Singapore is one of the world's liveliest metropolises and certainly has its fair share of interesting quirks that Singaporeans may be used to, but are a shock to the rest of the world. These twenty facts will reshape your perception of Singapore.
1. Organ donation
Singapore has come up with its own way to address the shortage of organ donors: all residents above the age of 21 are registered as organ donors automatically. However, should one choose to opt out from the Human Organ Transplant Act, they will be put at the very bottom of the organ priority list and could face longer waits for organ transplants if they require one.
2. Slide your way to the boarding gates
Changi Airport has certainly learnt important lessons from the Google headquarter's designs. If Changi Airport couldn't be more exciting, Terminal 4 features a slide that takes you to your gates! Passengers can still choose to take escalators or the lifts, but who would pass up this opportunity to zip down a slide and land right in front of your boarding gate?
3. Need more time to cross the road?
Using their purple transport concession pass, elderly pedestrians can tap this card to have more time at pedestrian crossings. This also extends to those with the white Developmental Disability Registry ID card, which is given to persons with disabilities.
4. Michelin-starred hawker food
Singapore proves that cheap food can still be good - at least according to the world-renown Michelin Guide, which gave Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle Stall a Michelin star in 2018 and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle one in 2016. This puts their meals, priced at roughly $2 USD, in the same league as many fine dining establishments around the world!
5. Passport supremacy
Singapore has one of the most powerful passports in the world, granting visa-free access to 190 countries. This feat is also shared with Japan's passports.
6. Fancy anything? Or whatever?
Sebastian Coman Photography
Anything and Whatever were actually canned drinks sold in Singapore with a catch: while each offered six flavors, the cans in every pack were identical, so one wouldn't know what flavor they would get. The six flavours were Cola, Cola with Lemon, Apple, Fizz Up, Cloudy Lemon and Root beer.
7. We should just do this anyway, but...
It is illegal to not flush the toilet in Singapore. For failing to flush, one could be fined $150.
8. Independence woes
Singapore is the only country in modern history to gain independence against its own will. While Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the country voted for a merger with Malaya to form Malaysia in 1962, the ensuing political and racial conflicts forced the leaders to settle with a separation in 1965. With this agreement, Singapore became an independent nation on 9 August 1965.
9. Nice try, CIA
Robert D. Ward
In 1960, the CIA offered Mr Lee Kuan Yew USD$3.3 million to cover up the espionage activities of one of its agents. However, Prime Minister Lee refused and requested formal economic aid from the US instead. After revealing the matter in a 1965 interview, the US denied the incident. In a rage, PM Lee revealed a letter he received from then US Secretary of State and threatened to disclose further information.
10. Land Land Land
Due to land constraints, all the land in Singapore is owned by the government. In fact, unlike those in some other countries, Singapore's constitution does not guarantee a right to property.
11. Not just a few Crazy Rich Asians
Singapore has the world's highest percentage of millionaires, with 1 in 6 households having at least 1 million USD in disposable wealth.
12. A coffin in the sky
Goh Rhy Yan
Singapore Airlines Flight SQ21 from Singapore to New York (which lasts 18 hours making it one of the longest flights in the world) had special "corpse cupboards" to store any bodies that died mid-flight as there were few places they could land while the plane transited on its path.
13. Fashion police
Fearing the deleterious impact of western culture, the government made it illegal for males to have long hair in Singapore from the 1960s to 1990s, causing long-haired performers such as Led Zeppelin and the Bee Gees to cancel their performances in Singapore.
14. Sand imports
To fuel its extensive land reclamation, construction works and semiconductor manufacturing, Singapore is the largest importer of sand worldwide. It is also the world’s highest per capita consumer of sand at 5.4 tonnes per inhabitant.
15. Floating Apple
Apple Marina Bay Sands is the first Apple store that sits on water and opened on 10 September 2020.
Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve holds more species of trees than the entirety of North America.
Guo Xin Goh
Singapore is one of only three surviving city-states in the world. The other two are Monaco and the Vatican City.
18. Yakult sizes
The Japanese probiotic drink Yakult has created fond childhood memories for many Singaporeans. Perhaps they can thank the fact that Singapore has the biggest Yakult bottles in Southeast Asia: the 100ml size easily beats the 80ml size in the rest of Southeast Asia.
Speedwalking should be Singapore's national sport. Singaporeans have one of the highest walking speeds on earth, walking a distance of 18 metres in 10.55 seconds. That’s almost 6.15 kilometres per hour!
20. Singapore Flyer and Fengshui
When the Singapore Flyer opened in 2008, it rotated in a counter-clockwise direction as viewed from the Marina Centre. However, true to Singapore's Chinese influences and superstitious beliefs, it was reversed on the advice of Feng Shui masters. Furthermore, the observation wheel consists of 28 air-conditioned capsules, which each fitting 28 passengers. Both 2 and 8 are auspicious digits in the Chinese tradition.