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Singapore History

Asia : Singapore


We can divide Singapore history into three main parts. The first part of Singapore history dates back to its establishment by Malay and Peranakan locals who have made the city into a flourishing business and port city. The second period counts from 1819 when British governor Raffles has found the Island and has made it into a British protectorate. The third period counts from the time when Singapore has become independent from British and has started its great development, the result of which we can see today, in this great modern city that has also conserved its history together with the cultural heritage of locals in the best possible way.


Singapore history dates back to the twelfth century AD, the time when the first written Chinese documents mention the island. It’s name used to be simply the "inland at the back of a peninsula" than later got changed to Singapore when the local prince have seen an animal there, which he has never seen before thinking it was a lion. The state’s name derives from the Sanskrit word meaning Lion and City, so we can translate it as “Lion City”. The famous lion gargoyle the Merlion of Singapore also signifies the importance of Singapore history.


The great geographical setting has always dominated Singapore history. The port of Singapore soon started to welcome boats from all over the world. The time has come for Singapore in the 19th century to become the target of the British Empire, whose troops have already conquered the biggest parts of the whole world. The British governor Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles, who had already Sumatra under his rule first landed in Singapore in 1819 and he instantly saw the great possibilities in this island city and soon started to make the necessary steps into making Singapore a main strategic fort of the British Empire in the Southeast Asian region. Singapore was under British rule officially from 1832 as the centre governing also the regions of the nearby Penang and Malacca regions. Under the British government, soon other settlers arrived in Singapore, from the other British protectorates like India, China and Malaysia in order to start to build a modern British style port-city. Mainly Indian workers have built Singapore and all the beautiful rustic British governing buildings that still operate today. Singapore history has never doomed the British period, under which modern life in Singapore has started to develop. The state has a lot to thank to British and therefore they highly respect the memory of Sir Raffles. Singapore’s status as an international port city has been established and life went on undisturbed.


The great shock arrived in form of the Japanese troops, who have until then already vandalised in many South East Asian islands, during the Second World War, getting assured by the German Empire that they will have Asia under their rule. The Japanese troops broke into Singapore in 1941 and started their fearful ruling with a devastating loss of the British Army troops who in lack of labor were not able to defend Singapore against the thousands of blood hungry Japanese soldiers.  Singapore still bears and does not forget these fearful times they had to bear under the Japanese governing. Japanese army has killed thousands of civilians whose memory is treasured in forms of monuments all across Singapore today. These three and half years count as one of the most important chapters of Singapore history. With Japan capitulating in 1945, Singapore stayed a Crown colony. The end of world war also meant the awakening of anti-imperialist forces and Singapore had become independent in a peaceful way in 1959. Due to the historical and geographical roots they share, Singapore has decided to unite with neighbouring Malaysia and Borneo but due to this merge being unsuccessful, after only 2 years Singapore decided to go independent in 1963 22th December.


Singapore history’s most dominant personality is without doubt Lee Kuan Yew, being the prime minister of Singapore for more than fifty years. He was the one, who with strong will and strong hands has established Singapore to become one of the most dominant Asian hubs of business and commerce. The people of Singapore respect him the most highly to this day. He was president until 2011. His successor is Tony Tan Keng Yam. Singapore history is all around the city in forms of buildings, monuments and of course its locals who work very hard to make their state flourish always. Singapore has the strictest juridical system and the highest rate of execution, as they have English Parliamentary system.