Map Courtesy CIA World Factbook
The Republic of Singapore is an island city-state in Southeast Asia, situated on the southern tip of Malay Peninsula, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of the Indonesian islands of Riau. The name Singapore was derived from Malay word singa (lion), which it itself is derived from the Sanskrit word of the same meaning and the Sanskrit word for city.
The first records of Singapore were in Chinese texts dating back to the 3rd century. The island served as an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire and originally bore the Javanese name Temasek. Temasek rose to become a significant trading city, but subsequently declined in significance. Most of the remnants of old Temasek no longer exist in Singapore other than archaeological evidence.
In 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, a British East India Company official, made a treaty with the Sultan of Johore and established Singapore as a trading post and settlement. Singapore was later made a crown colony in 1867 after a series of territorial expansions. It soon grew as an entrepot town due to its strategic location along the busy shipping routes connecting Europe to China.
During World War II, Japanese forces invaded Malaya and the surrounding region. The unprepared British were defeated despite having numerical superiority, surrendering in February 1942 to the Japanese. The Japanese renamed Singapore as Syonan-to ("Light of the South") and held it until the Japanese defeat in September 1945. In 1959, Singapore became a self-governing crown colony with Lee Kuan Yew from the People's Action Party (PAP) as the first Prime Minister of Singapore following the 1959 elections. After a national referendum in 1962, Singapore was admitted into the Federation of Malaysia along with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak as a state with autonomous powers in September 1963. After heated ideological conflict developed between the state government formed by PAP and the Federal government in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore was expelled from the federation on August 7, 1965. She gained official sovereignty two days later on August 9, 1965 with Malaysia the first country to recognize it as an independent nation, the date becoming Singapore's National Day.
Upon achieving independence from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore rapidly developed into a successful free-market economy with one of the highest per capita gross domestic products in the world, and is a major finance and transport hub in the region. Singapore has a low crime rate and has been consistently rated by Transparency International as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. After the the separation, the fledgling nation had to struggle for self-sufficiency, and faced problems of included mass unemployment, housing shortages and the lack of land and natural resources. During Lee Kuan Yew's term as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, his administration curbed unemployment, raised the standard of living, developed Singapore's economic infrastructure and overcame problems such as lack of housing, social stability and an independent national defence. This elevated the nation first to developing nation and then subsequently to developed status.
Practices such as the ban of imports of chewing gum and fines for littering, spitting and not flushing in public toilets have led some to label Singapore a "nanny state". National service in Singapore is mandatory for all male citizens and male children of permanent residents. Even though it has not been engaged in any military conflict, Singapore maintains a 100,000-strong active force and 350,000-strong reserve force. Although Singapore has relatively warm relations with Malaysia, disputes still exist over issues such as the sale of water and territorial claims over Pedra Branca.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Singapore".