was named 'Singapura' or 'Lion city' by Sang Nila Utama who named the city he founded after a wild lion he saw in the vicinity, although the animal he believed to be a lion was probably a tiger. Renowned throughout the world for excellent shopping and exotic food, Singapore boasts a tropical rainforest climate, fabulous scenery and spectacular green spaces. Although the city is home to over five million inhabitants, developers have worked hard to develop parks and nature reserves that create a restful haven. The Botanical Gardens, Singapore Zoo and nearby Bukit Timah Nature Reserve are popular tourist destinations along with Jurong Bird Park. Orchard Road is the main place to head for excellent shopping malls while just to the east is the old colonial area rich in history and associated museums.
The city of Singapore specialises in luxurious high-end hotels offering unrivalled service and spectacular views. The most expensive hotels are based around the Marina and Riverside areas and at peak times or during major international events they can often be fully booked. However, attractive discounts can be sourced during off-peak times. Mid-range hotels tend to be based to the west of the Singapore River and are often colonial in style. A new breed of boutique hotel is also becoming more prevalent, particularly around the Chinatown area of the city offering more affordable accommodation.
Singapore is one of the main airports in South Eastern Asia meaning that most visitors arrive by air. However, there are two road links with mainland Malaysia offering road and rail access to the country and some visitors arrive by ferry. There are excellent local transport services by rail, bus and taxi and much of the city is easily accessible on foot.