Learn About Singapore History In 5 Minutes

The Republic of Singapore has a detailed and interesting history. The city-state features a unique blend of both the past and the future and is considered to be one of the most diverse cities in the world.

It is believed that the first inhabitants of the island chain arrived sometime near the 2nd century AD, travelers from a Sumatran Srivijaya Empire. The first known outpost on Singapore was named Temasek, which stood for ‘sea town’. Since that time the island has been part of a number of different empires. The Sultanate of Johor claimed the island as part of their empire from the early 16th century until the early part of the 19th century. The island suffered a terrible blow in 1613, when Portuguese raiders attacked and burned the city. The islands remained obscure from the world for another 2 centuries until it gained the attention of Britain’s East India Trading Company, who wished to use the island as a trading outpost. The island was named an East India Trading Company port city in 1819 when the Sultan Hussein Shah signed an agreement with a representative of the trade conglomerate. The island was further developed at this time into a center for trade.

The island was taken over by British rule completely in 1824. In 1826 the islands of Singapore were named part of Britain’s Straits Settlements. During WWII it was overtaken and occupied by the Japanese, following the Battle of Singapore. The battle was very intense and the British army loses were high. The British Army was forced to surrender Singapore to the Japanese in 1943. It remained in the hands of the Japanese until the war ended with the Japanese surrendered to the Allied Forces in 1945. The British were eventually able to reclaim the city as their own.

It was during this that people of Singapore began to fight for independence. In 1959 the elected leaders of Singapore convinced the British Empire to grant them independence. Singapore officially claimed independence from British rule on August 31, 1963, and joined the Federation of Malaysia. Two years later Singapore broke away from this Federation and become a sovereign city-state in 1965. Since then the city has remained an independent nation.

Since the end of the 1960’s, Singapore has seen tremendous growth in its city and its economy. It is now considered to be one of the Four Asian Tigers. It contains one of the five busiest ports in the world. It also features a heavy industry center and a large tourism economy. The diverse country is home to a number of different ethnicities, the most prominent are the Chinese, the original inhabitants known as the Malay and a large Indian population. 42% of the city-state is comprised of foreign-born people, adding a host of new cultures to the area.

Today Singapore is home to a bustling economic center and houses many cultural and historical museums and theaters. The conservative culture has begun to lighten up slightly over time and the city now offers casinos, nightclubs and a Universal Studios theme park. Singapore truly is one of the most interesting places on earth to visit

The invasion of Malaya by the Japanese Army was brought to a head at the Battle of Singapore , where the British were forced to surrender the fortress on 15 February 1942, after six days of fighting.

Singapore Remembers the Fallen Heroes of the Second World War at Changi Museum

The City of Lions, or Singapore, is a country large enough only to occupy the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Yet it is one of the world’s foremost economic powers and boasts the most advanced military in East Asia. Ever one of the world’s champion trading hubs, it seemed to lead a charmed life, flourishing both under British colonization and post-independence alike. One of the only three city-states still in existence, Singapore has proved it more than equal to marching among the ranks of giants as a world power.

Yet the present-day glamour and prosperity of the nation masks war wounds of recent history whose scars still carry the ghosts of pain. The devastation of the Second World War was as unsparing of Singapore as it was the rest of the world; the defeat of the British forces in Singapore at the hands of Japanese was one which Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.” The invasion of Malaya by the Japanese Army was brought to a head at the Battle of Singapore, where the British were forced to surrender the fortress on 15 February 1942, after six days of fighting. The British Naval Base was destroyed rather than let fall into Japanese control. All surviving officers, women and children were interned by the Japanese as prisoners of war, where they remained for three years. The ensuing days heralded the Sook Ching Massacre; the indiscriminate killing of the city’s Chinese citizens by the Japanese Army.

The Changi Museum is built to honor the memory of the soldiers who fell defending the city-state and the prisoners of war who perished in internment. The current museum was opened in 2001, marking the 59th Anniversary of the fall of Singapore. It replaced the original Museum which was housed in the Old Changi Prison Chapel. The Museum aims to document accounts of the Japanese occupation and bring closure to sorrowing families who lost their loved ones here. It also serves as an education and resource centre for scholars and the nation’s youth, so that the lessons learned from this dark history may not be forgotten.

The Museum houses a collection of paintings and memorabilia donated by former POW’s and their families. The collection of artwork created by former POW William Haxworth depicting the daily life and sights of interns is of special interest, most of which were donated to the National Archive of Singapore by his wife. The watercolor paintings of POW Mary Angela Bateman also provide insights into the experiences of the thousands of women and children interned at Changi Prison.

This is a place that wears the nation’s battle scars with pride and adorns itself in tales of heroic deeds and inspirational anecdotes of those who would otherwise become a forgotten footnote in Singapore’s history. Visitors wishing to enhance their travel experience by gaining a deeper understanding of the country should choose among Singapore hotels providing best access to places such as the Changi Museum. Visit SingaporeHotelsEye.com to find hotels in Singapore within proximity to similar must-see venues and offering great deals and packages.

Living and Teaching in Singapore

Education in Singapore

Schools in Singapore vary in size and cater for children between the ages of 3 and 21. Many of the schools offer the IB Diploma and IGCSE whilst some also offer the English National Curriculum. Most of the International schools offer a wide range of extracurricular activities.

Children here tend to be well behaved and are keen to learn, a pleasure to teach.

The school year runs from August to the end of June. The International Schools are usually well resourced and the air conditioning makes for a great working environment. What better way to mark the end of a hard week of teaching than with a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar at Raffles?

Living in Singapore

Welcome to the beautiful, sunny island in South Asia surrounded by 60 islets. Singapore is a place where the modern west meets the culture of Asia. Although Singapore is a tiny island with few natural resources (not even its own water supply) it is incredibly well off.

This is due to the foresight of a government that took maximum advantage of the country’s geographical position and established Singapore as the world’s largest port (now second to Rotterdam). Its status as a hub has made it an ideal place for the petrochemical refining and its associated industries. With eleven refineries and huge capacity Singapore is third worlds largest refiner after Rotterdam and Houston.

The cost of living in Singapore is amongst the highest in Asia but teachers are usually well paid to offset this. It is also well worth bearing in mind that Singapore offers state of the art facilities for education, shopping, sports and recreation.

The prices of food and clothing are reasonable. Singapore is a vibrant crowded city full of high rise buildings, museums, historic buildings and shopping centers.

There are however plenty of places to go to escape the hustle and bustle including 400 parks numerous beaches and of course the rainforest. Most people speak English and government signs are posted in English as well as Chinese, Malay and Tamil, so communicating with the locals will not be a problem.

Life in Singapore is very, very safe and ideal for bringing up children. It is very much a multi cultural society.

Situated near to the Equator, Singapore does not have seasons with temperatures being around 30C all year round, humidity is high. There are frequent heavy but short showers usually between November and January.

Places of Interest

Often the first place people think of when they hear the name Singapore is the Raffles Hotel, a symbol of British Colonial ambience. Built in the Renaissance style, Raffles Hotel is one of the most famous hotels in the world. Surprisingly it was three brothers from Turkey who built the hotel.

Clarke Quay is a historical riverside quay in Singapore. In the late 19th Century it was the center of commerce, today it is the centre of entertainment, the restored warehouse features a range of restaurants, wine bars, entertainment spots and retail shops.

The Bukit Timah Nature ReserveThis large reserve contains many species of plants. At the heart of the reserve lies Singapore’s highest point, Bukit Timah Hill. You can trek while listening to the birds. You may even see some monkeys. There are many beautiful gardens in Singapore that are worth visiting. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a mixture of jungle and manicured gardens; the NationalOrchidGarden holds 60,000 plants and orchids.

An intriguing place to visit is the Night Safari; it is the world’s only zoo where you can see nocturnal animals’ behaviour in 8 different geographical zones. Some 1000 nocturnal creatures can be found here from fierce predators to timid forest dwellers.

There are also museums in Singapore that trace the history of the Island. The Changi Museum tells the horrific story of more than 50,000 civilians and soldiers who spent over three years of war and imprisonment in Changi during the Japanese Occupation (1942 – 45)

History of Singapore

During the early history of Singapore, Buddhists from Sumatra colonize the swampy island of Singapore, naming it Temasek (SeaTown). It later became a centre for trade in porcelain, pottery and aromatic products between China and South-East Asia.

The development of Singapore into a major port doesn’t begin until 1819 with the arrival of Thomas Stamford Raffles, historian, cartographer, botanist, linguist and British colonialist. Convinced of the potential of Singapore’s natural harbour and strategic geographical position, Raffles obtained permission to found a trading post on the island. He declared Singapore a “free port with trade open to ships of every nation”.

Within four years the population leaped to nearly 10,000 and some 3,000 vessels docked there. Singapore prospered from trade in Chinese tea and opium, as well as rubber and tin from the Malay Peninsula. The battle of Singapore took place in February 1942; it resulted in the fall of Singapore and the Japanese occupation. In September 1945 the British forces returned to Singapore.

Memorials of War in Singapore

Singapore was a fiercely contested territory during the Second World War between the Allied troops and the pro-Nazi Japanese. Why does this translate into an interesting vacation experience? Because, Singapore holds some of the world’s best preserved World War II monuments and artifacts.

Some interesting places to visit that bring back memories of the darkest chapter in modern history are the Battle Box, the Changi Chapel and Museum, the Civilian memorial, Fort Siloso and the Johore Battery.

Tucked into the hillside of Fort Canning is the Battle Box, the largest underground command centre of the British Malaya Command Headquarters during World War II. Comprising of 22 rooms linked by a corridor, this complex is bomb-proof and also capable of recycling its own air supply. Through the use of special audio-visual effects, and high-quality animatronics, visitors are able to relive the morning of 15 February 1942 when Singapore fell to the Japanese.

Fort Siloso was built by the British in the 1880s to protect the western entrance to the Singapore harbour, Fort Siloso is the only preserved British coastal fortification in Singapore today. The fort became a concentration camp for POWs (Prisoners Of War) during the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945.

The Changi Chapel, housed within the open-air courtyard of the Museum, is a symbolic replica of the many chapels built during the Japanese Occupation. Built by Changi Prison inmates, it stands as a monument to those who maintained their faith and dignity during those dark years. One of the museum’s main highlights is the replica of The Changi Murals, a series of magnificent wall paintings recreated from the originals painted by bombardier Stanley Warren.

These are only a few of the thought provoking memorials of the World War that are to be found in Singapore many can be found strewn all over the island. Singapore hotels offer tours and special packages to visit these historically important sites. Some historic hotels in Singapore also have their own monuments and memorials dedicated to World War II.