History of Singapore

Discover the fascinating history of Singapore

Singapore was originally known as Temasek and was an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya Empire. The earliest records of its role in this position have been found in 3rd century Chinese texts. From those relatively humble beginnings, Temasek continued to expand until it became a major trading city. However, this city eventually fell into a decline and all that remains today of the old Temasek are a few ruins.

The 15th and 16th centuries were a busy time in the history of Singapore which was by then part of the Sultanate of Johore. In 1617, Singapore bore witness to the Malay-Portugal wars and was set ablaze by Portuguese troops. Two centuries later in 1819, a treaty was made between the Sultan of Johore and the British East Indian Company whereby Singapore was established as a trading post and settlement. However, because it was strategically located along busy shipping routes between Europe and China, its importance soon grew and it became a center of trade.

World War II saw the Japanese invade Malaya. The British were completely unprepared for the attack and surrendered at the Battle of Singapore in 1942. The Japanese chose to rename Singapore to Syonanto. They maintained their authority over the area until the end of the war and Japan's subsequent defeat in 1945. Not long after, Singapore became a self-governing crown colony. Lee Kuan Yew became the first Prime Minister in the country after being elected in 1959. Singapore was then admitted into the Federation of Malaysia as a state with autonomous powers in 1963 which it remained a part of until it's expulsion in 1965. Two days after this it Singapore gained official sovereignty and Malaysia became the first country to recognize it as an independent nation. To this day 9 August is the date of Singapore's National Day which is celebrated annually with parades and festivities.

However things were not easy going in the beginning. Though the country had seen good trade due to its geographical location over the years, it still faced problems such as high unemployment rates, housing shortages and a lack of natural resources and space - especially now that it was a newly declared independent nation. From 1959 to 1990, the local prime minister put a lot of effort into solving these problems with some remarkable success. The standard of living was raised, economic problems were solved and the country even developed a national defense force. Thus, Singapore began to be seen as a developing nation.


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