Five National Icons Of Singapore You May Not Know

Five National Icons Of Singapore You May Not Know
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Soon, it will be the time of the year to hang our flags and publicly display our patriotism through car sleeves, or wearing red and white. National Day is a month away! We have a list of national icons, official and unofficial, you may now know. These are also conversation starters with your children or friends from foreign lands.

Take a look and see which ones you are familiar with.


Singapore’s National Icons

Singapore’s National Bird – The Crimson Sunbird

Singapore’s National Bird – The Crimson Sunbird

Do you know what Singapore’s national bird is? There is a joke about the crane (as in a construction crane) being most commonly seen in Singapore. The unofficial answer is: The Crimson Sunbird!


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The Crimson Sunbird was declared National Bird of Singapore when the public was invited to vote at Nature Society (Singapore) 1st Nature Day. Over a thousand people voted and the Crimson Sunbird came up tops with strong contenders like White-bellied Sea-eagle and Black-naped Oriole getting votes as well. Interestingly, Sir Stamford Raffles was the one who collected and named the Crimson Sunbird and even published the findings in a journal.


Our National Flower – Vanda Miss Joaquim

Our National Flower – Vanda Miss Joaquim

This is probably known by most. How the Vanda Miss Joaquim came to be Singapore’s much cherished National Flower is a story that few may be familiar with. In 1981, Vanda Miss Joqauim was selected as Singapore’s National Flower among 40 flowers which were mostly orchids. We are the only country to have a hybrid as our national flower!

Agnes Joaquim was the Armenian lady residing in Singapore who successfully cross cultivated the Vanda hookeriana and Vanda teres to breed Vanda Miss Joaquim. She was an avid gardener and horticulturist who won many prizes at flower shows. Vanda Miss Joaquim was successfully bed around 1890.

One can admire the Vanda Miss Joaquim at several places, including Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Gardens, Armenian Church where Miss Agnes Joaquim’s headstone can be found and the Vanda Miss Joaquim pavilion.


Singapore’s National Tree – The Tembusu

Singapore’s National Tree – The Tembusu

Nature Society also polled people on our unofficial national tree – the winner was the Tembusu. It is a large evergreen tree native to Singapore. It has large, stretching, low-lying branches and can be seen on the five-dollar note.

Botanic Garden Tree

The iconic tree in Singapore Botanic Gardens was also the one that lent one of its branches to be a seat or a climbing structure for the young. It is probably one of Singapore’s most photographed trees. It has since been fenced up for protection to this heritage tree. It is hard-wooded and can thrive on very poor soils, it also bears fragrant flowers that attract moths in the evening.


National Butterfly – The Common Rose

National Butterfly – The Common Rose
Image: Butterflies of Singapore blog

In a contest held by Nature Society Singapore, the Common Rose butterfly emerged as Singapore’s national butterfly

Sadly, it is nearly extinct. It has red dots and white streaks on its wings just like the stars and crescent on the Singapore flag.


Singapore’s National Dish – Chicken Rice

Singapore’s National Dish – Chicken Rice
Image by Jason Goh from Pixabay

Chicken rice is an iconic dish, perhaps unofficially Singapore’s national dish. It was adapted from the early immigrants from Hainan. Who doesn’t love the aromatic rice cooked in chicken stock, tender juicy chicken paired with flavourful chilli, ginger paste and dark soy sauce?


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