SINGAPORE is home to many Asian communities who have blended harmoniously into society. This diversity has enhanced the state's social, cultural and economic life in various ways. Most of the population is Chinese, but this community is made up of those who have come from different parts of China. There are those who trace their roots to Fujian and speak Hokkien with either a Xiamen or Fuzhou regional accent. The Hakka people are a major component of this rich ethnic mix, although their ancestors could have come from Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi or some other province of China. There are many Chiu Chow people and Hainanese. Malays make up a big minority in the country. The rest of the people are of either South Asian or European descent. Singapore's Indian population includes those who belong to various ethnic and religious backgrounds - Sikhs from the Punjab and Tamils from Madras. All, first and foremost, are Singaporeans. In recent years, a group of people who call themselves the 'invisible minority' has made its presence felt. Long overlooked, the Eurasian population is a fascinating group, whose surnames indicate their ancestry. Names may be Portuguese, Dutch, Scottish or a mixture. The Eurasians have their own association and its chairman has a Portuguese name. He is a fighter pilot in the Singapore Air Force. Other members of the association include bankers with Dutch names and waiters with Scottish forebears. And then there are the Straits Chinese, said by some to be descendants of a Yuan Dynasty princess and her 1,000 hand maidens. The noblewoman was sent to Malacca to marry a Malay prince. The resulting offspring were core of the Straits Chinese. The women were called Nonya, the men Baba. They dress in Malay garb, speak Malay and their own dialects and also have developed a unique cuisine that mixes different flavours and techniques. The diversity of people also means that in Singapore one can hear Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil being spoken. Dialects may be spoken at home, but the use of English as an official language gives Singapore a solid basis as an international business centre, an advantage hard to ignore. To try to bring unity to a Chinese Tower of Babel, where many people could not understand each other, the government insisted that standard Mandarin, Chinese, be taught. Once again, this gives the country a business advantage, as well as the cultural boost that was the original cause of the move. With fluency in English and Mandarin, Singapore bridges many cultural and linguistic chasms. The main religions - Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism - reflect the cultural diversity of the nation. Although the tea houses and temples are still to be seen, Singapore is a modern state. The well-educated young people of Singapore are cosmopolitan and sophisticated in their outlook, while society still clings to varied traditions. It is a combination that works.