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Brief History of Singapore

"It is a place that cherishes its past as it looks to the future."

The earliest known mention of Singapore was a 3rd century Chinese account which described Singapore as "Pu-luo-chung" ("island at the end of a peninsula"). Little is known about the island's history at this time but this matter-of-fact description belies Singapore's colourful past. By the 14th century, Singapore had become part of the mighty Sri Vijayan empire and was known as Temasek ("Sea Town").

Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel Manila Room This was no less accurate than the 3rd century name. Located at the natural meeting point of sea routes at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore had long known visits from a wide variety of sea craft, from Chinese junks, Indian vessels, Arab dhows and Portuguese battleships to Buginese schooners.

During the 14th century, this small but strategically-placed island had earned a new name - "Singa Pura", or "Lion City". According to legend, a visiting Sri Vijayan prince saw an animal he mistook for a lion and Singapore's modern day name was born. The British provided the next notable chapter in the Singapore story. During the 18th century, they saw the need for a strategic "halfway house" to refit, feed and protect the fleet of their growing empire, as well as to forestall any advances by the Dutch in the region. It was against this political backdrop that Sir Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a trading station. The policy of free trade attracted merchants from all over Asia and from as far afield as the United States and the Middle East. By 1824, just five years after the founding of modern Singapore, the population had grown from a mere 150 to 10,000.

Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel Manila RoomIn 1832, Singapore became the centre of government for the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the advent of telegraph and steamship increased Singapore's importance as a centre for the expanding trade between East and West.

Singapore had been the site of military action in the 14th century when it became embroiled in the struggle for the Malay Peninsula between Siam (now Thailand), and the Java-based Majapahit Empire.

Five centuries later, it was again the scene of significant fighting during World War II. Singapore was considered an impregnable fortress, but the Japanese overran the island in 1942. After the war, Singapore became a Crown Colony. The growth of nationalism led to self-government in 1959 and on 9 August 1965, Singapore became an independent republic.

The statue of Singapore's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles

Singapore Today

Singapore is not just one island but a main island with 63 surrounding islets. The main island has a total land area of 682 square km.

However, its compact size belies its economic growth. In just 150 years, Singapore has grown into a thriving centre of commerce and industry. Its former role as an entrepot has diminished, as the Republic has increased its manufacturing base.

Singapore is the busiest port in the world with over 600 shipping lines sending super tankers, container ships and passenger liners to share the busy waters with coastal fishing vessels and wooden lighters.

One of the world's major oil refining and distribution centres, Singapore is also a major supplier of electronic components and a leader in shipbuilding and repairing. It has also become one of the most important financial centres of Asia, with more than 130 banks. Business dealings are facilitated by Singapore's superb communications network which links the Republic to the rest of the world via satellite, 24-hour telegraph and telephone systems. Singapore's strategic location, excellent facilities, fascinating cultural contrasts and tourist attractions contribute to its success as a leading destination for both business and pleasure.

Tourist Attractions.

Sentosa - Singapore's resort island getaway is a must-see for all visitors. Just minutes away from the bustle of the city, this island of tranquillity welcomes you with beautiful sandy beaches, rustic nature trails, Asia's most exciting oceanarium & Dolphin Lagoon, historical sites, museums and great entertainment!

The Singapore River was the lifeline of Singapore where our first immigrants eked out a meagre living and saw Singapore transform from an obscure little fishing village to a great seaport. And into a modern metropolis famous for its skyscrapers, the Merlion and "gastro-mania". Highlights on the banks of the Singapore River include Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, landmarks and memorials such as Merlion Park and Parliament House, museums such as the Asian Civilisations Museum as well as temples and mosques such as the Tan Si Chong Su Temple and Omar Kampong Melaka Mosque

The Singapore Botanic Gardens epitomises the tropical island's luxuriant parks - a combination of primary jungle and elegantly laid out flowerbeds and shrubs. Spread over 52 hectares, the gardens hold about 4,000 species of plant life, many rare specimens amongst them.

Singapore is one of only two cities in the world to have a significant area of primary rainforest within its boundaries. The 164-hectare Bukit Timah Nature Reserve - just 12 kilometres from the city centre - contains more species of flora than the entire North American continent.

There are dozens of other gardens and reserves in Singapore, among them the Chinese Garden and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore's first designated wetland nature reserve and a major stopping-off point for migrating birds during the months from September to March.

Shopping ! Shopping and Shopping

is one of the greatest pleasures in Singapore. Part of the fun is the excellent buys and great variety of shops all over the island. Delight in a bargain at a little neighbourhood shop, pick up a quaint item or two as you stroll through colourful ethnic quarters, discover favourite buys of the droves who flock to our modern malls or be enthralled by the splendour of whole shopping "cities" selling everything under the sun.

Many top hotels also have an attached shopping arcade with fine boutiques specialising in designer fashion, accessories, jewellery and watches.

And designer brands from the fashion runways of the world can be affordable - if you know where to look. Find them at the growing number of discount shops around the city. The magic is affordable in Singapore.

Central Shopping Belt

Singapore's Central Shopping Belt extending from Tanglin Road all the way down Orchard Road and Bras Basah Road to Marina Bay has been tagged Fifth Avenue, Regent Street, Champs-Elysees, Via Veneto and Ginza for good reason

This is where world-class shopping abounds. A day spent browsing and buying turns into an unforgettable experience as theme designer boutiques, local and international department stores, speciality shops and bargain counters compete with outdoor cafes and gourmet restaurants for your attention.

City & Fringe Shopping

Great shopping in Singapore isn't confined to just Orchard Road and its surroundings. Quality goods at prices that won't burn a hole in your pocket can be found in lots of places around the city centre. The Riverside area by River Valley Road is home to both some of the newest as well as the oldest shops in Singapore. Look in the heart of the financial district around Raffles Place and Shenton Way where the office crowd throngs the shops for a surprising variety of goodies

Suburban Shopping

If you're prepared to venture further afield, you can combine shopping with a little off-the-beaten track sightseeing as well. In fact, you'll discover some of the best bargains where most Singaporeans live, eat and shop - out in the heartlands of Singapore.

These suburban shopping centres offer a surprisingly comprehensive range of items from branded to electronic goods at prices to delight the value-conscious and determined bargain hunter. Business hours vary from shop to shop but as a general guide, most shops are open from 11am to 9pm.

Town centres in the larger estates of Tampines and Bishan are easily accessible by MRT. Shopping at these bustling town centres is a fascinating experience, providing insight into the local lifestyle and a chance to mingle with Singaporeans at their most comfortable. You also reap another benefit - the opportunity to tuck in "local style" at the numerous food centres and informal coffee shops.

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