Photo: Raffles Hotel

A Sikh guard stands in front of the Raffles Hotel, opened in 1887 and declared a National Monument a century later.

Photograph by Heimo Aga

Singapore is the great success story of modern Asia. Since gaining its independence from Malaysia in 1965, the tiny city-state has gone from a poor trading port to one of the wealthiest states in the world. And it shows: high-rise condos and skyscrapers dominate the landscape, and shoppers peruse the latest designer goods in a seemingly endless lineup of malls and boutiques along Orchard Road. Once known for its strict fines and uptight demeanor, Singapore is loosening up, transforming into what former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew hopes will soon be, “a tropical version” of New York, Paris, and London all in one.

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