- 1 1. Singapore is 1 of 3 city-states in the world.
- 2 2. 23% of the country is reclaimed land.
- 3 3. From 1942-1945, Singapore didn’t exist.
- 4 4. Singapore imports drinking water from Malaysia.
- 5 5. Although Singapore helped create Malaysia, it is not a part of it.
- 6 6. Singapore means the “lion city.”
- 7 7. 80% of Singaporeans live in government housing.
- 8 8. Cars can’t be more than 10 years old.
- 9 9. Singapore has some crazy laws.
- 10 10. Singapore has the percentage of millionaires in the world.
1. Singapore is 1 of 3 city-states in the world.
The other 2 are Monaco and Vatican City. Singapore is unique in that it is actually composed of over 60 small islands, most of which are uninhabited.
2. 23% of the country is reclaimed land.
That’s roughly 130 km2 of the 722.5km2 area of the city-state. 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.
3. From 1942-1945, Singapore didn’t exist.
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.
4. Singapore imports drinking water from Malaysia.
Although it’s 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. The Marina Bay is being converted into a source of fresh water so the city will have their 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.
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.”
A prince from Palembang 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. The mermaid half represents the city’s origin as a fishing town.
7. 80% of Singaporeans live in government housing.
This may seem insane considering how financially successful the country appears. The system began to combat Singapore’s slums. Now, there are government housing neighbourhoods 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 the 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% home ownership rate – the highest in the world.
8. Cars can’t be more than 10 years old.
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.
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?!)
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 in this list with the other ridiculous laws in the country.
10. Singapore has the percentage of millionaires in the world.
1 of every 6 households 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, 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 amount 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.