Singapore is known as “the fine country” because you can get fined for everything and anything – from sticking your gum under your chair to feeding monkeys. Even handcuffs (like those pink fuzzy ones) are banned. But then again, why would you carry those around to begin with? Anyway, if that doesn’t astound you enough then here are five other facts that you probably didn’t know about Singapore, a lovely little city-state in Southeast Asia.
1. It’s always growing
Yes, you read that correctly. It has actually grown by 25% over the last 40 years, since independence, thanks to reclamation (creating new land from the sea). If you visit Marina Bay, East Coast or Tuas, you’re actually standing on land that wasn’t there too long ago! A huge motivator for this is population boom – Singapore has gone from 1.6 million to 5.3 million in the past half century! Aside from Monaco, Singapore is also the world’s most densely populated country, with 6,430 people per square kilometer. But if the main island gets too full, no worries, Singapore is actually made up of 63 islands and so there’s always some (almost) deserted island you can escape to! Some popular islands include: Pulau Ubin, Pulau Hantu, Sisters Island, Sentosa and St.John’s Island.
2. Gum used to be banned (and you still can’t buy it)
You can actually chew gum in Singapore since the lifting of the infamous ban. But you’ll have to bring your own personal stash from abroad (the authorities aren’t likely to confiscate it.) But remember, you’re not allowed to sell it and you won’t find it sold in stores. If you get desperate for a gum fix, hop over to neighboring Malaysia to get some.
3. The national language is actually Malay
There are four official languages that are recognized in this island state: English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Although English is widely spoken, the official language is actually Malay for historical reasons. It’s used in military commands, for example, and is the language of the national anthem, “Majulah Singapura” which means, “Onward, Singapore!”
4. It’s home to the fastest walkers in the world
Crazy, right? Who was the guy that was like, “I’m so bored…let me measure people’s walking time.” It was actually British psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, who studied cities in 32 countries and found out that the top five fastest walkers in the world are in:
2. Copenhagen (Denmark)
3. Madrid (Spain)
4. Guangzhou (China)
5. Dublin (Ireland)
Researches in each city found a busy street with a wide pavement that was flat, free from obstacles and not too crowded so that people could walk at their maximum speed. Armed with stopwatches, they timed how long it took 35 men and women to walk along a 60 foot (18 meter) stretch of pavement. Those that were talking on their cell phones or struggling with grocery bags were excluded. So yeah, even New Yorkers are apparently slower. Who would’ve thought?
5. Chili Crab
It’s one of the world’s seven most iconic (and delicious!) dishes, and number 35 on the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods list, compiled by CNN Go in 2011. It’s a popular seafood dish that originates from Singapore, and it’s usually made with mud crabs that are stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savory tomato and chili based sauce.