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Singapore is one of those popular tourist destinations, especially for us in India. For those who can afford it, it is one of the first destinations to be picked for a family vacation. It is affordable, kid-friendly, old people-friendly and teenage-friendly. The places to visit in Singapore are endless, from Sentosa to China Town, Little India to Universal Studios, quaint Arab Street to the elite Marina Bay Sands. Eating out in Singapore is a popular activity in itself with gastronomic tours popping up by the dozen; the Singapore Tourism board organizes the highly popular Singapore Food Festival every year.

Well, but most of that we all know. I’ve been to Singapore and here are a bunch of things that I never knew; they are not really mentioned in tourist guides and manuals.

10 fun things you probably didn’t know about Singapore

1. Singapore is actually a Sanskrit name, ‘Singha + Pura’ that literally translates to ‘Lion City’. So a 14th century Sumatran prince, Sang Nila Utama, alighted on the island amidst a thunderstorm and renamed it Singapura (from Temasuk) after spotting an auspicious beast identified as a lion by his chief minister who was on board his ship. Recent studies of Singapore indicate that lions have never lived there, thus the beast that was seen by Sang Nila Utama was most likely a tiger. So technically, it’s got to be ‘Tiger City’ and the Merlion should be a Mertiger.

2. It lies exactly 1degree north of the Equator

3. The state is so notoriously over-regulated, you can get arrested for more than 40,000 illegal offences in Singapore, including leaving still water lying around in your house or forgetting to lock your bicycle.

4. There’s always been this talk of no chewing gum in Singapore but did you know that it is actually banned by the government? All import, sale and possession of chewing gum has been illegal since 1992. They’ve recently started allowing prescription gum, only available at pharmacies.

5. The national anthem ‘Majura Singapura’ is sung in Malay.

6. Pornography is illegal. And walking around your own home in the nude is considered pornographic. Double check that all the curtains are drawn.

7. Chinatown was call the ‘Place of Nightless Days’ (Bu Ye Tian), owing to the countless brothels and gambling/opium dens. Imagine putting that in a tourist guide to Chinatown! Today, it is a touristy place overflowing with families and kids.

8. The world’s highest man-made waterfall and the largest fountain in the world are both located in Singapore. The waterfall,standing at 30 metres, is at theJurong BirdPark. The fountain, at Suntec Cit, made of cast bronze cost an estimated US$6 million to build in 1997.

9. Words from Singlish, a Singaporean patois mixing English with the odd phrase of Chinese, Malay and even Tamil, are included in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary.

10. Singapore is the world’s largest exporter of ornamental fish (25% of the world market).

Here 2 extra ones:

11.  Singapore has mangroves; and you can go kayaking in them.

12.  Singapore is one of the 20 smallest countries in the world, and is categorized as an Alpha+ in the Global Cities Index, ahead of both Bombay and New Delhi.

As the newest member of the content team, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

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