World heritage site among cities on 'danger' list
THE worst thing that people can say about Singapore is that it's boring.
You can't chew gum, shopping is a national sport, and many Europeans know it best as being a stopover on the Kangaroo route between Sydney and London.
It's also one of only two cities in the world that still retains a patch of primary rainforest right at its heart.
But despite having the world's fourth leading financial centre, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has deemed the small republic in South East Asia a 'hardship post'.
Many of these rankings were made decades ago when there were very difficult economic and political situations at play.
While few would disagree a posting in Freetown, Siera Leone is a difficult one, a number of Eastern European cities have the same ranking.
Some of the embassies or consular offices were opened at a time when the countries economies were in transition.
"There were huge issues with currencies and exchange collapses," said one source.
DFA officials admit privately that the system is a "relic".
One of the hardship posts is Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, which is the 2011 European City of Culture.
The old part of the city is a UNESCO world heritage site while 'The New York Times' previously described Estonia as "a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea".
However, a number of cities on the hardship list are considered considerably more dangerous and politically unstable.
Freetown in Sierra Leone was host to the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission until the end of 2005 and travellers there are advised to exercise caution and to be aware that public demonstrations can quickly turn violent.
Meanwhile Irish citizens are "advised to avoid non-essential travel to Iran", particularly to regions bordering Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Pretoria in South Africa has a lower crime rate than Johannesburg, but it is still considered a significantly more dangerous city than any in Europe.