The flag of Singapore was adopted on December 3, 1959, when Singapore became a self-governing nation within the British Empire. When Singapore gained true independence on August 9, 1965, the flag was officially declared that national banner. The flag is rectangular and divided into two horizontal fields: the top half is red and the bottom half is white. On the left side of the red field is a crescent moon facing five small white five-pointed stars.
The flag of Singapore’s colors and images have symbolic meaning. The red represents “universal brotherhood and equality of man.” The white stands for “pervading and everlasting purity and virtue.” The crescent moon, an important Islamic symbol, represents a young country ascending towards greatness. The stars represent five important national ideals: democracy, peace, progress, justice, and equality.
In the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, Singapore was under British rule and part of the Straits Settlements, which included Singapore, Malacca, and Penang. During this time, Singapore used a Blue Ensign that included a British flag in the upper left corner and a red and white symbol on the right side with three crowns on it. During World War II, Singapore was controlled by Japan and flew the Japanese flag.
After World War II ended, Singapore began developing its own flag. The flag was designed in 1959 in just two months and represents a compromise between a several religious and political views. The flag committee initially wanted a flag with an entirely red background, but eventually decided against it because of red’s communist implications in the 1950s. After deciding on a red and white flag, Singapore needed to distinguish itself from countries such as Indonesia, Poland, and Monaco, countries that also flew red and white flags. The Chinese constituency in Singapore advocated for five stars, like the flag of the People’s Republic of China; the Muslim constituency wanted a crescent moon. The inclusion of both symbols represents both populations in Singapore.