Brief summary history of Singapore
A brief tour of the history of Singapore, in a summarized way.
The Singapore Foundation
According to legend, Singapore was founded centuries ago when a Sumatran prince landed on the island and saw a lion. He took it as a good omen and founded a city called Singaporea, which means lion city. The legend may or may not be true. In fact, the name Singapura was not recorded until the 16th century and Singapore was actually just a trading post with a small population and not a city.
Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles (1781-1826). Raffles became an employee of the British East India Company in 1795. He quickly rose in the company. In 1805 he was sent to Penang and in 1811 he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Java.
In 1818 Sorteos was appointed governor of Bencoolen on the island of Sumatra. Raffles believed that the British should establish a base in the Straits of Melaka and in 1819 he landed on the island of Singapore. The island consisted of swamps and jungle with a small population, but Raffles realized that it could become a useful port.
At the time two men were vying to become sultans of the Johor Empire, which controlled Singapore. In 1812 the sultan died and his two sons quarreled over the succession. The raffles supported the older brother Hussein and recognized him as sultan.
Raffles made a deal with him. The British East India Company received Singapore in return for an annual payment. In 1824 the Company received the island in exchange for a lump sum of money.
The British established a new trading post in Singapore and it grew very quickly. In addition to Europeans, Malays, Chinese, Indians, and Arabs came to live and work there. In 1824 the population had increased to 10,000 inhabitants.
In 1826 Singapore joined Melaka and Penang to form the Straits Settlements. In 1867 Singapore became a Crown colony governed directly by the British government rather than the East India Company. By 1870 the population of Singapore had grown to 100,000.
Many great buildings were built in Singapore in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Among them was the Victoria Theater & Concert Hall, built in 1862.
Several temples were built around this time, including the Thian Hock Keng Temple, which was built in 1842. The Sri Mariamman Temple was first built in 1823, but was rebuilt in 1843. The Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple was built in 1855. The Leong San See Temple was built in 1917. The Gaya Sakya Muni Buddha Temple was built in 1927.
When the Suez Canal was built in 1869, Singapore became even more important as a “gateway” between Europe and East Asia.
In the early 20th century, Singapore continued to prosper. Large quantities of rubber and tin from the region were exported from Singapore. Meanwhile, Chinese immigrants continued to arrive.
Then in January 1942 the Japanese conquered Malaysia. On February 15, 1942, Singapore was forced to surrender. The Japanese called Singapore Yonan, which means Light of the South, but their rule was tyrannical. Thousands of Chinese Singaporeans were executed.
However, after 1945, Singapore slowly moved towards independence. In 1946 the Straits Settlements were dissolved and Singapore was separated from Malaysia. The People’s Action Party was formed in 1954 and proved to be a major force in Singapore politics.
In 1955 a new constitution was introduced. Under it, 25 of the 32 members of the legislature were elected. In 1957 it was replaced by a 51-member elected legislature. The People’s Action Party, led by Lee Kuan Yew, won 43 of the 51 seats. Self-government was granted in 1959. Lee Kuan Yew became Prime Minister.
In 1963 Singapore joined Malaysia. However, the union was short-lived. Singapore left in 1965 and became fully independent.
From 1965 to the 1990s, Singapore enjoyed rapid economic growth. In the 1990s it was a newly industrialized country and people had a high standard of living. However, the government was authoritarian and society was strictly controlled.
In 1990 Lee Kuan Yew resigned as prime minister. He was replaced by Goh Chok Tong. He introduced a more liberal regime. Today Singapore is a prosperous nation and its economy is constantly growing. Singapore is also a very busy port. Today, the population of Singapore is 5.6 million.
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