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A LITTLE HISTORY...
1. Lion CityIt was recorded that ancient Singapore was founded by Sang Nila Utama, a prince from the Srivijaya empire, who set sail with his men during the 13th century and landed on the island, where they spotted a lion. The animal was believed to be auspicious, so the prince decided to build his new city on the island, naming it “Singapura” or Lion City. To this day, Singapore is referred to as the Lion City.
3. Japanese OccupationIn 1942, the British lost Singapore to the Japanese, who was set to capture South-east Asia. Singapore was renamed Syonan-to, which means “Light of the South Island”. The Japanese Occupation was the darkest period in Singapore's history. The local population was subject to harsh and brutal rule until 1945, when the British returned.
2. Sir Stamford RafflesSir Thomas Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company founded Singapore as a trading port in 1819, against growing competition from other European colonial powers in the Malay archipelago. He adopted a policy of free trade, which attracted a large number of traders from the region. As a result of his acumen, Singapore gained in population and trade volume and soon became an important trading port. Today, Raffles' statue stands in front of the grand Victoria Theatre, while its replica is located at North Boat Quay in a spot known as the Raffles Landing Site.
4. Self-GovernmentSingapore broke free of British rule in 1959 and joined Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia in 1963. However, Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965 to become an independent state, with the ruling party led by Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
7 THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT SINGAPORE
PURITY AND VIRTUE
The MerlionThe half-fish, half-lion creature is a symbol of Singapore conceived by the Singapore Tourism Board in 1964. The fish symbolises Singapore as a port city and dependence on maritime trade, harking back to the days of Temasek (“Sea Town” in Javanese). The lion symbolises Singapore as a Lion City.
National DaySingapore’s national day is on 9 August. The country has been independent since 1965.
Vanda Miss Joaquim
The national flower is an orchid hybrid of V.teres and V.hookeriana.
It was discovered in 1893 by Agnes Joaquim, an Armenian.
The national language of Singapore is Malay but English is the common language used for business, government and communicating with one another. The official languages in Singapore are English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, representing each major ethnic group in Singapore.
Majulah SingapuraThe national anthem of Singapore was composed by Zubir Said in 1958. “Majulah Singapura” which means “Onward Singapore”, can only be sung with its original Malay lyrics as stated by the law.
Feng ShuiSingapore’s buildings are not only architecturally beautiful; some have feng shui elements, namely Suntec City, Marina Bay Sands, Takashimaya, Resorts World Sentosa and the Singapore Flyer.
NUMBERS & FIGURES
716.1 KM2The total land area of Singapore. Singapore is the smallest country in Southeast Asia.
63 islandsBesides its main island, Singapore has this number of tiny islands. Most of them are uninhabited.
280 metresThe height limit for buildings in Singapore, OUB Centre, UOB Plaza One and Republic Plaza are the tallest buildings in Singapore.
The height of Bukit Timah Hill, Singapore's highest hill.
14.1 millionThe total number of visitors to Singapore from Jan-Nov 2013
Year 1915The year Singapore Sling was first served in Singapore at Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar. The cocktail is made up of gin, Cointreau, cherry brandy, Dom Benedictine, pineapple juice, Grenadine, Angoustura bitters and lime.
165 metresThe height of Singapore Flyer, which is equivalent to the height of 31 male giraffes-stacked high.
GMT +8Singapore Time Standard Time is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Singapore follows West Malaysia which matched their time in use with East Malaysia that is GMT+8. However, according to Singapore’s geographical location, time here should be GMT +7.
SINGAPORE DID IT
The Night SafariThe world's first night zoo
Singapore flyerAsia's largest giant observation wheel
Fortune fountainThe world's largest fountain is located at Suntec City. Made of cast bronze, it costs an estimated US$6 million to build in 1997
Man-made waterfallThe world's largest fountain is located at Suntec City. Made of cast bronze, it costs an estimated US$6 million to build in 1997
River Safari SingaporeAsia’s First and only river-themed wildlife park
Formula oneThe world’s first F1 night race was held in Singapore in 2012
Youth Olympic GamesSingapore hosted the first Youth Olympic Games in 2010
Great Singapore Duck RaceAn annual event that raises funds for charity, set a new world record in 2002 when more than 123,000 toy ducks took to the Singapore River
The flying foxThe world's largest bat with a wingspan of up to 1.5m, can be found on Pulau Ubin, one of the islands off mainland Singapore
LIVING LIKE A SINGAPOREAN
Our unofficial language is “Singlish”, where English is mixed with Chinese, Malay and even Tamil. For example, “Aiyoh, why the weather so like dat? Very hot lah.”
Gifts are usually not opened when they are received. As there are cultural differences in how the three main ethnic groups here treat gifts, here are some guidelines:
- Avoid flowers as some types are associated with funerals and death.
- Wrap gifts with red, green or yellow wrapping paper as these colours are regarded well by all ethnic groups.
- Cutting utensils like knives and scissors have connotations of a desire to sever the relationship.
- Clocks, handkerchiefs and straw sandals are associated with funerals and death
- Do not give leather products or alcohol.
- Never give alcohol or anything made of pigskin.
- If you give food, ensure that it's halal.