Who discovered Singapore

Singapore history

middle Ages

Singapore has only been an independent state since 1965. In the period before that, his story is closely linked to that of Malaysia.

In the 7th century, today's main island of Singapore was settled by Malays, most of whom came from Java and Sumatra. In the next centuries the island belonged to the Buddhist kingdom of the Srivijaya, whose capital was on the island of Sumatra and which carried out intensive trade with India, Arabia and China. The kingdom extended over what is now Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia to the southern part of what is now Thailand. Around the year 1150 the city of Temasek (or Tumasik, "City by the Sea") was founded, the forerunner of today's Singapore. Even then, the strategically favorable location of the city was evident, which soon developed into a lively trading center and was repeatedly fought over.

Modern times to the 19th century

In the 15th century, Malacca, founded around 1401 on the southwestern tip of mainland Malay, took over the leading role in the region. Singapore (the name Singa Pura is first mentioned by name in 1535) lost its importance. It stayed that way during the colonization of the Malay Peninsula, first by the Portuguese (1511), who founded numerous branches for the trade in spices and precious woods, and later by the Dutch (1641).

It was only through the attempt by Great Britain to push the Netherlands back from Southeast Asia towards the end of the 18th century that Singapore regained its importance. The English navigator Sir Raffles acquired the island from the Sultan of Johore, to whose territory it belonged, on behalf of the East India Company. In 1824, a treaty stipulated the exchange of areas of influence between Great Britain and the Netherlands: The Dutch renounced the Malay Peninsula, but instead got the islands that are now part of Indonesia from the British. Two years later, Singapore was combined with the - now British - branches on the Malay Peninsula (Pangkor, Malacca, Penang) to form the so-called "Straits Settlements".

From 1832 Singapore was the capital of this area, which was declared a crown colony of the British Empire in 1867. Even then, the port of Singapore was one of the largest transshipment centers for merchandise in Asia. Countless immigrants, especially Malays, Chinese and Indians, let the population of the city skyrocket. The important role of Singapore as a trading port increased due to the trade, including rubber, which was grown and processed in large plantations in the south of the Malay Peninsula and on Singapore.

20th and 21st centuries

The island was conquered by Japan during World War II and the British came back in 1945, but the rebellion of the colonized peoples against their colonial masters was also present in Southeast Asia: in 1957 the southern part of the Malay Peninsula became independent as the new Malaya state, and in 1959 Singapore was given a framework internal autonomy of the Commonwealth. The country's first prime minister and head of government was Lee Kuan Yew of the People’s Action Party (PAP), who held this post until 1990. The aim of the government of Singapore had to be to maintain the best possible relations with the areas of the Malay Peninsula, as the island was dependent on imports from the mainland, e.g. for agricultural products. Singapore was part of the Malaysian Federation for two years (1963-65), but then left and became finally independent in 1965. The reasons for leaving the federation were, on the one hand, ethnic differences between the Malays and the Chinese, who formed the dominant ethnic group in Singapore, and, on the other hand, the federation of Malaysia feared that the economically strong Singapore would dominate too much. Subsequently, under Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore turned to the west in search of strong trading partners. Singapore supported the United States during the Vietnam War. In 1967, along with Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, it was one of the founding states of the Southeast Asian confederation ASEAN. It was not until the 1980s that contacts were made for future trade relations with the communist states of Asia, above all with the People's Republic of China.

During the 31 years of Lee Kuan Yew's reign and beyond, the PAP was the dominant party; it still regularly wins a majority of seats in parliament in elections. Under the autocratic ruling Lee Kuan Yew and a consequent economic policy, Singapore developed into one of the safest and most prosperous countries in the world. Even the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis that emanated from Thailand could hardly change the stable growth rate. Singapore, for example, was able to provide multi-billion dollar loans to Indonesia and Thailand.

Political rights, especially freedom of assembly, speech and media, are severely restricted. In order to achieve or maintain the status of a particularly safe and clean country, unusual measures were also taken, such as the import ban on chewing gum. Chewing it in public is also a criminal offense, as is smoking. The death penalty has been imposed on drug trafficking since 1975, and anyone arriving in the country today will read "Death for Drugs" at the top of the entry form. In September 1994 a Dutchman became the first European to be hanged for drug smuggling. The catalog of punishments is partly from the colonial era and contains both the death penalty and the corporal punishment. In 1998 a law was passed requiring foreigners living in Singapore to undergo an AIDS test under threat of punishment.

From 1990 Gho Chok Tong ruled as Prime Minister, also from the People's Action Party (PAP). Lee Kuan Yew was still considered the strong man in the background. Yew's son Lee Hsien Loong has been Singapore's third Prime Minister since 2004.