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31 Fun Facts about Singapore

Discover 31 fun facts about Singapore, from its status as the only island city-state in the world to its history, geography and world record holders. 

Marina Bay at sunset with Merlion in foreground.

Singapore is a city-state located in Southeast Asia that is known for its vibrant culture, delicious food, and stunning architecture. But there are also many fun Singapore facts to discover about this amazing country. 

For example, did you know that Singapore has not always been known as Singapore? And that it is the most expensive city in the world to buy a car? Or that its national symbol is a Merlion? And just what is a Merlion anyway? 

Read on to learn some interesting and quirky facts about the country known as the Little Red Dot.

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Here we share some fun and interesting Singapore facts that you probably didn’t know.

1. Singapore is the only island city-state in the world.

That means the whole country is basically just one big city, without a capital. It is one of only three surviving city-states in the world. The other two are Monaco and Vatican City. 

2. It is made up of one main island and 62 smaller islands.

Most people live on the main island, which is connected to mainland Malaysia by two bridges. Other islands include Sentosa Island, Pulau Ubin, St John’s and Kusu Island. 

3. The country has a total land area of 728.3 square kilometres.

This makes it more than 10,000 times smaller than Australia! In terms of area, Singapore is the second smallest country in Asia, after the Maldives.

4. Singapore has a population of approximately 5.5 million people.

Yes, that’s a lot of people for such a small place. In fact, it is the second most densely populated country in the world after Monaco. 

Marina Bay light show.

5. It was named the most expensive city in the world in 2022.

We all know that Singapore has a reputation for being expensive. But it’s official too.

The Economist Intelligence Unit named Singapore and New York as the most expensive cities in the world in 2022. This is the eighth time in ten years that Singapore has topped the leaderboard. Ouch.

6. There are four official languages of Singapore.

These are English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil and represent the four main ethnic origins of the Singapore population.

While the Constitution of Singapore states that the national language of Singapore is Malay, Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language amongst the population and English is the main language for business. Most of Singapore’s population are bilingual. 

7. The city state is home to the world’s largest indoor fountain.

The HSBC Rain Vortex is 40m tall, making it the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. It is located at the Jewel Changi, attached to Changi Airport’s terminal building. 

HSBC Rain Vortex waterfall at Jewel Changi.

8. The most followed religion in the country is Buddhism.

This is followed by Islam, Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism and others. More than 40% of Singaporeans consider themselves to be Buddhist. 

9. Singapore was home to the world’s first night zoo.

The Singapore Night Safari opened to the public on 3 May 1994 as the world’s first zoo that opens exclusively at night. It remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore.

The Night Safari opens from 7.15pm to midnight daily, and nocturnal animals are made visible thanks to artificial moonlight.

10. Singapore hosted the world’s first Formula 1 night race.

The first ever Formula One night race was held at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on 28 September 2008. The race was won by Fernando Alonso, driving for Renault. The race has been held annually since.

It is not only one of the biggest sporting events in the Asia calendar but also one of the biggest music festivals, with famous bands flying in from around the world to entertain the crowds. 

11. It is one of the greenest cities in the world and the most sustainable city in Asia.

Known as a “City in Garden”, almost 50% of Singapore is green spaces, including nature reserves, parks and gardens

It has the ambitious target to become a ‘City in Nature‘ by 2030, and is making investments to enhance biodiversity, improve air and water quality, and combat climate change.

The government has also invested in sustainable housing, transportation, and waste management solutions.

Waterfall and surrounding greenery at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

12. It is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens was awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. It was recognised as featuring a rich variety of historic features, plantings and buildings that demonstrate the development of the garden since its creation in 1859.

It was also lauded for being a modern world-class scientific institution used for both conservation and education.

13. The national symbol of Singapore is a Merlion.

What is a Merlion, you ask? It is a mythical creature that is half lion and half fish. 

You can find the iconic Merlion statue at One Fullerton in the Marina Bay area of the city.

14. The name Singapore means ‘Lion City’.

If you have heard Singapore called the Lion City, that’s because the city’s ancient Sanskrit name of Singapura means ‘lion city’.

The name came from a Sumatran prince who ruled the country in the 14-century. One day, the prince encountered a lion for the first time while he was hunting… except there were no lions in Singapore. 

What he probably saw was a tiger. But never mind, the name stuck. 

Merlion Park Singapore.

15. Singapore is the World’s fastest-growing country by land reclamation. 

According to Guinness World Records, Singapore is the fastest-growing country through land reclamation when compared as a percentage of its original size.

In 1960, the island nation had a total area of 581.5 km² (224.5 miles²). Since then, Singapore has added over 100 km² (38.6 miles²) of land, representing an increase of 17% of the original area.

By 2030, Singapore aims to extend the area by a total of 150 km² (58 miles²), which is a quarter (25%) of its original area!

16. Singapore is the most expensive city in the world to buy a car.

In order to discourage car ownership, the Singapore government heavily taxes cars. An average car in Singapore will cost $86,412 (£64,359), which is nearly double that of the next most expensive city, Copenhagen at $44,062 (£32,817). 

17. It is also one of the world’s top ten safest countries.

According to the 2022 Global Peace Index, Singapore ranked 9th safest country in the world. As a city-state, Singapore also ranks as the second-safest city in the world according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, partly due to the severe penalties that are issued for even small crimes. 

Helix Bridge lit up at night in purple lights.

18. It is home to the world’s first double helix bridge.

The Helix is a 280m pedestrian bridge that links Marina Centre with Marina South in the Marina Bay area of Singapore.

Inspired by DNA, the walkway is enclosed by opposing double-helix stainless steel structures. The bridge cost a whopping SGD$82,900,000.

19. Singapore is known as the “Fine City” 

No, that has nothing to do with the weather but rather the fact that they tend to issue fines for offences and misdemeanours. Here are some offences you can be fined for in Singapore:

  • Connecting to someone’s unsecured WiFi without permission
  • Vaping and smoking Shisha
  • Jaywalking within 50m of a pedestrian crossing
  • Selling chewing gum
  • Littering
  • Taking durian on public transport
  • Not flushing a public toilet

20. Singapore has the “World’s Best Airport”

Singapore’s Changi Airport was named the World’s best airport at the World Airport Awards at Passenger Terminal EXPO in Amsterdam in March 2023.

It is the 12th time the international airport has received this award.

Changi Airport tower.

21. Singapore was briefly known by the name Syonan-to.

During the Japanese occupation of Singapore during World War II, Singapore was renamed Syonan-to. This means, “Light of the South.” It was renamed Singapore again after the war.

22. Singapore has the world’s largest collection of orchids.

The National Orchid Garden is the world’s largest tropical orchid garden, with over 1000 species of orchid and 2000 hybrids on display.

This famous tourist attraction is known for its ‘celebrity’ orchid hybrids, created for visiting dignitaries and celebrities. These include the Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana, Ricky Martin and Jacky Chan orchids. 

23. The Singapore flag has a hidden meaning.

The Singapore flag is red and white and features a crescent moon with five stars. The red on the flag symbolises brotherhood and equality, while the white stands for purity and virtue.

The crescent moon symbolises a young nation on the rise, while the stars represent the country’s five most important virtues. These are democracy, peace, progress, justice, and equality.

24. Singapore began as a British colony.

Modern Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles, and it became a British colony in 1819. The islands were controlled by the British until World War II.

Raffles’ Town Plan of 1822 divided the city up into ethnic enclaves that can still be seen in the geography of Singapore today in Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Gelam, as well as the CBD that was allocated to business. 

Raffles Landing site in Singapore with statue of Sir Stamford Raffles.

25. It was once illegal for men to have long hair in Singapore. 

In the 1960s, due to the growing hippie culture worldwide, long hair for men was outlawed in Singapore, for fear that the culture would be detrimental to the country’s development.

This applied to foreigners trying to enter the country also, and the Bee Gees and Led Zeppelin famously cancelled their concerts in Singapore because of this. The ban was officially lifted in the 1990s.

26. The national flower of Singapore is an orchid.

The Vanda Miss Joaquim (pronounced Joe-ah-Kim) was chosen as Singapore’s national flower in 1981. It was chosen due to orchids being associated with being hybrids, which it was felt represented the multicultural heritage of Singapore. 

27. The national anthem of Singapore is called Majulah Singapura.

Majulah Singapura means “Onward Singapore” in Malay. The anthem is written in the Malay language, and by law it must be sung with Malay lyrics. However, there are authorised translations of the anthem lyrics in Singapore’s three other official languages: English, Mandarin and Tamil.

28. Singapore’s highest natural point is just 164m above sea level.

Bukit Timah Hill is Singapore’s highest natural point and is just 164m (538ft) high. That’s 118.7m lower than Singapore’s tallest building, the Guoco Tower!

Singapore Sling at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel.

29. The Singapore Sling was invented here.

No surprises given the name, but the Singapore Sling was created in 1915 by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon at the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel.

Heading to the Long Bar and sipping on a Singapore Sling is still a highlight of many tourists’ trips to Singapore. 

30. The Republic of Singapore gained independence in 1965.

The People’s Action Party has been the only ruling party to form the government in Singapore. It has remained in power since the 1959 general election when Lee Kuan Yew became Singapore’s first prime minister (Singapore was at that time a self-governing state within the British Empire).

31. The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in Singapore contains more species of trees than North America.

The 163-hectare nature reserve remains one of the few areas of primary rainforest in Singapore. Due to its location on the equatorial belt, it has one of the most diverse ecological systems in the world.

Besides 840 flowering plants and 500 animal species, it also contains more tree species in one hectare than the whole of North America.

Bonus Fun Fact: A Singaporean holds the world record for the fastest time to solve a rotating puzzle cube whilst juggling!

This was achieved by Daryl Tan Hong An on 1 January 2023. The time taken was 13.03 seconds. Daryl specialises in cubing records and also holds other world records.

These include the most 2x2x2 rotating puzzle cubes solved underwater and the fastest time to solve two rotating puzzle cubes simultaneously whilst suspended upside down.

Way to go Daryl!