Singapore travel facts

Singapore is a truly global city and considered a gateway to Asia. This tiny but wealthy city-state was once a sleepy Malay fishing village and has since been transformed into a major financial centre. The city is known for its efficiency and is a great place to do business. However, it also suffers from a somewhat dull and sterile image as well complaints of being a cultural desert.

Singapore is a major transit route and many tourists use the city as a base to explore the rest of Southeast Asia. Singapore is famous for many things including efficiency, shopping, world-class medical hospitals and chilli crabs. However, it has also gotten publicity for all the wrong reasons, mainly for its tough laws like defamation suits against Western press, caning and death penalty.

All this negative news has had a negative impact on Singapore which is facing stiff competition from other fun Asian cities like Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok for the tourism dollar. But there is certainly a great deal which Singapore offers visitors that other metropolises of the region cannot.

Singapore has over the years been increasingly trying to shake off its staid reputation by allowing bar top dancing and lifting the ban on casinos. This year marks a major milestone in Singapore with the opening of its two new Integrated Resorts, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa.

Interesting facts about Singapore

Singapore facts: The ancient name of Singapore is Temasek. During the Malay-Srivijaya Kingdom, it was Sang Nila Utama who founded and named Singapura (Singapore in Malay). Sang Nila Utama was a prince from Palembang who stumbled upon Temasek while on a hunting trip. While chasing after a deer on a nearby island he climbed up a rock and saw another island across with a white sandy beach. He then decided to visit Temasek.

Singapore facts: Singapore has a population of over 5 million, with a density per square kilometre of over 7,000 people, making it one of the most crowded places in the world. Around 40 per cent of the populace is foreigners.

Singapore facts: Singapore was once under attack by a school of swordfish who would kill anyone on shore instantly. The Raja of Singapore or Paduka Sri Maharaja visited the site and witnessed for himself the havoc the swordfish had wrought. He ordered his men to form a barricade with their shins but they too were speared to death.

But while he was there, he heard a boy who suggested that the barricades be made of banana leaves instead. Knowing the boy was right, he ordered his men to form such barricades. The plan proved to be successful as the swordfish’s snout got stuck in the barricades and they were subsequently killed.

In the end, however, the Raja’s chiefs advised him to kill the boy. They believed, as the boy was smart, he would be a threat to the Raja when he grows up. The boy was finally thrown to sea. According to urban legends, until today, you can still hear the boy crying for help at sea.

Singapore facts: Singapore was not always a cultural desert. It once had a thriving arts and film industry prior to independence. It was the centre for Malay movie making industry in Jalan Ampas similar to Hollywood. This star making machinery produced stars of the bygone eras who are still popular today like P. Ramlee and Siput Sarawak.

Singapore facts: Singapore consists of 63 islands (including mainland Singapore) and measures 710 square kilometres. It is set to grow by another 100 square kilometres or so by 2030 through continued land reclamation.

Singapore facts: Despite its diminutive size, Singapore is the most developed Southeast Asian city. It is the third wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP power parity per capita and has the world’s 11th largest total of foreign reserves.

Singapore facts: Singapore is a major financial centre and is considered the Switzerland of the East. According to the Cap Gemini – Merill Lynch World Wealth Report, Singapore has one of the highest concentration of high net worth individuals in the world. There are many private banking centres in Singapore to tap onto the growth of the city’s growing millionaires.