20 FUN and Interesting Facts About Singapore

Singapore is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but did you also know that it’s only made up of one city?

The whole nation is full of interesting, amazing facts that astonish every traveler who visits Singapore. I couldn’t believe some of the unique laws the country has, or how they keep the cars so modern!

These 20 fun and interesting facts about Singapore will help you ace some bar trivia and learn more about the nation before you visit.

Keep reading to discover the amazing secrets of Singapore!

Marina Bay in Singapore looking across to the Marina Bay Sands Resort, Opera House, and Singapore Flyer
Singapore is a beautiful city-state and a fascinating place to visit and learn about.

10 Fun & Interesting Facts about Singapore

One of my favorite parts of travel is discovering interesting facts about the countries I visit. They make for great trivia later and ensure I never have a dull moment at a cocktail party.

If you’re looking for some fun facts about Singapore, check out my top 10 favorites!

They’ll prepare you for visiting Singapore and make you an expert at your next dinner party.

1. Singapore is 1 of 3 city-states in the world.

A city-state is a sovereign state centered around one city. There are only 3 modern, independent city-states in the world. The other 2 are Monaco and Vatican City. Because of it’s small size it is easy to explore Singapore in 2-3 days.

While places like Hong Kong and Macau are autonomous cities, as well, with independent governments, they are still considered to be a part of the larger nation of China and are not official city-states.

Singapore is unique among the city-states in that it is actually composed of over 60 small islands, most of which are uninhabited.

2. 23% of the country is reclaimed land.

the marina bay sands hotel at night
One of the most interesting facts about Singapore is that the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is built on land that didn’t exist 20 years ago.

Reclaimed land is an area that is created by filling in oceans, seas, lakes, or swamplands to expand the amount of useable land. Roughly 130 km2 of the 722.5km2 area of the city-state of Singapore is built on reclaimed land.

This land was reclaimed by extending into the waterfront. A significant portion of Singapore’s now booming downtown didn’t exist even a few decades ago.

They plan to grow the country to 766km2 by 2030.

This expansion is part of their 50-year plan to revitalize the city-state.

In the 1960s, Singapore was a slum town filled with dirt and disease. Now, they are a thriving nation with an impressive international economic presence. Much of the “iconic” features of the country didn’t even exist 20 years ago. For example, the Marina Bay Sands was only built in 2010.

I’m genuinely in awe of this interesting Singapore fact – and that they’re pulling it off! 

3. From 1942-1945, Singapore didn’t exist.

a mural painted on the wall in Chinatown Singapore
Singapore has a fascinating history. It’s settlement by Chinese immigrants is detailed in murals in Chinatown, but for several years during WWII, Singapore’s history was very dark due to Japanese occupation.

During World War 2, the Japanese occupied Singapore and renamed the city-state. It became known as Syonan-to, or “Bright Southern Island”. They even changed Singapore to share the Japanese time zone.

This occupation brought on racial massacres and high tensions.

The British forces helped liberate Singapore in 1945.

It’s one of the only countries I’ve ever heard of with a fascinating fact involving its temporary dissolution!

4. Singapore imports drinking water from Malaysia.

a bridge over water connecting two islands in Singapore
Singapore is surrounded by water but doesn’t produce its own drinking water supply. | Photo by Nina from Nina Out and About

Although it is surrounded by water, Singapore doesn’t have a supply of drinkable water. They have to import their drinking water from Malaysia.

The city-state is hoping to change this with their 50-year plan.

Marina Bay is being converted into a source of freshwater so the city will have its own source. Desalinated water, reservoirs, and rain catchments will reduce Singapore’s reliance on Malaysia and give them access to their own water in case of a crisis.

This will hopefully also cut down on the necessity of bottled water purchases, making the country even more sustainable and “green” than it already is.

5. Although Singapore helped create Malaysia, it is not a part of it.

Singapore was initially part of the formation of Malaysia. After realizing the racial imbalance built into treaties, which would devalue many of the city-state’s citizens, they opted for sovereignty.

People still mistakenly lump it in with Malaysia, or sometimes even China.

6. Singapore means the “lion city.”

the merlion statue in Singapore, known as the Lion City - one of the most interesting facts about Singapore
Singapore Is Also Known As The Lion City – one of the most fun facts about Singapore. The Merlion Statue Is One Of The Most Famous Singapore Landmarks. | Photo By Holger Detje From Pixabay

A prince from Palembang, Indonesia visited the city-state and thought he saw a lion on the banks. He called the land Singapura or “lion city” in Sanskrit. It’s unclear what he saw, since lions have never lived wild in Singapore. Perhaps it was a Malaysian tiger.

The lion makes up half of Singapore’s emblematic Merlion, which is half lion, half fish. The mermaid half represents the city’s origin as a fishing town.

This is one of those fun facts about Singapore that basically means the city-state’s name is misleading!

7. 80% of Singaporeans live in government housing.

skyscrapers in singapore at night
Subsidized housing isn’t just for the impoverished in Singapore. 80 percent of the country’s residents live in government housing.

This is one of the interesting Singapore facts that might seem insane considering how financially successful the country appears. The system, which created subsidized housing built and managed by the government originally began as a way to combat Singapore’s slums.

Now, there are government housing neighborhoods entirely composed of these flats. These flats are well built and affordable.

Once you turn 30 or get married, you can be entered into a lottery to get into public housing. Otherwise, you have to buy private property which can be extremely expensive.

With public housing, you get a 99-year lease. This contributes to Singapore’s 93% homeownership rate – the highest in the world.

8. Cars can’t be more than 10 years old.

overhead look at Singapore and the road to Marina Bay Sands Resort and Gardens By the Bay
Owning a car is expensive in Singapore and requires a permit that is only valid for 10 years. Luckily, Singapore has exceptional public transportation, so you can easily get around without one. | Photo by Nina from Nina Out and About

To own a car in Singapore, you have to buy a permit. The permits are only valid for 10 years. You can pay to extend it for a high price, or give away your car and buy a new one to get a new permit.

This keeps Singapore’s roads clear of clunky, broken-down cars. It also lends to the wealthy look of the city-state with all of the sleek, new cars driving around.

You’ll often see some of the fanciest cars in the world driving the Singaporean streets. It’s not just a lie or stereotype depicted in Crazy Rich Asians, it’s actually one of the most interesting facts about Singapore.

9. Singapore has some crazy laws.

Everyone knows the story that spitting gum on the sidewalk in Singapore will get you a fine. What you may not know is that gum is actually illegal in Singapore. You can only get it with a prescription. (What kind of disease means you need gum?!)

There is also a law against peeing in elevators. Elevators in Singapore will stop if they detect urine and hold the culprit until the police arrive. (How often were people peeing in elevators before?!)

Additionally, vomiting in public or drinking and eating on the metro will result in substantial fines. With so many laws resulting in fines, Singapore has been coined the “Fine City” – a nod to both its high quality and it’s crazy laws that will hit you in the pocketbook.

Speaking of hitting, somehow caning is still a legal punishment in this modern city-state. Be careful what rules you break or you might end up with a very sore bottom!

The craziest of laws (in my eyes anyway) is that being gay is illegal in Singapore. I won’t delve into the politics, but it does feel like this law belongs on this list with the other ridiculous laws in the country.

10. Singapore has one of the highest percentage of millionaires in the world.

One out of every 6 households in Singapore has at least $1 million USD of liquid wealth. This is partially due to the economic property of the country in recent years. Many citizens have been able to capitalize on the working conditions.

It is also due to the fact that Singapore is a popular tax haven. Many millionaires choose to settle in Singapore because of its low tax rates, which raises the country’s percentage.

Although it has a large number of millionaires, Singapore actually has one of the highest income inequalities in the developed world.

They don’t have a minimum wage. The large number of foreign workers they hire can’t even afford their public housing and often have to live in what are essentially shipping containers outside the city.

10 Bonus Fun Facts to Inspire Your Visit to Singapore

gardens by the bay at night
Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore’s top attractions. It’s free, nightly light show is a must-see.
  • Singapore is home to the only Michelin-star street food stall in the world! You can try the famous curry puffs at a Hawker Stall in the city.
  • It’s home to the world’s first night zoo. Visit at night to see the usually sleeping nocturnal animals at play.
  • There’s a waterfall in the airport! Jewel Changi Airport is rated one of the most stunning airports in the world, featuring a lush indoor garden with a man-made waterfall and a butterfly garden.
  • The national language is “Singlish”. It’s a combination of the multicultural society, using words from Eastern and Western languages.
  • When you think of Singapore ,you may think of skyscrapers first, but it’s actually one of the greenest cities in the world and is home to the largest indoor greenhouse in the world.
  • The city is divided into cultural neighborhoods to explore. Check out Little India, Singapore Chinatown, and Kampong Gelam.
  • It’s the only country in the modern world to gain independence against their will.
  • You can find the Singapore national anthem in the micro text on the back of the $1,000 note.
  • Singapore has four official languages: Malay, English, Mandarin, and Tamil.
  • Singapore is the most religious diverse country in the world, with one third of the country identifying as Buddhist, 18% Christian, 14% Muslim, 16% unaffiliated or atheist, and the remainder identifying as Hindu, Jewish or belonging to other religious groups.
the world's largest greenhouse at Gardens by the Bay
Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is home to the largest indoor greenhouse in the world.

Closing Thoughts on Singapore

You’ll discover so many fun facts about Singapore when you visit this stunning city-state, which is one of the best destinations in Asia for a family vacation. The nation is extremely unique in its clash between city-life and greenery, economic advancement and social hindrances.

These Singapore fun facts are meant to prepare you for your experience and to get you pumped about visiting such a unique location. Be sure to explore and find more fun facts of your own to share with future visitors!

Now that your wanderlust is piqued, book your trip to Singapore today!

About the author of this list of Interesting Facts about Singapore: Nina Clapperton is the founder of Nina Out and About. She has lived in 12 countries in the past 10 years, explored more than 30 countries, and has done most of it solo. A Canadian native, she also shares her favorite things to do in the True North. 

Do you have a question about any of these Singapore interesting facts? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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