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Information about Singapore: Background and Brief History PDF Print E-mail
Background and Brief History

1819: Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore as a British trading post.

There is a Stamford Road, a Raffles Place, a Raffles Hotel and a Raffles City but no Stamford Raffles anything in Singapore.Mid-1860s: Singapore became a major port-of-call for ships plying between Europe and East Asia, thanks to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and a new technology: the steamship. The country continues to look for ways to exploit new technologies to ensure its survival and well-being.

Around 1900: Before the close of the 19th century, Singapore enjoyed unprecedented prosperity and trade expanded eightfold between 1874 and 1913. It attracted immigrants (the first foreign talents) from around the region.

1941: The peace and prosperity ended when Japanese aircraft bombed the sleeping city in the early hours of 8 December. Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942 and was renamed Syonan (Light of the South). It remained under Japanese occupation for three-and-a-half years.

Grade-school joke about being founded--

1945: Singapore reverted to British administration when the British forces returned in September, but not to the home they had left. The seeds of nationalism had been sown by the Japanese, who had demonstrated that an Asian power could overthrow a Western colonial power.

1948: When the Communist Party of Malaysia tried to take over Malaya and Singapore by force, a state of emergency was declared in June. The emergency lasted for 12 years. Some of the tactics used to defeat the Communists (such as hamletting, where villagers are placed in a guarded compound to prevent contact and material support) were later used in the Vietnam War.

1955: Singapore's first political contest was held and the first chief minister elected was David Marshall, a prominent Jewish lawyer who much later in life became ambassador to France. This was a limited form of self-rule as there was no independent constitution.

1959: Self-government was attained in 1959. In May, Singapore's first general election was held. Lee Kuan Yew, a lawyer who headed an opposition party called the People's Action Party, became the Republic's first Prime Minister.

1963: Economic logic compelled a merger with Malaya as part of a larger federation called Malaysia. The theory was that Singapore was an island too small to survive on its own.

1965: The merger was short-lived. Singapore was separated from Malaysia on 9 August, and became a sovereign, democratic and independent nation. On 22 December, Singapore became a republic, with Yusof bin Ishak as the republic's first President.

For a slightly longer but equally readable account, check out

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