What does the Merlion represent?

Ans: The choice of the Merlion as a symbol for Singapore has its roots in history. The Merlion commemorates the ancient name and the legend taken from the "Malay Annals" (literary and historical work from the 15th or 16th century) explaining how Singapore received its present name.

In ancient times, Singapore was known as Temasek, which is Javanese for the sea. It was then as it is today, a centre of trade.

At the end of the 4th century A.D., Temasek was destroyed by the Siamese, according to some historians, but by the Javanese, according to others. As recorded in the legend in the "Malay Annals," Prince Nila Utama of the Sri Vijaya empire rediscovered the island later in the 11th century A.D. On seeing a strange beast (which he later learnt was a lion) upon his landing he named the island Singapura which is a Sanskrit word for Lion (Singa) City (Pura).

The Merlion, with its fish-like body riding the waves of the sea, is symbolic of the ancient city of Temasek. At the same time, its majestic head recalls the legend of the discovery of the Singapore by Prince Nila Utama in the 11th century, when Singapore received its present name.

For more information visit History and Origins of Singapore