20 Most Interesting, Unusual and Funny Facts About Singapore
Singapore is known for many things – innovative architecture, cutting edge skyscrapers, peaceful coexisting multi-cultural citizens, mouth-watering cuisine and, of course being immaculately clean and organised. It might surprise you to learn that Singapore is also known for numerous funny things and the country is filled with interesting and quirky facts. This article will delve into our favourite fun facts about Singapore, just in case you needed yet another reason to fall further in love with the Little Red Dot.
Unusual fact 1: ‘Fine City’.
Singapore is well known for being exceptionally well-regulated, strictly law-enforcing and impeccably clean and hygienic. It is also extremely safe, most likely as a result of the zero tolerance policy for major offenses and Singapore is one of the highest countries in the world for the number of death sentences meted out. While these are usually given to drug dealers and extreme offenders, what most people might not know is the long list of minor offense and other unusual things that can get you a fine, a jail sentence or a warming in Singapore.
There are strict laws on everything from chewing gum, jaywalking, littering, smoking within 15 meters of any covered walkway, not flushing a toilet in a public restroom, bringing durian inside public transport, and even connecting to someone’s Wi-Fi without their permission. Inside elevators in Singapore there is a urine detection device which is able to detect urine odors, sets off an alarm and shuts the doors until the authorities arrive. Lastly, littering in Singapore is taken very seriously and if you are caught littering more than three times, your punishment is to clean the streets on Sundays wearing a shameful bib stating, ‘I am a litterer’.
Unusual fact 2: Interesting currency
Not only is the Singaporean national anthem written in micro-text on the backside of their SGD 1000 note, but the Tembusu Tree that is printed on the SGD 5 bank note is an actual living tree that is still standing tall in the Botanic Gardens. The 200 year old tree is older than the 156 year old garden and is a source of much pride for the country.
Unusual fact 3: Fastest pedestrians in the world
Perhaps as a result of living in such a fast-paced, lively city, Singapore currently holds the title of having the world’s fastest movers or pedestrians scurrying about the streets. In a study conducted by the British Council, observing various cities in the world, Singapore ranked top of the list with an average walking speed of around 6, 15 kilometres per hour!
Unusual fact 4: Singapore consists of 63 islands
An interesting geography fact about the Lion City is that Singapore is made up of 63 tiny islands most of which are uninhabitable. The territory that Singapore is made up of consists of one main island and 62 other islets. Since Singapore gained independence in 1959, it has undergone massive land reclamation by creating new land from oceans, rivers and lakes; and has increased its total size by an impressive 23 per cent. Singapore has even been accused of buying too much sand from Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia which has resulted in a couple of protests and blockades on sand trades.
Another funny thing about Singapore’s independence is that rather than having to fight for it, Singapore was thrown out of Malaysia as a result of democratic voting.
Unusual fact 5: Birthplace of the Singapore Sling
Regarded as Singapore’s national drink, the Singapore Sling was created for the very first time in 1915 at the iconic, colonial-style, luxury hotel Raffles Hotel. Famous throughout the world, this signature drink is a must try for all those visiting Singapore. First invented by bartender, Ngiam Tong Boon, the gin-based cocktail also includes pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine Dom Benedictine, cherry brandy, Cointreau and Angostura bitters.
Unusual fact 6: There is a peanut shell exception to the littering law
As we all know, a key fact about the Singapore culture is strict adherence to the laws. It may come as a surprise then to learn that littering one’s peanut shells onto the floor of the elegant Raffles Hotel is actually encouraged. No one can say for sure where the tradition originated but there are even signs in the swanky establishment urging patron’s to drop them onto the floor where they only get swept up at the end of the day.
Unusual fact 7: The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has been a protected reserve from 1883 and is the last substantial rainforest in Singapore. Not only has the nature reserve been protected from logging and deforestation but it has one of the most diverse ecological systems in the world; in fact it has more tree species than the whole North American continent!
Unusual fact 8: The largest fountain in the world
Listed in the Guinness Book of Records, The Fountain of Wealth, in Singapore’s Suntec City is the biggest fountain in the world. Boasting a circumference of 66 meters, an area of 1683 square meters and a height of almost 14 meters, this fountain is quite the spectacle. The fountain features laser performances at night and is turned off during certain times of day. During these off-times, walkers-by are invited to collect the coins that have been thrown in for good luck.
Unusual fact 9: 50% urban, 50% green
Known worldwide as being one of the most densely populated countries in the world, Singapore is also recognized for its incredible infrastructure, contemporary architecture and dazzling skyline. Surprisingly, 50% of this tiny, economic powerhouse is comprised of lush, fertile greenery in the form of forests, gardens, rainforests, parks, nature reserves and immaculate gardens.
Unusual fact 10: The ‘Hug Me’ Coca-Cola Machine
In an attempt to spread everyday happiness, Coca-Cola has designed a fun and unusual vending machine in Singapore that requests a hug, rather than money in exchange for a can of coke. Located on campus at the National University of Singapore, this successful marketing campaign couldn’t be more fun!
Unusual fact 11: One of only three surviving city-states left in the world
Consisting of a single city and its dependent territories, the term ‘city-state’ refers to a sovereign state or small independent county. Way way back this referred to Rome and Athens, amongst a few others, but today that number has reduced drastically. Other than Monaco and the Vatican City, Singapore is one of three sovereign city-states left in the world.
Unusual fact 12: Highest rooftop bar in the world
For those who like their drinks paired with a view, 1-Altitude Rooftop Gallery and Bar in One raffles Place in Singapore, is the highest rooftop bar on the planet. Stretching a dizzying 282 meters above ground level, 1-Altitude serves up pricy cocktails, an unparalleled 360-degree view of the bustling city and truly breathtaking sunsets.
Unusual fact 13: World record for The Great Singapore Duck Race
Yet another fun fact about Singapore is The Great Singapore Duck Race that is held every year to raise money for charity. Imagine the Singapore River at Clarke Quay covered in tens of thousands of bright yellow, cheerful rubber ducks bobbing down the river banks. Every year members of the community are encouraged to pay to ‘adopt’ a duck and race it down the Singapore River for a chance to win prizes. In 2002 The Great Singapore Duck Race set the new world record when over 123,000 ducks took to the waters of the Singapore River.
Unusual fact 14: Word’s tallest indoor waterfall
Not only are the colossal solar-powered ‘supertrees’ at Singapore’s Garden’s on the Bay a truly impressive sight in themselves, but the gardens are also home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Towering at a remarkable height of 35 meters high, the waters cascade down lush, vertical greenery and are a beautiful sight to behold.
Unusual fact 15: Singlish
While the four official languages of Singapore are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil; Singlish is a completely unique hybrid of the bunch and is frequently spoken by locals as part of the Singaporean identity and heritage. Studied by linguists the world over and documented in dictionaries, Singlish is an infusion of all four languages and has become the language of the street in Singapore. As of right now 19 Singlish words have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Unusual fact 16: Singapore was called Singapura
Fondly dubbed as The Lion City, this name for Singapore is a direct Sanskrit translation from the word Singapura. Singapura was named by Sang Nila Utama, a Sumatran Prince after he was sure that he spotted a lion on the island. ‘Singa’ comes from the Sanskrit word meaning 'lion', and ‘pura’ meaning 'city' in Sanskrit. And although impossible that he saw a lion, as lions have never lived in Singapore, the name stuck.
Unusual fact 17: National Children’s Day
Since 1961 on the 1st of October in Singapore, the entire country celebrates the children of Singapore by offering gifts and treats to children under the age of 12. The Friday of that week is also made into a public holiday and children are allowed the day off from school and homework to play and relax.
Unusual fact 18: Singapore Kindness Movement
A charity has established a non-profit campaign called the Singapore Kindness Movement that focuses on teaching adults and children the value found in being kind, honest, polite, ethical and having good manners. The campaign was inspired by the 1996 Prime Minister’s (Goh Chok Tong) New Year Message that emphasized the need for Singapore to become a gracious society. Respectful and thoughtful social behaviour are excellent backbones of a thriving and prosperous economy as well as a good government; and this campaign is designed to inspire such living. Seeing as though Singapore has been found to be the least corrupt country in Asia, the movement can perhaps be seen to be a huge success.
Unusual fact 19: For the love of trees
With their ‘supertrees’ that are famous across the world and the fact that 50% of their land is dedicated to plant life, it should come as no surprise that Singapore has a National Tree Planting Day on the 7th of November each year. Everyone from the Prime Minister to young children plant trees on this day and the day is enjoyed and celebrated by all. Trees are such a key component of life here in Singapore that Singaporeans even give names to tress and adopt them to give as birthday presents and wedding gifts.
Unusual fact 20: Singapore time zones
Singapore can’t seem to decide which time zone it wants to be in and the time zone has been changed a total of six times since 1905. Fortunately, as of right now most Southeast Asian countries are pretty evenly split between two time zones which is helpful in trade coordination, business dealings, stock-market and bank times and transport links. Hopefully this will mean that Singapore’s clocks are left alone for a while longer.
Want more unusual facts? Visit Singapore Yourself!
Much like the colourful and quirky friend that most of us have, Singapore’s unique traits and odd idiosyncrasies only make the vibrant and peculiar country all the more lovable.
What are you still reading for? Book your ticket to The City of The Lion, leave your chewing gum at home and come and see it all first-hand for yourself.