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The Merlion of Singapore

March 30th, 2012


Photo credit: Pittaya Sroilong on Flickr

Headed to Singapore? Chances are you will find yourself face to face with the country’s national symbol – the Merlion. The mythical creature with the head of a lion and body of a fish has been used as a mascot of Singapore since the mid 1960s.

So, what’s the story? The symbology behind the statue is steeped in the history and culture of the country – the “fish” tail represents Singapore’s origins as a fishing village when it was called Temasek (which means “sea town” in Javanese), and the lion head represents Singapore’s orginal name – Singapura – meaning “lion city” or “kota singa”.

Although the official logo of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) was officially changed in 1997, the STB continue to protect the symbol. In fact, while Merlion likenesses can be found across the country in the form of statues and souveniers, there are actually only five merlion statues that are recognized by the STB.

  • The 8.6 metre-tall original statue that can be found at Merlion Park
  • A two-metre-tall cub statue, which stands behind the original
  • A 37-metre-tall replica – complete with Mouth Gallery Viewing Deck on the ninth storey and one on its head – at Sentosa Island
  • A three-metre-tall polymarble state at Tourism Court
  • A three-metre-tall polymarble state placed on Mount Faber’s Faber Point

In addition, a recognized Merlion statue can be found at the Merlion Restuarant in Cupertino, California, USA.

If you’re planing a visit to Singapore, make sure to check out our article Singapore: Small, Prosperous and Stable

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