As any expat who has made Singapore home will tell you, the Little Red Dot has a fascinating history and is a rich cultural heritage. But how well do you know really know your adopted home? Here are 20 quirky facts about Singapore for trivia buffs which you can use to impress your friends!
1. A Singapore Sling contains gin, Cointreau, cherry brandy, Dom Benedictine, pineapple juice, Grenadine, Angostura bitters and lime. It was first served in the Long Bar of Raffles Hotel in 1915.
2. The longest human tooth ever extracted was removed from a patient in Singapore, in 2009. It measured 3.2 centimetres in length.
3. Singapore is one of the 20 smallest countries in the world, with a total land area of just 683 square kilometres. The main island is 42km long and 23km wide.
4. When it opened in 2008, the Singapore Flyer rotated in a counter-clockwise direction as viewed from the Marina Centre, but later that year was reversed on the advice of Feng Shui masters.
5. Singlish (Singaporean English) includes words from English, Malay, Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi and more. You might hear: “lah”, “lor”, “leh”, “meh”, “kena”, “kiasu”, “liao”, “makan” and – instead of “yes” and “no” – “can” and “cannot”.
6. Ilo Ilo (director: Anthony Chen) is the only Singaporean feature film to have been awarded the Camera d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival (in 2013).
7. The Tanjong Pagar Centre, which opened in 2016, is Singapore’s tallest building at 290 metres, claiming the record after permission was granted for it to go above the usual height restriction of 280 metres.
8. Singapore is home to a population of Sunda pangolins (scaly anteaters). They live mostly in the Central Catchment Area, and each adult can eat around 70 million insects a year.
9. Singaporean Ainan Celeste Cawley is the youngest person in the world to have passed O-level Chemistry – he was seven at the time.
10. The World Toilet Organisation was founded in Singapore and has its headquarters here. It’s a global non-profit organisation that aims to improve toilet conditions around the world.
11. Singapore is hot – day after day after day. Except for 31 January 1934, that is, when the island recorded its lowest ever temperature: a not-very-chilly 19.4°C.
12. Singapore has more than 3,000 kilometres of roads which, stretched from end to end, would cover the distance from here to Hong Kong.
13. Between eight and nine out of 10 Singaporeans live in public housing.
14. According to the British Council, Singaporeans have the fastest walking speed in the world – an average of 18 metres in 10.55 seconds. That’s also how fast bumblebees fly.
15. On Singapore’s flag, red symbolises equality, white signifies virtue, the crescent moon represents a nation on the rise, and the five stars signify democracy and justice.
16. In March 2015, an SG50 time capsule containing 50 items representative of Singapore was sealed and is to be opened in year 2065.
17. Singapore’s name derives from the Malay words for “lion” and “city”, though studies suggest that lions have never lived here. The Malay prince who coined the name in the 13th century after seeing an impressive wild animal on the island is likely to have seen a Malayan Tiger.
18. Singapore’s oldest bridge that is still in use is Cavenagh Bridge (1869). An original sign next to the bridge warns that horses and cattle are not allowed to cross.
19. The “Katong laksa war” did not involve an actual food fight, but instead was a rivalry (some would say an ongoing one) among certain hawker stall-owners to be recognised as the purveyor of the first or best laksa in the area.
20. Singapore is made up of the island of Singapore itself and 60 smaller islands. Everyone knows Pulau Ubin, but have you heard of Pulau Biola (Violin Island) or Pulau Jong (Junk Island)?
For more info like this see our Living In Singapore Section
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This article first appeared in the City guide 2017/18 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!