World Facts

What Do the Colors and Symbols of the Flag of Singapore Mean?

The national flag of Singapore was first adopted in 1959.

The flag of Singapore was adopted on December 3, 1959, when the country became a self-governing part of the British Empire. This new flag replaced a British colonial flag. The flag was briefly replaced in 1963 with the flag of Malaysia after joining the Federation of Malaysia, but later reintroduced in 1965 after attaining independence. Other flags flown in the country include the civil, naval, and state ensigns.

Description of the Flag of Singapore

The flag of Singapore features two horizontal stripes, red on top and white on the bottom, which are equal in size. On the hoist side of the red stripe is a white-colored crescent moon that faces the flag’s fly side. Next to the crescent moon are five equally-sized white five-pointed stars that are arranged in the shape of a pentagon. The flag should have a width to height ratio of 3:2.

History of the Flag of Singapore

The national flag was designed by a committee led by Toh Chin Chye, who later became the nation’s Deputy Prime Minister. The team initially envisioned a flag with a red background, but such suggestions were dropped after the team realized that the color had Communist connotations, which was a sensitive issue during the Cold War. Toh Chin Chye's committee eventually developed a design after incorporating suggestions from the public. According to the committee, the moon and stars featured on the flag were selected from proposals offered by the Singapore public. This period also coincided with the passing of the nation’s Flag and National Anthem Ordinance of 1959, which outlined the official use of the national flag. The country adopted the flag after its independence on December 3, 1959, replacing the colonial flag. Singapore’s colonial flag, like its many counterparts, was designed as a blue field with the Union Jack set on the upper left portion of the flag’s hoist. The flag at the time featured three golden crowns, representing Malacca, Penang, and Singapore, which had been grouped together to form a single settlement.

Colors and Symbols of the Flag of Singapore

The colors and symbols on the flag of Singapore have distinct meanings. The white color is said to represent virtue and purity, while red is said to stand for unity, equality, and a sense of brotherhood among all citizens of Singapore. The five white stars represent the ideals of equality, democracy, progress, peace, and justice, while the white crescent moon depicts the young nation of Singapore on the rise. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once stated that the crescent moon and stars were selected by the Muslim and Chinese people in the country. According to Prime Minister Yew, the Muslims in Singapore wanted to include the crescent moon on the flag in honor of Islam, which is the country's dominant religion. However, Singaporeans of Chinese descent, who makes up the majority of the country’s population, suggested the five-star pentagon mirroring that on the national flag of China.

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