Brief History of Singapore
"It is a place that cherishes its past as it looks to the
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").
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
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
The statue of Singapore's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles
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
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.
- 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
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
Shopping ! Shopping and Shopping
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 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
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
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.