The island anomaly at the bottom of the Malaysian peninsula has generated its share of ink over the years for all sorts of odd reasons. Yes, they do like their rules (chewing gum is, in fact, banned), and yes, it is expensive (and compared to its neighbours, it certainly is). But Singapore is also a fascinating melange of cultures that hovers between authoritarian utopia and Asian chaos. A dot with no natural resources to speak of, Singapore grew on trade, leveraging its ideal spot on the final turn between the Southeast Asian Pacific and India, Africa, and Europe. Founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles out of a fishing village, the island's fusion of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and British colonial elements combine in an immaculate, orderly, and vibrant society.