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The History of Singapore

Singapore is a small island located below Malaysia in Southeast Asia. It has a land area of 707 square kilometers but is one of the most successful countries in the world. This is mainly due to its geographical location along the major sea route between India and China.

The History of Singapore



During the 14th century, a Prince from Palembang, the capital of Srivijaya, named Sang Nila Utama, saw an animal that was unique and he had never witnessed it before. It was during his hunting trip when he had an idea. He believed that it was a good symbol and hence named the island “Singapura” or “The Lion City”.

As Singapore was located at the bottom of the Malay Peninsula, a strategic location for trades, the city prospered and flourished as a trading headquarters for the Chinese, Arab, Portuguese and Buginese.



Singapore turned modern in the 19th century when a man, named Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, came to the island. He saw that Singapore was the perfect location for the British empire to expand and set up its base. It was on 29 January 1819, when Raffles, the Lieutenant Governor of Bencoolen in Sumatra, arrived on Singapore. With his foresight and efficiency, Raffles quickly grew the country into an attractive trading spot for many countries such as China, India, etc.

He also implemented the Raffles Town Plan in 1822, in which he separated the Singapore into 4 parts:

  • Eurasians and wealthy Asians living in European Town.
  • Chinese living in Chinatown.
  • Indians living in Chulia Kampong
  • Malays, Muslims and Arabs living in Kampong Glam.

He also built a bridge or causeway linking Singapore to Johor Bahru in 1924. There were also other successful achievements done by Raffles including the development of important banks, commercial organisation, etc.


World War II

However, during the World War II, that commenced on 8 December 1941, Japanese invaders came from the north and took over the entire country. The Allied forces lost and surrendered on 15 February 1942. Singapore was then renamed as Syonan-to or “Light of the South Island”. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said that it was the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.

After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, which was 3 years later, Singapore was returned to the British Military Administration. The country suffered grave issues of high unemployment rate, stagnant commercial growth, destroyed buildings, riots, and insufficient housing.



In 1959, the People’s Action Party, also known as PAP, successfully won a majority of 43 seats in Singapore’s first general election. Lee Kuan Yew, a Cambridge educated lawyer, became the first Prime Minister of Singapore. With his leadership, he was proficient and capable in attracting international inbound investments.

In 1963, Malaysia was formed and it consisted of the Federation of Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore. Shortly after 2 years, things did not work out and Singapore left the federation after a major disagreement between the People’s Action Party and the Kuala Lumpur government.

It was on the 9 August 1965 when Singapore officially gained independence. It is now known as the National Day of Singapore today. back then, Yusof Bin Ishak was appointed as the first president, while Lee Kuan Yew remain as the Prime Minister until 1990.


Till Today

The History of Singapore - Till Today

After gaining independence in 1965, a huge industrialization program was implemented to boost the industrial sector of Singapore. It created the Jurong industrial estate, Tanjong Rhu, Redhill, Tanglin, Kallang Park, Tiong Bahru.

In the 1970s, Singapore government shifted its focus to skill and technology industries. This is the direct opposite of the previous specialization in labour-intensive manufacturing skills. In fact, Singapore became the world’s biggest creators of disk drives in 1989.

In the 1980s, Singapore changed its direction towards international and financial services sectors. It contributed to around 25% of the country’s GDP then.

In the 1990s, the nation had more than 650 multinational companies and thousands of financial organisations. The country began to gain reputation and fame all around the world for its impressive growth rate.

On 12 August 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the third Prime Minister of Singapore. He remained as the leader of Singapore till today.

With a population of 5.3 million, 3.2 million are Singapore Citizens and 0.5 million are Singapore permanent residents.