28 interesting facts about Singapore

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The most interesting facts about Singapore, from the world’s tallest indoor waterfall to the founding of World Toilet Day.

Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
Interesting facts about Singapore include its skyline (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Singapore
Population: 5,866,139
Area: 719 sq km
Capital city: Singapore
Major languages: English, Mandarin, other Chinese dialects
Major religions: Buddhist 31.1%, Christian 18.9%, Muslim 15.6%, Taoist 8.8%, Hindu 5%
Time zone: UTC+8 (Singapore Standard Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Singapore

1. Singapore is an island nation and city-state located in Southeast Asia.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

2. The island of Singapore used to be known as Temasek as early as the 14th century. Inhabited by fishermen and pirates, it served as an outpost for the Sumatran empire.
– Source: Britannica

3. Singapore is connected to Peninsular Malaysia on the Asian continent’s mainland by two causeways spanning the Johore Strait: the Johor Causeway and the Malaysia–Singapore Second Link. There have also been suggestions that a third bridge could be built to ease congestion although nothing has materialised yet.
– Source: Britannica, The Straits Times

A night view of one of the causeways connecting Singapore to mainland Asia
Singapore is connected to mainland Asia by two causeways (Shutterstock)

4. Modern Singapore was essentially founded by Sir Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company in 1819 when he established a trading post on Singapore island.
– Source: BBC News

5. Singapore was briefly part of Malaysia when it, along with other former British colonies, joined the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia in 1963. However, in 1965 Singapore declared independence from the Federation of Malaysia.
– Source: BBC News

6. The Singapore flag is red and white horizontally striped with a white crescent and five stars in the upper left corner. The red and white stand for universal brotherhood and equality and purity and virtue; the crescent for the growth of a young country; and the five stars for democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
– Source: Britannica

The Singapore flag flying in front of a blue sky
The Singapore flag (Shutterstock)

7. From 1819, Singapore was a British colony known as the “Gibraltar of the East” due to its strategic importance as a British stronghold similar to Gibraltar on the Iberian Peninsula.
– Source: History Channel

8. Singapore’s Changi Airport has repeatedly won the world’s best airport award. In fact, the airport has won the award 11 times since 2000 and won the award eight times in a row from 2013 to 2020.
– Source: Lonely Planet

9. The world’s tallest indoor waterfall is located in Singapore. The Rain Vortex is 40m (131ft) high and pumps 500,000 litres of rainwater through the roof of the Jewel building at Changi Airport.
– Source: Lonely Planet, BBC News

The Rain Vortex surrounded by green vegetation
The Rain Vortex at Changi Airport (Shutterstock)

10. Singapore hosted the first-ever Formula One night race. In 2008, the Marina Bay Street Circuit hosted F1’s inaugural nighttime race with the circuit illuminated by floodlights.
– Source: Formula One

11. Singapore is home to the world’s first nocturnal zoo. The Singapore Night Safari opened in 1994 and is the world’s first zoo that opens exclusively at night.
– Source: Guinness World Records

12. Singapore is home to the UNESCO-listed Singapore Botanic Gardens: “Situated at the heart of the city of Singapore, the site demonstrates the evolution of a British tropical colonial botanic garden that has become a modern world-class scientific institution used for both conservation and education.”
– Source: UNESCO

An archway of flowers and plants
The Green Gate in Singapore Botanic Gardens (Shutterstock)

13. In 2017, Singapore’s first female president, Halimah Yacob, was sworn in. As a member of the Muslim Malay minority, she is also the country’s first Malay leader in 47 years.
– Source: BBC News

14. In addition to the main island, Singapore also has 64 offshore islands.
– Source: Singapore Tourism Board

15. In 2020, Singapore’s street food was inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The inscription represents the community of vendors who cook and sell meals in the 114 hawker centres across the city-state.
– Source: UNESCO, The Guardian

People eating street food in Singapore
A hawker centre in Singapore (Shutterstock)

16. In 1942, Japan invaded Singapore and occupied the island during the Second World War. It was liberated and returned to British rule in 1946.
– Source: History Channel

17. Singapore has expanded its surface area by more than a fifth (22%)since its independence in 1965 from 581 sq km to 719 sq km. It has done this by reclaiming land from the sea and by controversially importing large quantities of sand from countries such as Cambodia.
– Source: The Guardian

18. In 2013, Singapore founded World Toilet Day when it tabled a UN resolution, Sanitation for All, to raise awareness of the global challenge of sanitation and toilets. World Toilet Day is celebrated annually on 19th November.
– Source: World Toilet Organization, The Straits Times

19. Singapore has been named the second safest city in the world according to the latest Safe Cities Index report.
– Source: Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

Singapore's skyline
Singapore’s skyline (Shutterstock)

20. Singapore is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. In 2022, it was ranked as the world’s joint-fourth and Asia’s least corrupt country.
– Source: Transparency International

21. The national symbol of Singapore is the lion or merlion – a mythical half lion-half fish creature.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book, Singapore Tourism Board

22. The name Singapore comes from the Sanskrit words “simha” (lion) and “pura” (city) which describe the country’s lionlike symbols.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

A merlion statue in Singapore
A merlion statue (Shutterstock

23. Singapore has the sixth-lowest murder rate in the world with just 0.2 intentional homicides per 100,000 people.
– Source: World Bank

24. Singapore has been ranked the world’s fifth most powerful city in the annual Global Power City Index.
– Source: Mori Memorial Foundation

25. Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve supposedly holds more tree species than the entire North American continent.
Source: Lonely Planet

A walkway surrounded by lush tropical vegetation
Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (Shutterstock)

26. Singapore calls itself the Garden City and has stated its intention to become the “world’s greenest city” through a number of initiatives which include expanding its green spaces and insisting that developments must include plant life such as green roofs, vertical gardens and verdant walls.
– Source: National Geographic

27. Singapore has the world’s second-lowest fertility rate with just 1.1 children born per woman on average.
Source: World Bank

28. Singapore has the world’s joint-most powerful passport. Along with the Japanese, the Singaporean passport can easily access 192 destinations.
– Source: Henley Passport Index

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Singapore using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.