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History | Our Origin  

Early written accounts of Singapore had various kinds of names by different people. During the third century, a Chinese referenced Singapore with the name of "Pu-Luo-Chung", which simply meant 'the island at the end of a Peninsular'. In the year 1320, the Mongol court sent someone to a place called Long Yamen, which could be literally translated as Dragon’s Tooth Strait, to get elephants. The place then was probably the present day Keppel Harbour. In the year 1330, a Chinese visitor by the name of Wang Dayuan referred the main settlement as Pancur, which meant ‘Spring’. He also added that at that time, there was already Chinese living there. One of the earliest names of Singapore used in the year 1365 was Temasek, or ‘sea port’. It was found in the Javanese Nagarakretagama’. At a certain Vietnamese source that was found, the same name was also used.

The name of Singapura comes from a Malay legend. The island had its name from a Sumatran Prince who visited the island in the 14th century. When he reaches the island, he saw a fearsome creature, which is actually a lion. Thinking that this was a good omen, the prince founded a new city on the spot and changed the name from Temasek to Singapura. In Sanskrit, "singa" means lion and "pura" means city. Thus the Lion City was born. The symbol of merlion - a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish - reminds Singaporean's of the early connections to this legend and the seas.

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