The Chinatown - Singapore
Home of the largest ethnic group in Singapore
The largest ethnic group in Singapore are Chinese, composing approx. 75% of the population, Chinatown is considerably less of an enclave than it once was. However, the district does retain significant historical and cultural significance. Large sections of it have been declared to national heritage sites officially designated for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
Singapore's Chinatown evolved around 1821 when the first Chinese junk arrived from Xiamen, Fujian province in China. The new settlers worked mainly at the port, as coolies carrying cargo or merchants. There were also letter-writers, fortune tellers, prostitutes and gangsters. In the often rough-and-tumble life of this young city, temples and shophouses were often only a stone's throw away from brothels and opium dens.
Singapore's Chinatown today is a unique mix of old Peranakan-style buildings, cosy tea-houses, traditional medicine and herbal shops, colourful night markets, sleek renovated offices and trendy restaurants and bars.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a living cultural monument in the heart of Chinatown. The architecture, interiors and statuary are inspired by the Tang Dynasty, an era where Buddhism flourished in China in a golden age of artistic and cultural vibrancy. The temple holds the Sacred Buddha Tooth and Relics, as many rare Buddhist artefacts.