The Republic of Singapore is an island situated in Southeast Asia. It is the third most densely populated country in the world and one of only three city-states.
Let’s have a look at the top 10 most interesting facts about Singapore.
1. Singapore was briefly part of the Federation of Malaysia.
Singapore gained its independence from Britain in 1959. Lee Kuan Yew of the People’s Action Party (PAP) became the country’s first prime minister. He championed the integration of Singapore into the Federation of Malaysia, to join other former British territories, Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak. A referendum was held on September 1, 1962, and voters overwhelmingly chose to join the federation under conditions that gave Singapore the most autonomy. The referendum did not offer an option to reject the alliance outrightly. Within two years, racial and ideological strife between Singapore and the other member states prompted the Malaysian Prime Minister to decide to separate Singapore from Malaysia, an interesting Singapore fact. Negotiations were carried out in complete secrecy. Lee Kuan Yew’s tearful announcement of the proclamation of independence on August 9, 1965, was met with shock and regret, but also some relief.
2. Japan occupied Singapore during World War II.
On February 15, 1942, the British conceded victory to the Japanese in the Battle of Singapore. The Japanese renamed Singapore to Syonan-to, meaning “Light of the South.” They retained occupation of the island city until their surrender at the end of the war when it was returned to Britain. During their rule, between 25,000 and 50,000 ethnic Chinese residents of Singapore were executed in exercises aimed at purging anti-Japanese sentiment. Singapore was a critical naval base, and the Allied forces initiated many operations to disrupt Japanese activities, culminating in heavy bombing between November 1944 and May 1945.
3. Singapore is one of the four “Asian Tigers.”
The 1960s were the start of the global economic recovery from the two World Wars and the Korean War. Multi-national corporations looked to move their manufacturing operations to overseas locations with low labor costs and other benefits. South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong were all well-positioned to take advantage of this. They all had robust colonial-era infrastructure, educated populations, and cultural traditions that valued achievement. An interesting fact about Singapore is that it was particularly well-positioned being a deep-water harbor between Europe, Australia, and the west coast of the Americas. All four nations, who were labeled the “Asian Tigers,” took steps to secure foreign investment, including tax incentives and favorable labor legislation.
4. National service is compulsory in Singapore.
At the time of independence, Singapore had only 1,000 native soldiers. Lee Kuan Yew regarded the establishment of a competent military force as essential to maintaining Singapore’s sovereignty, especially with the exit of British troops planned for 1971. The National Service (Amendment) Act came into effect in March 1967, making national service compulsory for all males over 18 years of age, a fun Singapore fact. Since then, more than a million men have served in the Singapore Armed Forces, police, or Singapore Civil Defense Force. In addition to meeting the country’s defense needs, the armed forces have assisted with natural disaster recoveries and combatting international piracy.
5. Singapore has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in the world.
15.5% of Singapore’s households have a disposal wealth of more than 1 million US dollars. The World Ultra Wealth Report 2019 lists Hong Kong as having the highest density of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, followed by Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Singapore.
6. The move from “Garden City” to “city in a garden.”
In 1967, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew unveiled his plan to turn Singapore into the “Garden City.” By 1970, over 55,000 trees had been planted, and between 1975 and 2014, the city’s green spaces increased a thousand-fold from 2,200 to 24,000 acres. In 1998, the focus shifted from creating a “Garden City” to make Singapore a “city in a garden.” Rather than just introducing greenery to the built environment, government initiatives aimed to instill environmental consciousness among all Singaporeans. Today, the nation is a shining example of how to protect natural biodiversity and improve the quality of life for humans by the introduction of natural recreational areas.
7. Singapore Botanical Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Singapore Botanical Gardens was founded in 1859 and made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, an interesting fact about Singapore. The gardens span 180 acres and house more than 10,000 types of plants. The world’s most extensive collection of orchids can be found here with 1,200 species and more than 2,000 hybrids. The VIP Orchid Garden houses hybrids named after visiting dignitaries and celebrities.
8. It is illegal to urinate in elevators in Singapore.
Singapore takes cleanliness extremely seriously. Not only does it have some bizarre laws concerning it, but it enforces them strictly, and the punishments can be very harsh. There are substantial penalties for littering, spitting in public, and for not flushing public toilets. But perhaps the most bizarre law is against urinating in elevators. Some elevators are even equipped to sense urine and shut down, keeping the offender locked inside until the police arrive.
9. Singapore is consistently rated as one of the easiest places to do business.
The World Bank maintains the Ease of Doing Business Index, which ranks countries in terms of the extent to which their business environment and practices support local firms. The research looks at ten different sub-indices e.g., the ease of enforcing debt contracts and the time, cost, and processes of registering commercial property. In the 2020 index, Singapore ranked second to New Zealand, a fun Singapore fact.
10. There are street food vendors on the Michelin Guide for Singapore.
Singapore has a vibrant street food culture, with more than 100 hawker centers and about 6000 stalls in total. In 2016, two street vendors made history by being awarded the coveted Michelin star. At an average price of less than two US dollars a dish, it’s unlikely you’ll eat better for cheaper.
Singapore successfully converted itself from a third to a first world nation in just one generation. I hope that this article on Singapore facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!