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The History of Singapore

  1. Michael Filippone
  2. Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

The History of Singapore

Credit: Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

The History of Singapore

The island nation now known as Singapore was first settled during the 2nd century. When Singapore was part of the Sumatran Srivijaya Empire, a visiting dignitary named the island Singapura. The Malaysian word means lion city. The prince chose the name because he thought that these animals inhabited the land.

The Portuguese seized control of the island in 1613, but Dutch traders soon established their dominance at seaports in the region. Sir Stamford Raffles formulated a plan to counter their influence. The British entered into a treaty with the ruling Sultan that enabled Raffles to establish a trading post for the British East India Company. This 1819 event is considered a defining moment in modern Singapore history.

Sir Raffles selected the island because it was on the tip of the Malay Peninsula and had a natural deep-water harbor. This location was strategically located along the east-west trade routes. Sir Raffles created the plans for the city that included demarcation boundaries for the various ethnic neighborhoods within the community. Many of these lines exist today. In 1824, Raffles bought the island from the Sultan. Singapore became a British crown colony in 1867.

The nation experienced many dramatic events in the middle to late 20thcentury. During the Second World War, the Japanese captured and occupied the country. The colony formed an alliance with Malaysia in 1957 in order to gain independence from Britain. This collaboration ended in 1965, and Singapore became an independent nation.

Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the foundation was laid for Singapore to become one of the four Asian Tiger economies. Despite having few natural resources, Singapore has grown to become one of the most prosperous nations in the world. This gateway to Southeast Asia boasts one of the wealthiest per capita incomes in the region. Singapore has the world’s second busiest container port, the third largest oil refinery and the fourth largest foreign exchange center. Singapore also has renowned education and medical systems as well as an award-winning airport.

The nation has grown from a small colonial trading post into one of the most energetic economies in the world. It is a cosmopolitan mix of traditional and contemporary Malay, Indian, Chinese and western cultures. Modern skyscrapers interspersed with Victorian architecture, temples and historic sites reflect the nation’s storied past and vibrant future.

The History of Singapore.

Michael Filippone

About the Author: Michael Filippone

Michael Filippone has traveled throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia. Each year he travels several hundred thousand miles. He regularly visits Singapore for business and has a great love of the Orient.

His favorite things are morning runs in big cities and getting lost. He has a great passion for all things that are water-sport related: paddle surfing, surfing, free diving, fishing, rowing… Here you will find his musings on everything from where to go get lost on a jungle adventure to a road-trip in Thailand to a romantic cruise weaving through the Indonesian archipelago. Here too are hand-selected articles penned for him by writers he likes on the best places to go from Singapore. As well as being one of the key drivers behind setting up Singapore.com, he runs and part-owns Asia.com – a travel site on all things happening in the wider region. Michael is known to be fond of skipping rope and other than the odd beer, his preferred beverage is coconut water. He loves to fish and play volleyball with his children. He trained as an Olympic rower and loves to see his children find their way in sports and life.

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