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Located in the east of Singapore, Tanah Merah is made up of largely private residential properties, country clubs, and some light industrial parks. When land reclamation works began in the early 1970s, most of the coastal hills were levelled and dumped into the sea to create the present East Coast and the East Coast Parkway was constructed almost completely on reclaimed land. The location of Tanah Merah Kechil cliff is where Temasek Primary School now stands and it is possible to see where the hills abruptly end at the junction of Bedok South Avenue 3 and Upper East Coast Road at one end, and New Upper Changi Road at the other end.
Tanah Merah is a Malay phrase that translates into "red soil". Tanah Merah was once a hilly area with two prominent cliffs: Tanah Merah Besar, a large cliff, and Tanah Merah Kechil, a small cliff. The roads leading to the cliffs were named Tanah Merah Besar Road and Tanah Merah Kechil Road respectively. The names remain today.
The area is also home to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal with regular services to the Indonesian Riau Islands.