Friday, 11 July 2014

Singapore’s Armenian Heritage

Armenia’s difficult physical conditions saw enterprising merchants move abroad from the 19th century, many landing in Asia, including a few in Singapore. The community here numbered merely around 100 families at its peak, but the people left a a disproportionate imprint on Singaporean culture and heritage. Here are a few of the contributions the Armenian diaspora made.

Early Armenian traders tended to conduct business in their offices located near the centre of Singapore — there’s still an Armenian Street, where the Peranakan Museum is located. Martin and Tigran Sarkies opened the legendary Raffles Hotel in 1887; more than a century later, Raffles remains an iconic Singapore landmark and drinking a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar remains on a must-do list of many a traveller.

The grand dame of Singapore hotels has hosted writers such as Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham and was gazetted as a national monument in 1987.

Martin and Tigran Sarkies were Armenian brothers who became prominent hoteliers in the region

The Armenian Apostolic Church of St Gregory the Illuminator

Singapore owes its national flower’s name to horticulturist Ashkhen Hovakimian/Joaquim

The Vanda Miss Joaquim, Singapore’s national flower

The Straits Times has come a long way since its 1845 founding by an Armenian

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