Kids ASK! about Singapore
We have always called Singapore the little red dot and it is one of those things we take for granted and forget to question. We know Singapore is a small country but why a red dot?
The “red dot” probably comes from the practice of using red dots to indicate the capital cities of countries. The reason for using red is likely to be a practical one as red, given that it is bright and easily noticeable, would be ideal as it stands out from blue, green and white, which are usually used to indicate water, forest and ice respectively.
While Singapore is not the smallest country in the world, it is the smallest country in South East Asia at approximately 637 square kilometers (and growing because of land reclamation). However, Singapore is small relative to many other countries in the world. Even as an island, it is so small that without the red dot indicating the existence of a country at the tip of Peninsular Malaysia, most people would probably not even notice it on a world map.
Therefore, it is with the help of the red dot marker that people are able to identify the country of Singapore on the world map. Over time, Singapore became known as the red dot. The name of “red dot” came from comments from people such as former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie who said, “Look at that map. All the green (area) is Indonesia. And that red dot is Singapore.” As more and more people started to use the red dot to mean Singapore, the word took on the meaning and is even officially recognised in slang dictionaries to mean the island-state of Singapore.
Campbell, M. ((n.d.)). Mapping Conventions. Retrieved October 8, 2007, from Mapping Conventions Web site: http://spot.pcc.edu/~mcampbel/ map.protocols.pdf
Double-Tongued Dictionary, (2006 Feb 14). Little Red Dot: Definition. Retrieved October 8, 2007, from Double-Tongued Dictionary Web site: http://www.doubletongued.org/index.php/ dictionary/little_red_dot/
Tan, A. K.J. (1998 Sep 15). Preliminary Assessment of Singapore’s Environmental Law. Retrieved October 8, 2007, from Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law Web site: http://sunsite.nus.edu.sg/apcel/dbase/ singapore/reports.html
If you want to find out more information on the country of Singapore:
Singapore by Andrew Einspruch
Publisher : Port Melbourne, Vic. : Heinemann, 1997
Call No. : J 959.57 EIN
Discover Singapore with — by Tat Small ; illustrated by Steve Weatherill
Publisher : Singapore : Small Books, 2005
Call No. : JR SING 915.957 SMA
Little red dot comes home by Judith d’Silva ; illustrated by David Tan
Publisher : Singapore : Nexus, 2006
Call No. : J SING 372.83 DSI
Today in history : Singapore
Publisher : Singapore : Ministry of Education, 2005
Call No. : J SING 959.57 TOD
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Question originally answered by Haryani Othman, Librarian, Children’s Services
By Felicia Chan, Librarian, Children’s Services
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