Bookmark us now! Hotel, Resort, Restaurant, & Vacation Reviews
unbiased travel reviews for top vacation destinations
Travel Directory| Community

Facts & Information
Singapore History
Singapore Hotels
Singapore Attractions
Singapore Tours
Picture Gallery


Singapore History

Singapore’s written history remains somewhat blurred, with various names used to refer to the country. Around the 14th century, however, the city-state became known by the Sanskrit name, Singapura, which translates to “Lion City.” (Today, an eight-meter statue of a Merlion—a mythical beast said to be half lion and half fish—stands at the tip of Singapore in Merlion Park). During that time, Singapore struggled with Siam (now Thailand)

for control over the Malay Peninsula. Although Singapore supposedly lost the battle, it continued being known as a popular trading port well into the 19th century. So much so, in fact, that the British, who were then expanding throughout India, established a trading post in Singapore in 1819 to protect its merchant fleet and quickly began taking control of the port’s revenue flow.

In 1824, Britain formed two treaties and established formal control over Singapore. Two years later Singapore and two other British settlements, Malacca and Penang, became known as the Straights Settlements and placed under the control of British India. Singapore thrived, became the central place of government for the three areas by 1832 and went on to become the major port for ships journeying between East Asia and Europe. Exports continued to boom into the 1900s, drawing Chinese, Malay and Indian immigrants from surrounding areas. Europeans, too, were drawn to the prosperous, peaceful Singapore.

But that all changed in the early hours of December 8, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Singapore during World War II. Over the next two months the Japanese fought and eventually defeated Singapore, which was renamed Syonan (“Light of the South”). But it was a short-term victory. When the war ended in 1945, Singapore came back under the British Military Administration for one year before it became a separate crown colony. It joined in the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 but, amid political and ethnic tensions, pulled out two years later on August 9, 1965, and became an independent republic.

Singapore’s trading links and history as a trading colony has helped push its port to become one of the world's busiest in terms of the tonnage handled. The result? Singapore is now one of the world's most prosperous countries, with its per capita GDP equal to that of the leading nations of Western Europe. Its economy relies on exports, especially in electronics and manufacturing, although it was hit hard during the Asian financial crisis in 1998 and the global recession between 2001 and 2003. It was during that latter time when the tourism industry suffered due to the SARS outbreak. However, low interest rates and a surge in exports in 2004 helped push the country's GDP up by 8 percent that year and rejuvenated its economy. What’s more, in 2005, Singapore and Malaysia settled a bitter dispute over land reclamation work in their border waters. S R Nathan also began a second, six-year term as President that year, after winning elections from which his rivals were disqualified.

More Information


Singapore Travel Guides
 Frommer's Singapore
 Lonely Planet Singapore
 Let's Go Singapore
 Fodors Singapore