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Singapore was mentioned in the Javanese Nagarakretagama of 1365 as Temasek or Sea Town. A third-century account described Singapore as Pu-luo-chung or island at the end of a peninsula. Although its Sanskrit name Singapura (Lion City) was commonly used by the end of the 14th century.

In the early 15th century, Singapore was a Thai vassal state of the Javanese, but the Malacca (Melaka) Sultanate which Iskandar had founded quickly extended its authority over the island. After the Portuguese seizure of Malacca in 1511, the Malay admiral fled to Singapura and established a new capital at Johor Lama, keeping a port officer in Singapura.

The Portuguese destroyed Johor Lama in 1587 and the subsequent obscurity of Singapura probably dates from 1613 when the Portuguese reported burning down a Malay outpost at the mouth of the river.

In 1819, Singapore was established as a trading station by Sir Stamford Raffles under an agreement between the British East India Company and the Sultan of Johor and the Malay ruler of the island to protect its line of trade from China to the colonies in India.

Under his tutelage, Singapore's forlorn reputation as a fetid, disease-ridden colony was soon forgotten. Migrants attracted by a tariff-free port poured in by the thousands, and a flourishing colony with a military and naval base was established.

During World War II, Singapore was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. Following the surrender of Japan, Singapore was re-occupied by the Allied Forces.

In August 1958, the State of Singapore Act was passed in the United Kingdom Parliament providing for the establishment of the State of Singapore. 

Singapore achieved internal self-government as the People's Action Party, with the Cambridge-educated Lee Kuan Yew as leader, was elected on 3 June 1959. Lee became prime minister, a position he was to hold for the next 31 years.

On 1 September 1962, 73 percent of the electorate voted in favour of merger with Malaya (now Malaysia).
Singapore became a part of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963. The union was short-lived and Singapore separated from Malaysia on 9 August 1965 becoming a fully independent and sovereign nation.

Singapore became the 117th member of the United Nations on 21 September 1965. On 22 December 1965, the Constitution Amendment Act was passed under which the Head of State became the President and the State of Singapore became the Republic of Singapore.

The country's first presidential election was held in August 1993 - prior to that, presidents were elected by members of parliament. The most recent election was in September 1999 when the presidency, a role which is largely ceremonial, was won by S.R. Nathan.


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