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
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
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.