Singapore has come a long way from the mere trading port it was in the 12th century, when the city was known as Temasek, or Sea Town. It was during this time that Singapore saw the very first settlements on its shores.
A prince from Palembang came across a lion (Singa in Sanskrit) while hunting and name the city as Singa Pura, or the Lion City in the 14th century. Rest assured, there are no lions crouching amidst Singapore’s high risers, waiting to pounce on you. The lion is still Singapore’s proud emblem; you’ll see it carved in granites and marbles throughout the city.
For the next several centuries, the island was ruled by 5 different rulers for a long time. The city flourished as a natural trading post, being fortuitously placed at the meeting point of sea routes. Boats, dhows and battleships from Arabia, China, Brazil and other countries would regularly dock at Singapore. The fast-growing trading hub attracted immigrants and Singapore grew.
The Singapore that we know today was founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in the 19th century. Raffles recognized the fly-infested swampy island’s value and the British occupied the city.
Singapore was attacked by the Japanese during WWII. Britain surrendered to Japan, who promptly renamed the city as Syonan-to (Light of the South Island). Singapore became British property again after the Japanese surrendered in 1945.
The British remained in power until Singapore became independent in 1969. The Republic of Singapore was formed on 9th August 1969 to much fanfare. Since then, Singapore has become an enviable tourist destination. Singapore’s strong judicial system and open attitude to trade and entrepreneurship has transformed it into a very successful and self-contained city.