Singapore’s strong global profile stems from its history as a premier port city. Its strategic location connecting China with South Africa, and  India with Australia, has helped to make this massive port the world’s second busiest. But the city-state has diversified well beyond shipping to achieve its current status as a world banking center and manufacturing powerhouse.

Tourism, too, has always been an economic driver, fueled in part by the global visibility of Singapore Airlines. Singapore’s legalization of gaming in 2005 was a game changer, fueling more investment in the travel infrastructure and a healthy inventory of varied meeting and convention space.

Today’s Singapore is a modern, efficient, and well-organized destination. Just over five million people inhabit this island nation of less than 300 square miles. Located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore is an ethnic melting pot, with large Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian populations.

Not surprisingly, Singapore recognizes four official languages—English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil—as well as an unofficial one called “Singlish,” or Singaporean slang English. That ethnic mix also becomes apparent in the foods that have put Singapore on the culinary map, with locals waxing poetic on favorites like chili crab, fish-head curry, and chicken fried rice.