Here's the legend of how Singapura was founded:
Sang Nila Utama was a prince of Sumatra. Wanting to find a suitable place for a new city, he decided to visit the islands off the coast of Sumatra. He set sail from Palembang (a city in Sumatra) in a number of ships. He and his men reached Riau Island and were welcomed by the queen. A few days later, Sang Nila Utama went to a nearby island on a hunting trip.
While hunting, he spotted a deer and started chasing it. He came to a very large rock and decided to climb it. When he reached the top, he looked across the sea and saw another island with a sandy beach which had the appearance of a white sheet of cloth.
Asking one of his ministers what land it was, he was told that it was the island of Temasek. He then decided to visit Temasek. However, when his ship was out at sea, a great storm blew up and the ship was tossed about in the huge waves. The ship began to take water.
To prevent it from sinking, his men threw all the heavy things on board into the sea to lighten the ship. But still water kept entering the ship and Sang Nila Utama, on advice of a ship's officer, threw his heavy crown overboard. At once, the storm died down and he reached Temasek safely.
He landed at the mouth of the present-day Singapore River and went inland to hunt wild animals. Suddenly, he saw a strange animal with a red body, black head and a white breast. It was a fine-looking animal and moved with great speed as it disappeared into the jungle.
He asked his chief minister what animal it was, and was told that it probably was a lion. He was pleased with this as he believed it to be a good omen - a sign of good fortune coming his way. Thus, he decided to build his new city in Temasek. He and his men stayed on the island and founded a city.
He named this city "Singapura". "Singa" means lion and "pura" means city. The name thus means the Lion City. Sang Nila Utama ruled Singapura for 48 years and was buried on Bukit Larangan (present-day Fort Canning Hill). By that time, Singapura had developed into a great and famous city.