3rd Century – The First Time Singapore Gets Mentioned
Its nearly 1750 years ago that Singapore gets it first recognition in the dusty books of history.
While the Roman Empire is having its first real crisis and the Maya civilization is getting heads on their Pyramids, a place described as “Pu-luo-chung”, or “Island at the end of the Peninsula”, gets mentioned in a Chinese accountants business books.
7th Century – Temasek The “Sea Town”
500 years later.
On the other side of the world, Europe just decreased its population by half through a not planned plague, and the people in the eastern hemisphere don’t really care. Theres no internet yet and news will take some time to “travel” around the world.
Its during that time, a couple of hundred years after our Chinese friend wrote something about the “Island at the end of Peninsula” into his account books, that a Malayan Buddhist Empire gets established on the island of Sumatra. Today Indonesia and still close to Singapore.
The empire calls Singapore, Temasek or “Sea Town” by this time, and is used as a prosperous trading outpost of the empire.
I guess you have heard the name “Temasek” (Temasek Holdings is an Asia investment house) before, now you know where they got it from.
13th Century – The Lion City Is Born
It is said that in the 13th Century, a member of the Royal family, was searching for a site to build a new city. Arriving at the sandy shores of the island of Temasek, that obviously blind person mistook a tiger for a lion. Can happen.
However, taking this as a good omen, he decides to build his new city here, naming it Singapura, the Sanskrit words for Lion City. Singapore’s modern name is born through the mistake of a rich but blind royal member.
1819 – A Small Fisher Village With 150 Citizens
For at least 600 years Singapura stays a mainly unnoticed dot on the flat world map of these days. A small fisher village under the possession of the Sultanate.
Then suddenly half a millennium has passed and one day in January 1819 Sir Stamford Raffles arrives at the coast line on his search for a trading post, to battle the dutch monopole in the South East Asian region.
The small village of Singapora occurs perfect to him and he soon signs an agreement with the Sultan of Johor, giving the British the right to establish a trading port on the island and to proclaim it a free port. In exchange the Sultan gets free flow of British beer.
And thats when it all started. Countries from all over the world were attracted by the free trading port and established business in Singapore.
With no recession in sight yet the population increases from 150 to 10.000 people in only five years time. And again 40 years later an approx 90.000 locals were starting to enjoy Durians and the like of Tiger Beer.
1942 – World War II And The Japanese Take Over
Tanks and Machine guns have replaced Canon boats and swords and battling it out in South Malaysia the Japanese troupes soon invade into Singapore as well. The British army finally surrenders on February 8, 1942.
Trading, Business, Growth and Population die down, and ironically the Japanese government renames Singapura to Syonan (Light of the South) although there is no real light in sight so far.
1945 – Singapore Becomes British Crown Colony
Hitler puts himself to sleep and the end of the war puts Singapore back into British reign. It becomes a crown colony and is renamed (once again) to Singapore. For the next 15 years the British try to reestablished the successful trading port until 1959 the next important event starts a new area for Singapore and its citizens.
1959 To 1963 – The Short Affair With Malaysia
Finally and for the first time full elections are held in Singapore (never again since then, just jokin’) and under a new constitution Singapore gets granted self-government.
Due to the lack of local leadership experience Singapore soon, in 1963, joins Malaysia to become one country.
However, people and leaders don’t really like each other and decide to split again only two years later.
1965 – A New Nation Is Born
Singapore becomes a own nation and at the same time jumps directly on a nice second place in the hit list of “Smallest Country Of The World”, directly after Monaco.
Having almost won their first medal already Singapore now faces the task of creating and leading a new nation. They join the United nations and start gigantic industrialization plans to stabilize the economy.
Always trying to be the first in every aspect of daily life becomes a crucial part of the nations culture.
Today Singapore is one of the most modern and profitable countries of the world, attracting thousands of expats to move here and try their luck. Including me.
And like every child, the young nation Singapore is still learning, lets see how we get to puberty, which just started with the first ugly pimple in form of the financial crisis.