History Of Singapore

Before 1819, Singapore was a small fishing village, relatively unknown all over the world. It was in 1819, when the Englishman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founded a British port on the island that Singapore began gaining recognition as a center for both the India-China trade and the entrepot trade of the Southeast Asian region. It eventually became one of the most important port cities in the world, being called the Crown Colony by its British colony masters. As with these circumstances, Singapore's trade economy grew enormously.

During World War II, although the British tried to protect their Crown Colony from falling into the Japanese hands, their efforts were in vain. With most of their defenses shattered and supplies almost exhausted, Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival and the British forces finally surrendered to General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Imperial Japanese Army on Chinese New Year, 15 February 1942. About 130,000 Indian, Australian and British troops became prisoners of war, many of whom would later be transported to Japan, Korea, or Manchuria for use as slave labor via prisoner transports known as "Hell Ships." The fall of Singapore was the largest surrender of British military personnel in history.

Singapore was conquered and occupied by the Japanese Empire from 1942 to 1945, the period being known today as The Japanese Occupation. It became regarded as one of the darkest times in the history of Singapore and brought about many losses of innocent lives. The Japanese had claimed that they were liberating Southeast Asia from colonialism, but in reality they were far harsher rulers than the British ever were. They had a grudge against the Chinese, mainly because they thought that the Chinese here in Singapore were supporting China, who was waging a war against Japan, by sending funds back to their homeland. The Japanese tortured and killed many Chinese during the war.

After the war, Singapore reverted back to British control, with increasing levels of self-government being granted, culminating in its merger with the Federation of Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. It was an occasion to celebrate to both the Singaporeans and Malayans, as they had both achieved their individual goals through this merger, or so it seemed. Malaya's main reason for the merger was because it was afraid that Singapore would fall into the power of the communists and then it would have a communist base right at their doorstep. Since Malaya was anti-communist, it could not tolerate such a threat. Singapore, on the other hand, wanted to set up a Common Market with Malaya so it could gain numerous economic benefits. The marriage of convenience was part of the cause for separation on August 9, 1965. There were many hardships suffered as the government struggled to bring Singapore to prosperity when it was separated from the Federation of Malaysia and it was left to govern itself, with hardly any natural resources and a relatively small population of mainly four races.

Though many people doubted Singapore's ability to become a successful independent nation, it steadily grew stronger economically and social cohesion was easily observed. Where there used to be racial riots and fights, now one can see different races living together in harmony. It has become one of the world's most prosperous nations, with a highly-developed free market economy, strong international trading links, and per capita GDP comparable to that of the leading nations of Western Europe.

Singapore's main industries used to manufacture soap bars, noodles, toilet seats etc. - the basic necessities -  in the 1960s. However, as the standard and quality of living rose through the years, the manufacturing industries moved towards luxury goods like sofas, televisions etc. And finally, upon entering the 21st century, Singapore began moving into the tertiary industry. The focus wasn't so much on manufacturing but on providing quality services. Multi-national corporations (MNCs) from all over the world, like Nike and Toshiba, were brought in to Singapore while home-grown brands like Creative established themselves as big names internationally.

Stepping onto Orchard Road today, one can see for yourself that Singapore has turned into a shopping haven for people of all ages. Whether you want a brand new soft toy or a funky handbag or even an antique, one street covers it all. Travellers will be in for a treat if they visit Singapore.

-extracted from wikipedia.org

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