Isles and Their Stories: A Study of Three Islands of the Singapore Archipelago

Shaun Tyan Gin LIM, Francesco PERONO CACCIAFOCO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper studies three Singaporean islands (with their original Malay names in brackets): St. John’s Island (Pulau Sakijang Bendera), Sentosa (Pulau Blakang Mati), and Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon). Using primary sources, such as maps and newspapers, and secondary sources, like books on Singaporean toponymy, the authors trace these place names across time. The toponyms conform to the broader trend of naming patterns of Singaporean toponyms. More importantly, the facilities, land uses, and histories of the three islands dovetail with pertinent aspects of Singapore’s history and, more broadly, with global discussions on linguistic toponymies and geographies. Through this research, it is evident that the toponyms, or place names, along with their connected stories, are inextricably linked to the history, languages, cultures, and societies of the places they name. This paper ultimately aims to be a starting point for further research on Singapore’s island names, an area that has received scant attention in Singaporean toponymy thus far.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-60
Number of pages23
JournalReview of Historical Geography and Toponomastics
Issue number31-32
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2021


  • Toponymy
  • Singapore History
  • Island Names
  • Singapore Archipelago
  • Toponomastics


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