The History of Singapore

 

Raffles hotel old pic.jpg

Although our recent history dates back just 200 years to the arrival of the East India Company in the person of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, a huge amount has happened in Singapore in that relatively short time.

Starting with the setting up of a truly international and cosmopolitan port city, it developed into a real beacon of the British Empire before living through the Japanese invasion and their often brutal 3 and a half years of occupation. 

Post war, Singapore has faced many political & economic challenges particularly in the 50s & 60s with its initial struggle to rebuild, and then to gain its independence, first through a short lived membership of Malaysia and then as a fully independent nation. And its success in transforming from Colony to Nation is self evident.

Come and discover more about the people who came to this tropical island and helped transform it into the power house of a nation that it is today.

PS we also have some pre colonial history.

 

 
 
Javanese royal jewellery found at an archeological dig at Ft Canning

Javanese royal jewellery found at an archeological dig at Ft Canning

Pre Colonial

It’s often forgotten that Singapore was a thriving royal city
for just over 100 years from around 1299 to 1405, with 5
Royal kings residing in what we now call Fort Canning Hill
but which was known in those days as Bukit Larangan
(Forbidden Hill).

Known then as Temasek, our little island had in fact been
called by a variety of names over several centuries by
various adventurous seafarers.

 
 
 
Sir Stamford Raffles still surveys the Civic District from his vantage point in front of the Victoria Halls

Sir Stamford Raffles still surveys the Civic District from his vantage point in front of the Victoria Halls

Colonial

Singapore’s colonial history spans nearly 150 years. From January 1819’s arrival of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and William Farquhar to set up a trading post on behalf of the British East India Company, through to September 1963 when Singapore joined Malaysia.

The vestiges of this era can be seen in much of our architecture especially around the lovely Civic District with its impressive government buildings and monuments, many of which now serve as homes to the arts. In addition, we have colonial bungalows (known as Black & White houses) and old military establishments such as the Naval and Air bases, Army barracks, & Forts dating from the 19th century.

 
 
 
Allied Officers walking to the surrender at the Ford Factory in Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Feb 15 1942

Allied Officers walking to the surrender at the Ford Factory in Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Feb 15 1942

Wartime

The Japanese invasion in 1942, and the events leading up to the unexpected capitulation of "Fortress Singapore, Gibraltar of the East" changed the course of Singapore’s history; things would literally never be the same again. The brutal 2 and a half year occupation also left an indelible mark on Singapore and its people. Our yours explore the events leading up to the Invasion, the defences Singapore had erected and why they failed, and the way of life under the Japanese including the infamous Sook Ching massacres and PoW camps.

 
 
 
The first National Day parade Aug 1966

The first National Day parade Aug 1966

From Colony to Nation

Singapore’s development into the independent powerhouse
country it is today would have astonished many people –even
its 2 best known leaders & supporters, Sir Stamford Raffles &
Mr Lee Kwan Yew.

But develop it has – first with baby steps in the 1950s with
increasing independence, and then a severing of its British
apron strings in September 1963 with its short lived inclusion in
Malaysia, before finally achieving total “adulthood” in August
1965.

Its path has been strewn with challenges – political, social,
economic – but it has maintained a steady course to success
with a clear vision as to what was achievable. And achieve it
has!

 
 
 
the billion dollar downtown  view 

the billion dollar downtown  view 

Today's Singapore

Long gone are the days when people asked if Singapore was
somewhere in China – or worse, Japan!

Today’s Singapore is known throughout the world as a
bastion of order, clean government and safety, as well as
having a thriving economy based on astute decisions.

But there is so much more to it…it is a cultural hub, a
country which increasingly recognises the importance of
heritage and culture. At the same time, it boasts some of the
most amazing architecture, and has a thriving arts scene.

And its feats of engineering are legendary – from projects to
improve its infrastructure to its efforts to become as
sustainable as possible, particularly in the fields of water &
trash management, it so often leads the way.