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The Merlion

Over the years, the Merlion symbol has become well-known through its wide use and has come to be identified with Singapore.
With the change of the Board's corporate identity in 1997, a new corporate logo was adopted. The Merlion continues to be a symbol protected under the Singapore Tourism Board Act.

Use of Merlion Symbol
  1. Souvenir Product
    (Except for Food Product or Food Packaging - please see the procedure at point 2 below)
    The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) grants permission for use of the merlion symbol or a symbol or representation resembling it (the "Merlion Symbol") to an individual, organisation or company ("User") on the terms and conditions set out in the guidelines below:
    • The Merlion Symbol is to be used in good taste.

    • The Merlion Symbol is to be reproduced in full.

    • Wordings, graphics or objects are not to block or be superimposed over the design of the Merlion Symbol.

    • As the Merlion Symbol is a protected symbol under the STB Act (Cap 305B), the STB will not grant to anyone the exclusive right to its use.

    • All intellectual property rights (including design rights or copyright, trade mark rights and other forms of intellectual property rights) interest and title in the Merlion Symbol, shall vest in the STB. If and where it does not, the User agrees that in consideration of the permitted use by the STB, the User assigns all such rights to the STB with immediate effect.

    • The Merlion Symbol cannot be used:
      • in any trademark.

      • as part of a logo e.g. in letterhead of the company.

      • in association with or in promotion activities which are illegal or likely to debase The Merlion or embarrass the image of STB or Singapore.

      If the use is found to contravene any of the guidelines, upon notification by the STB, such use is to cease immediately.

    No application form is required for the use of the Merlion Symbol in souvenir products.

  2. Food Product or Food Product Packaging and All Other Types of Use
    An application form needs to be submitted for the use of the Merlion Symbol in food products, food product packaging and all other types of use.
    Please click here for the application form for the use of the Merlion Symbol.
For Merlion images, please visit the Digital Library at

The Merlion and its Significance
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 Singapore by Prince Nila Utama in the 11th century, when Singapore received its present name.

The Merlion at the Merlion Park

The Merlion was first built as an eight-metre tall sculpture in 1972 and was located at the mouth of the Singapore River to "welcome all visitors to Singapore". Built by a local craftsman, Lim Nang Seng, who won several prizes in the Singapore Handicraft and Design competition organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (then known as the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board) in 1970, it was commissioned for approximately $165,000 in 1971, and formally installed on 15 September 1972 by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the then Prime Minister.
The Merlion, a symbol to welcome all visitors to Singapore, has since moved. On 15 September 2002, it settled into its new home at Merlion Park, located next to One Fullerton, overlooking scenic Marina Bay, with the park opened by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Last updated on 11 November 2010

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