At 728.3 square kilometres, Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world. Put into context, it’s 15,000 times smaller than the United States. But it’s also one of the world’s most modern cities. Part-colonial port, part-futuristic metropolis, it charms hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Beyond its futuristic facade, there are dozens of fascinating stories, facts and secrets to the city-state too. Intrigued? Here are some of the most interesting facts about Singapore that you probably didn’t know.
Seven interesting facts about Singapore
1.Singapore is one of the only surviving city-states in the world.
There are only three city-states in the world: Monaco, the Vatican City and Singapore.
2. The $1000 bill is particularly notable
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one of the elusive Singapore $1000 bills, you’re in for a fun surprise if you look close enough. The entire national anthem ‘Majulah Singapura’ is printed on the back of it in micro text.
3. There’s a limit on building height
Buildings in Singapore cannot be higher than 280 metres tall. Restrictions are in place across Raffles Place, Marina Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Bugis and Kallang because of the proximity of Paya Lebar Airbase. The priority is to keep the surrounding airspace around it clear. This is why the three tallest buildings in the city-state all reach 280 metres: The OUB Centre, UOB Plaza and Republic Plaza.
4. It’s more than one island
Most people assume that the mainland makes up the entirety of Singapore. In fact, it’s made up of an additional 64 islands. The largest off-shore island is Sentosa, where you’ll find Universal Studios, a state-of-the-art aquarium and some of the best beaches in the region. Pulau Ubin is another popular island, which transports visitors back to Singapore of the 1960s. It’s a great spot for trekking or exploring one of the last wetland reserves in Singapore. And then there’s St John’s Island, a former quarantine station turned the ultimate tropical paradise getaway. There’s an island for everyone.
5. It’s one of the world’s greenest cities
It may have a reputation as the city of skyscrapers, but there’s a greener side to it too. Nearly half of Singapore’s land area is green. There are 350 parks and gardens, including Gardens by the Bay which is on every tourist’s bucket list. Spread over 101 hectares, it features two of the world’s tallest SuperTree Groves connected with a bridge to offer panoramic views. It’s also home to four nature reserves. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve holds more species of trees than the entire North American continent. You’ll also find pockets of plant life in the most unusual places. Case in point? The Park Royal, a hotel-in-a-garden concept with a four-storey cascading vertical garden.
6. It’s home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall
At Jewel Changi Airport, you’ll find HSBC Rain Vortex. The tallest in the world, it cascades 40-metres down seven storeys, surrounded by lush indoor gardens. When the sky falls, the water becomes a screen for a spectacular light show. It’s possibly the most exciting airport in the world.
Singapore is also home to the world’s first-ever man-made waterfall. Built in 1971, the waterfall stood at 30-metres tall in Jurong Bird Park.
7. It disappeared from the map
When the island transferred hands between the Majapahit Empire and Siam’s Ayutthaya Kingdom, Singapore became a crucial trading point for the Sultanate of Johor. This led to Portuguese pirates burning down the city in 1613. For more than a century it was obsolete and completely wiped off the map. It wasn’t until the early 18th-century that migrants from neighbouring towns moved in. In 1819, the British established it as a trading post and it was back on the map.