OWL Magazine Korea

Origin of Singapore’s Name: The Lion City “Singapore”

The name of the small city-state of Singapore, situated at the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula, has its roots in Malay, specifically “Singapura.” Even today, in Malay, Singapore is referred to as “Singapura.”

“The Lion City, Singapore”

This name is derived from Sanskrit, “Siṃhapura,” meaning “Lion City.” According to Singaporean legend, Prince Sang Nila Utama of the Srivijaya Kingdom in Indonesia arrived here after drifting ashore. Observing a lion on the beach, he named the place “Singapura.”

However, scholars suggest that lions weren’t native to Singapore at that time; instead, it was home to many tigers. Hence, it’s speculated that the prince might have mistaken a tiger for an unfamiliar type of lion.

“Another Name for Singapore, Temasek”

Singapore is also known as “Temasek,” meaning “sea town.” This name is now primarily associated with “Temasek Holdings,” Singapore’s sovereign wealth company, and is less commonly used elsewhere.

“The Legendary Animal of Singapore, Merlion”

The symbol of Singapore and a creature from legend is the “Merlion,” a mythical animal with the upper body of a lion and the lower body of a fish.

Merlion statues can be found in various locations across Singapore. The most famous one is located at “Merlion Park” in Marina Bay, considered the heart of Singapore tourism.

You can find Merlion statues at a total of 5 locations in Singapore, including the original Merlion, Baby Merlion, Merlion at Sentosa Island, Merlion at Singapore Tourism Board, and Merlion at Faber Point. Check the map below to locate them:

“Merlion Statues in Singapore”

  1. Merlion (Original Merlion): Located at Merlion Park on the main island of Singapore. A prominent tourist attraction.
  2. Merlion Cub: A small Merlion about 2 meters tall, located behind the original Merlion.
  3. Merlion (Sentosa Island): A giant Merlion on Sentosa Island, standing at 37 meters tall.
  4. Flammable Merlion at Singapore Tourism Board: A 3-meter-tall Merlion at the Singapore Tourism Board.
  5. Flammable Merlion at Faber Point: A 3-meter-tall Merlion at Faber Point.

Here we’ve explored the origin of the name “Singapore” and the iconic symbol of Singapore, the “Merlion.” Knowing these details before your trip can enhance your experience in Singapore.