Singapore - History
The earliest history of Singapore is relatively unknown. One of the first mentions of Singapore dates back to the third century where it was described in a Chinese account as Pu-luo-chung or “Island at the end of the peninsula”. The first known settlements were established by the end of the thirteenth century and were known as Temasek or “Sea Town”.
By the 14th century, the name of the country had changed. Legend states that Sang Nila Utama, a prince from Palembang spotted an animal he had never seen before whilst out on a hunting trip. Believing the animal to be a lion, he christened the land Singapura literally Lion City, from the Sanskrit words “simha” (lion) and “pura” (city). It is highly unlikely that it was in fact a lion that the prince saw as they have never been found in the country, many historians and scientists believe it was most likely a tiger, however, the name has endured to this day. During this time, Singapura was ruled by five kings. As it was located at the bottom tip of the Malay Peninsula, it became a natural stop on many sea routes and as a result of this, flourished as a popular trading post.
Western interest in Malaysia began in the 16th century when the Portuguese came and established a trading post on the west coast in Melaka, however, modern day Singapore was not founded until the 18th century. Britain recognised that Singapore was an up and coming port which would not only be valuable for trade but also as a place for British merchants to regroup and restock their ships. Britain also wanted to establish a presence before the Dutch could. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived in 1819 and helped to negotiate treaties between the rulers of Singapore. He helped to set the country up as a valuable trading station and the policy of free trade that existed there was very attractive to merchants from all over Asia as well as the United States and the Middle East.
By 1832, Singapore had become the centre of government for the Straits Settlement of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. As trade began to increase significantly between East and West, Singapore’s geographical location ensured it was at the centre of various trade routes. By 1860, the population had grown from only approximately 150 people in 1819 to more than 80,000 comprising of a mixture of Chinese, Indian and Malay workers.
The Second World War saw Singapore attract attention from the Japanese and the country was attacked in December of 1941. The people of Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942 and were occupied for the next three and a half years. This period in Singapore’s history was one of great oppression and loss of life. When the Japanese surrendered in 1945, control of the nation was handed to the British Military and in March 1946, it became a crown colony. The time after Japanese occupation was marked by high unemployment, poor economic growth and general social unrest that ignited a political awakening.
In 1959, the sense of nationalism that was growing in Singapore led to self-government and the country’s first general election. The People’s Action Party (PAP) won the majority and Lee Kuan Yew became the first Prime Minister of Singapore. In 1963, Singapore joined with Malaya, Sarawek and North Borneo to form Malaysia, however this union proved unsuccessful and on 9 August 1965, Singapore left Malaysia. In December of that year, the country became an independent republic.
Lee Kuan Yew and his government were interested in promoting export-orientated industrialisation and desperately wanted to attract foreign investment. They were successful and by 1972, one-quarter of the manufacturing firms found in Singapore were either foreign owned or were co-owned with companies from the US and Japan. The late 1970s saw a shift to information technology and by 1989, Singapore was the world’s largest producer of disk drives and parts.
Recent years have seen a massive push towards tourism, trying to entice visitors to stay for longer than just a stopover. Singapore has invested heavily in tourist attractions including casinos, resorts as well as hosting international events like the reestablishment of the Singapore Grand Prix.
Singapore Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Singapore.
Learn about the history and culture of Singapore, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Singapore's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Singapore for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Singapore tours today!
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