The name of Singapore (litterally the city of the Lion) appears for the first time in the malayan annals, written in the XVIIth century, to relate the story of the Malayan Monarchy.

According to this document, Singapore would have been so called by Parameswara, Governor of Sumatra in the early XVth century, because he thought to have seen a 3 colors lion, a legendary animal in the Hindu mythology.
Parameswara became King in the northern province of the peninsula and created the Malayan empire of Malacca.The empire, at this stage, encompasses Malaysia, Singapore and a large part of Sumatra. When portugues inaded Malacca in 1511, the sultan fled to the south of Johor, where he reinstated a new empire. 
The sultanate of Johor was weakened by numerous conflicts with Portuguese, Dutch and Bugis from Sulawesi. At the end of the XVIIIth century, Johor and Singapore were under the Dutch ruling, although the Malayan Royal family was still governing the country. Dutch established ports in the Riau Islands and the Malayan empire fall into abeyance.

An english port

In 1819, when Sir Stamford Raffles arrived in the strait of Singapore, the isalnd was covered with wild vegetation and accounted for 1000 inhabitants sharing the space with tigers and wild boars.
Sir Stamford Raffles (A Governor for the British East India Company) was rapidly convinced that Singapore was the ideal location to establish a British settlement and challenge the Dutch domination.
In March 1819, he signed a treaty with the Sultan of Johor which gave the British East India Company, the right to establish a commercial settlement in Singapore. A free port, Singapore grew rapidly and attracted merchants from everywhere: Europe, Middle East, India, China and Malaysia.
In 1826, Singapore, Malacca and Penang were organized in the Straits community. In 1860, Singapore's population had considerably increased and accounted for 80 000 inhabitants (of which 2/3 of Chinese origin). In 1867, the strait became a British colony. With the opening of the Suez canal, the importance of the port of Singapore increased: the strait of Malacca became the easiest way for the rubber trade in extreme east.
Singapore didn't take part to the first World War and the island was a refuge for many new immigrants. the latest, coming from Europe, brought along new habits and customs that participated to the local melting pot. The largest community immigrants was chinese. In 1930, China tried to limitate the number of men who could emigrate. As a result numerous unmarried women arrived. They settled and married local Chines inhabitants.
During the Japanese expansion in Asia, the British transformed Singapore in a military bastion. But the fortifications were not successful in retaining the japanese invasion in February 1942. At the end of the war, Singapore came back to being a British Colony. 

March to independence

In 1946, Great Britain ended the Straits Community to create a unified Malaysia. The English had rapidly to deal with singaporeans demands for independence.
In 1948, Singaporeans obtained the implementation of a legislative council and the election of a Prime Minister. In 1957,Singaporeans sent a delegation, including a young sollicitor, Lee Kuan Yew, which successfully demanded new concessions on the way to indépendence. In 1959, Lee Kuan Yew, leader of the PAP (People's Action Party)became the first Prime Minister of the Singaporean history.


In 1963, Singapore became independent within a community created with Malaysia (independent since 1957). The union between the 2 countries didn't last and Singapore regained its sovereignty on August, 9 1965.
Lee Kuan Yew remained prime minister until December 1990, when Goh Chok Tong succeeded to him. Since 2004, it is Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, who leads the country.

Books on Singapore's history

  • Singapore Struggle for success- John Drysdale

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