Top 5 surprising facts about Singapore

Singapore hosted an enormous party to celebrate 50 years of independence. On Sunday 9th August, Singapore commemorated five decades of independence from Malaysia and hosted the biggest and most expensive celebration the country has ever seen.

The national party - SG50 - had  its own logo that organisers claim embodied the Singaporean spirit "signifying that our dreams are not limited by the physical size of our island nation".

Costing almost £9.6 million, the extravaganza was held on the historic Padang and on the beautiful waterfront, where more than 150,000 people convened and participated.

Some 12,000 organisers and crew have been involved in putting together the spectacular national event, which included a nine-day light display, a book-giving ceremony, a fighter jet display, concerts and a carnival.

The national day is perceived as a special moment to look back on Singapore's history and celebrate the progress it has made since securing its independence on 9th August 1965.  It is a nation that is clearly very proud of its heritage and culture. 

Here are five facts that you may not know about Singapore.

Fastest walkers in the world

The people of Singapore don't like to dilly-dally when they've got places to be, as the nation is home to the fastest walkers in the world, according to a study from the University of Hertfordshire. Out of 32 countries, Singaporeans were found to have the quickest pace when out and about. Researchers timed how long it took 35 men and women to walk 18 metres, ignoring anyone distracted by a phone or weighed down by shopping bags. Those from Singapore took 10.55 seconds to walk the distance, compared to the 10.89 in Madrid, 11.03 in Dublin and 12 in New York.  

There are no lions in Lion City

With a name like Lion City, you would expect the place to be full of the big cats in zoos and sanctuaries. But this is not the case, the city has never actually been home to any prides. The name stems from the 13th century, when an Indonesian king saw a creature he believed to be a lion and named it Singapura, which means Lion City in Sanskrit. While there are no real lions in the city, the Merlion has become Singapore's mascot.

A hug can get you a bottle of Coca-Cola

While many other cities in the world can claim to have the biggest building or shopping mall, only Singapore lets you exchange a hug for a Coke. The city is home to the globe's only 'Hug Me' Coca-Cola machine, which dispenses bottles when a person wraps their arms around it. This means you can quench your thirst for the price of a simple hug.

Chewing gum is illegal

Have you ever stood or sat in chewing gum and cursed its existence? Well, Singapore could be your ideal place to live or holiday, as the confectionery has been banned since 1992. Actually, you can chew it, but it's illegal to import or sell it, so you would need to visit some sort of black market specialising in gum or get it prescribed by a doctor. It was outlawed because vandals kept sticking it over door sensors on trains to stop them from functioning properly, which disrupted services. The punishment for gum trafficking is a fine of up to £49,000 and a maximum jail sentence of two years.

Cartoon Network doesn't know where Singapore is

Despite being independent for 40 years at the time, Cartoon Network released an episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends in 2005 that revealed it believed Singapore was in Malaysia. In an argument between the characters Mac and Terrence, the former tells the latter that the city is in Malaysia, despite it being an independent country off the coast of the Malay Peninsula.