Singapore’s origins go back centuries beyond her days as a British
colony. In the 7th Century AD, she was Temasek or ‘Tea Town’, a trading
center of Sumatra’s ancient Srivijaya Empire. By the 13th Century she had
become one of its three kingdoms. Legend tells us when Sang Nila Utama, the
Prince of Palembang, landed on the island he encountered a strange animal
(‘very swift and beautiful, its body bright red, its head jet black’) which
he mistook for a lion but which was more probably a native tiger. So the name
Singa Pura (in Sanskrit, ‘Lion City’) came about.
The 14th Century saw the empires of Java and Siam struggling for regional
dominance with the Chinese Imperial Fleet under Admiral Cheng Ho. Within the
next hundred years the great city of Singa Pura would be destroyed and reclaimed
by the jungle.
Throughout the 16th Century the Dutch, Portuguese and British sailed by,
while Singa Pura’s fabled past remained shrouded in the mists of time. In
1811, a hundred Malays from Johore led by the local chief, the Temenggong,
settled at the mouth of the Singapore river, but it was not until 1819 that Sir
Thomas Stamford Raffle stepped ashore and selected the island as a British
Raffles spent only nine months in Singapore, he laid the principles for the
city’s development as a free port, as the giant international marketplace of
Southeast Asia. By the time he died in 1827, the Sultan of Johore had ceded full
sovereignty to Britain and Singapore’s second golden age was underway.
There were junks from China laden with tea, china and other precious
goods. From the eastern islands of Indonesia came the ladder-masted boats of the
Bugis, filled with ebony, camphor and ivory. From Borneo, Java and Sumatra came
cargoes of pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and batik textiles. All
were loaded onto the mighty East Indiamen for the voyage back home to London.
For 110 years, British colonial rule flourished in balmy splendor. The
propagation of rubber trees in Singapore’s Botanic Gardens and the boom in tin
created by the American canning industry heralded another era of economic
In 1942, victorious Japanese forces took Singapore and, with the end of
the war, 1946 saw a new generation of Singaporeans demanding self-determination.
On June 3, 1959, Singapore became a new self-governing state with
brilliant young Cambridge-educated lawyer, Lee Kuan Yew, as Prime Minister. From
September 1963 until 9, 1965, Singapore was part of the Malaysian Federation,
when she became an independent republic.
Singapore’s 2.5 million people share a common identity as citizens of a
modern republic. Today, 77% are Chinese; 15% are Malay; 6% are Indian; 2% are
Eurasian or European. Harmony has been achieved through a shared destiny
stemming from a shared struggle for nationhood.
The above tour package (minimum 2 persons) includes:
- SIC Round trip airport & hotel transfers
- 3-day American Breakfast
- 3-night hotel accommodation at the hotel of your choice
half day SIC City tour
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