The establishment of a British trading post in Singapore in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles led to its founding as a British colony in 1824. This event has generally been understood to mark the founding of colonial Singapore, a break from its status as a port in ancient times during the Srivijaya and Majapahit eras, and later, as part of Melaka and Johor.
A significant port and settlement, known as Temasek, later renamed Singapura, existed on the island of Singapore in the 14th century. Vietnamese records indicate possible diplomatic relationship between Temasek and Vietnam in the 13th century, and Chinese documents describe settlements there in the 14th century. It was likely a vassal state of both the Majapahit Empire and the Siamese at different times in the 14th century. Around the end of the 14th century, its ruler Parameswara was attacked by either the Majapahit or the Siamese, forcing him to move on to Melaka where he founded the Sultanate of Malacca, Archaeological evidence suggests that the main settlement on present-day Fort Canning was abandoned around this time, although a small-scale trading settlement continued in Singapore for some time afterwards. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the Malay archipelago was gradually taken over by the European colonial powers, beginning with the Portuguese conquest of the Malacca Sultanate in 1511. In 1613, the Portuguese burnt down a trading settlement at the mouth of the Singapore River, after which Singapore lapsed into insignificance in the history of the region for two hundred years.
The early dominance of the Portuguese was challenged during the 17th century by the Dutch, who came to control most of the region's ports. The Dutch established a monopoly over trade within the archipelago, particularly in spices, then the region's most important product. Other colonial powers, including the British, were limited to a relatively minor presence in that period.
In 1818, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles was appointed Lieutenant Governor of the British colony at Bencoolen. Raffles believed that the British should find a way to challenge the dominance of the Dutch in the area. The trade route between China and British India passed through the Malacca Strait, and with the growing trade with China, that route would become increasingly important. However, the Dutch had tight control over the trade in the region and intended to enforce the exclusive rights of its company ships to trade, and that trade should be conducted at its entrepot Batavia. British trading ships were heavily taxed at Dutch ports, stifling British trade in the region.
Raffles reasoned that the way to challenge the Dutch was to establish a new port in the region. Existing British ports were not in a strategic enough position to becoming major trading centres. Penang was too far north of the southern narrow part of Straits of Malacca controlled by the Dutch, whereas Bencoolen faced the Indian Ocean near the Sunda Strait, a much less important area as it is too far away from the main trading route. Many other possible sites were either controlled by the Dutch, or had other problems.
In 1818, Raffles managed to convince Lord Hastings, the then governor-general of India and his superior in the British East India Company, to fund an expedition to establish a new British base in the region, but with the proviso that it should not antagonise the Dutch. Raffles then searched for several weeks. He found several islands that seemed promising, but were either already occupied by the Dutch, or lacked a suitable harbour.
Eventually Raffles settled on the island of Singapore, because of its position at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, near the Straits of Malacca, and its excellent natural harbor, fresh water supplies, and timber for repairing ships. Most importantly, it was unoccupied by the Dutch.
Raffles' expedition arrived in Singapore on 29 January 1819 (although they landed on Saint John's Island the previous day). He found a Malay settlement at the mouth of the Singapore River, headed by a Temenggong (governor) for the Sultan of Johor. The Temenggong had originally moved to Singapore from Johor in 1811 with a group of Malays, and when Raffles arrived, there were an estimated 150 people governed by the Temenggong, mostly of them Malays, with around 30 Chinese. Although the island was nominally ruled by Johor, the political situation was precarious for the Sultan of Johor at the time. The incumbent Sultan of Johor, Tengku Abdul Rahman, was controlled by the Dutch and the Bugis, and would never agree to a British base in Singapore. However, Abdul Rahman was Sultan only because his older brother, Tengku Hussein, also known as Tengku Long, had been away in Pahang getting married when their father died. Hussein was then living in exile in the Riau Islands.
With the Temenggong's help, Raffles smuggled Tengku Hussein to Singapore. He offered to recognize Hussein as the rightful Sultan of Johor, and provide him with a yearly payment; in return, Hussein would grant the British East India Company the right to establish a trading post on Singapore. In the agreement, Sultan Husain would receive a yearly sum of 5,000 Spanish dollars, with the Temenggong receiving a yearly sum of 3,000 Spanish dollars. This agreement was ratified with a formal treaty signed on 6 February 1819.
Raffles returned to British Bencoolen (Sumatra) the day after the signing of the treaty, leaving Major William Farquhar as the Resident and Commandant of the new settlement, supported initially by some artillery and a single regiment of Indian soldiers. Establishing a trading port from scratch was in itself a daunting prospect, but Farquhar's administration was, in addition, practically unfunded, as Raffles did not wish his superiors to view Singapore as a liability. In addition, it was forbidden from earning revenue by imposing port duties, Raffles having decided from the outset that Singapore would be a free port.
In spite of these difficulties, the new colony rapidly proved to be a spectacular success. As news of the free port spread across the archipelago, Bugis, Peranakan Chinese, and Arab traders flocked to the island, seeking to circumvent the Dutch trading restrictions. During the first year of operation, $400,000 (Spanish dollars) worth of trade passed through Singapore. It has been estimated that when Raffles arrived in 1819, the total population of the whole of Singapore was around a thousand, mostly of various local tribes. By 1821, the island's population had increased to around five thousand, and the trade volume was $8 million. By 1825, the population had passed the ten thousand mark, with a trade volume of $22 million. (By comparison, the trade volume for the long-established port of Penang was $8.5 million during the same year.)
Raffles returned to Singapore in 1822. Although Farquhar had successfully led the settlement through its difficult early years, Raffles was critical of many of the decisions he had made. For instance, in order to generate much-needed revenue for the government, Farquhar had resorted to selling licenses for gambling and the sale of opium, which Raffles saw as social evils. Raffles was also appalled by the slave trade tolerated by Farquhar. Raffles arranged for the dismissal of Farquhar, who was replaced by John Crawfurd. Raffles took over the administration himself, and set about drafting a set of new policies for the settlement.
Raffles banned slavery, closed all gambling dens, prohibited the carrying of weapons, and imposed heavy taxation to discourage what he considered vices such as drunkenness and opium smoking. Raffles, dismayed at the disarray of the colony, also arranged to organise Singapore into functional and ethnic subdivisions under the drafted Raffles Plan of Singapore. Today, the remnants of this organisation like the Raffles Town Plan can be found in the ethnic neighbourhoods, within public housing estates or various places across Singapore.
Further agreements of the Malay chiefs would gradually erode their influence and control over Singapore. In December 1822, the Malay chiefs' claim to Singapore's revenue was changed to a monthly payment. On 7 June 1823, Raffles arranged for another agreement with the Sultan and Temenggong to buy out their judicial power and rights to the lands except for the areas reserved for the Sultan and Temenggong. They would give up their rights to numerous functions on the island, including the collection of port taxes, in return for lifelong monthly payments of $1500 and $800 respectively. This agreement brought the island squarely under British law, with the proviso that it would take into account Malay customs, traditions and religious practices, "where they shall not be contrary to reason, justice or humanity."
A further treaty, the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, was arranged by the second Resident John Crawford with the Malay chiefs and signed on 2 August 1824 to replace the Singapore Treaty. Singapore, including its nearby islands, was officially fully ceded to the East India Company, and in return, the chiefs would have their debts cancelled and receive an allowance for life, with each given an additional lump sum of 20,000 Spanish dollars.
After installing John Crawford, an efficient and frugal administrator, as the new governor, Raffles departed for Britain in October 1823. He would never return to Singapore. Most of his personal possessions were lost after his ship, the Fame, caught fire and sank, and he died only a few years later, in 1826, at the age of 44.
The status of Singapore as a British possession was cemented by the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, which carved up the Malay archipelago between the two colonial powers. The area north of the Straits of Malacca, including Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, was designated as the British sphere of influence, while the area south of the Straits was assigned to the Dutch.
This division had far-reaching consequences for the region: modern-day Malaysia and Singapore correspond to the British area established in the treaty, and modern-day Indonesia to the Dutch. In 1826, Singapore was grouped together with Penang and Malacca into a single administrative unit, the Straits Settlements, under the British East India Company.
Events from the year 1819 in Singapore.Aljunied
Aljunied is a sub-urban area located in the central part of the city-state of Singapore. Named after Aljunied Road, it was formerly agricultural land which has since been heavily urbanised and presently comprises a variety of land uses. Today, Aljunied is a bustling neighbourhood with HDB flats with amenities like shops, schools, parks and recreational facilities, as well as quite a number of traditional Singaporean shophouses.Anarchism in Singapore
There is a brief history of anarchism in Singapore. In contemporary times, there is little or no presence of the ideology in the country.Archaeology in Singapore
Archaeology in Singapore is a niche but growing discipline. Although there is generally a lack of government support for archeological work, many artifacts have been unearthed at sites around the island, helping to give a clearer picture of Singapore's history, both concerning the early history of Singapore and its subsequent colonial settlement following the founding of modern Singapore, the former being particularly useful in revealing archaeological evidence reflecting references to settlements such as Temasek, Ban Zu, Long Ya Men and the Kingdom of Singapura in chronicles and records.Chinese language romanisation in Singapore
The romanisation of the Chinese language in Singapore is not dictated by a single policy, nor is its policy implementation consistent, as the local Chinese community is composed of a myriad of dialect groups. Although Hanyu Pinyin is adopted as the preferred romanisation system for Mandarin, the general lack of a romanisation standard for other Chinese varieties results in some level of inconsistency. This may be illustrated by the many variants for the same Chinese characters often found in surnames such as Low, Loh, Lo; Tay, Teh; Teo, Teoh; Yong, Yeong.
The surname Zheng (simplified Chinese: 郑; traditional Chinese: 鄭) alone has several variations including Teh, Tay, Tee, Chang, Chung, Cheng, and Zeng. The variations Tay or Tee come from Singapore, while Teh or Tee normally have roots in Malaysia, Chang, Chung or Cheng from Hong Kong, and Zeng or Zheng normally from Mainland China.Government of Singapore
The Government of Singapore is defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore to mean the Executive branch of government, which is made up of the President and the Cabinet of Singapore. Although the President acts in his/her personal discretion in the exercise of certain functions as a check on the Cabinet and Parliament of Singapore, his/her role is largely ceremonial. It is the Cabinet, composed of the Prime Minister and other Ministers appointed on his/her advice by the President, that generally directs and controls the Government. The Cabinet is formed by the political party that gains a simple majority in each general election.
A statutory board is an autonomous agency of the Government that is established by an Act of Parliament and overseen by a government ministry. Unlike ministries and government departments that are subdivisions of ministries, statutory boards are not staffed by civil servants and have greater independence and flexibility in their operations.
There are five Community Development Councils (CDCs) appointed by the board of management of the People's Association (PA) for districts in Singapore. Where there are not less than 150,000 residents in a district, the PA's board of management may designate the chairman of a CDC to be the mayor for the district that the CDC is appointed for. As it is the practice for MPs to be appointed as Chairmen of CDCs, these MPs have also been designated as mayors.
From the founding of modern Singapore in 1819 until 1826, Singapore was headed by two residents in succession. Following Singapore's amalgamation into the Straits Settlements in 1826, it was governed by a governor together with a legislative council. An executive council of the Straits Settlements was introduced in 1877 to advise the Governor but wielded no executive power. In 1955, a Council of Ministers was created, appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Leader of the House. Constitutional talks between Legislative Assembly representatives and the Colonial Office were held from 1956 to 1958, and Singapore gained full internal self-government in 1959. The governor was replaced by the Yang di-Pertuan Negara, who had power to appoint to the post of prime minister the person most likely to command the authority of the assembly, and other ministers of the Cabinet on the prime minister's advice. In the 1959 general elections, the People's Action Party (PAP) swept to power with 43 out of the 51 seats in the assembly, and Lee Kuan Yew became the first prime minister of Singapore. The executive branch of the Singapore Government remained unchanged following Singapore's merger with Malaysia in 1963, and subsequent independence in 1965. The PAP has been returned to power in every general election and has thus formed the Cabinet since 1959. The government is generally perceived to be competent in managing the country's economy and largely free from political corruption. On the other hand, it has been criticized for using unfair election tactics, violating freedom of speech and its excessive use of the death penalty (by hanging) for non-violent crimes.Hussein Shah of Johor
Sultan Hussein Mua'zzam Shah ibni Mahmud Shah Alam (1776 – 5 September 1835) was the 18th ruler of Johor-Riau. He signed two treaties with Britain which culminated in the founding of modern Singapore; during which he was given recognition as the Sultan of Johor and Singapore in 1819 and the Sultan of Johor in 1824. However, Sultan Hussein was regarded as no more than a British puppet, at least during the first few years of his reign. Towards his last years of his reign and during the first half of his son's reign as the Sultan of Johor, limited recognition was given by a few nobles. The British were concerned mainly with their own economic and political gains.Immigration to Singapore
Immigration to Singapore is historically the main impetus for population growth in the country since the founding of modern Singapore in the early 19th century. Immigration and immigrant workers in Singapore have been closely associated with the Singapore's economic development. For a long period after its founding the majority of its population were immigrants; it was not until around the 1930s that the number of native births in Singapore would overtake net immigration. After its expulsion from Malaysia in 1965, immigration laws were modified in 1966 to reinforce Singapore's identity as a sovereign state. However, the initial strict controls on immigrant workers were relaxed as demand for labour grew with increased industrialisation. Immigration would again become the largest contributor to population increase in Singapore in the late 20th century and early 21st century.
The Immigrations and Checkpoints authority publishes a number of criteria for eligibility for permanent residence. In colonial times, British merchants and others moved to Singapore and helped develop the region. The large flow of migrants into Singapore in more recent times however has raised concerns and curbs on immigration have been introduced.Indian Singaporeans
Indian Singaporeans or Singaporean Indians (Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் இந்தியர்கள், Ciṅkappūr Intiyarkaḷ) – defined as persons of Indian ancestry – constitute 9.0% of the country's citizens, making them the third largest ethnic group in Singapore.
While contact with ancient India left a deep impact on Singapore's indigenous Malay culture, the mass settlement of Indians on the island only began with the founding of modern Singapore by the British in 1819. Initially, the Indian population was transient, mainly comprising young men who came as workers, soldiers and convicts. By the mid-20th century, a settled community had emerged, with a more balanced gender ratio and a better spread of age groups.
Singapore's Indian population is notable for its class stratification, with large elite and lower income groups. This has grown more visible since the 1990s with an influx of both well-educated and unskilled migrants from India, which has created new contradictions.
Singapore Indians are linguistically and religiously diverse, with ethnic Tamils and nominal Hindus forming majorities. The local Indian culture has endured and evolved over almost 200 years. By the 1990s, it had grown somewhat distinct from contemporary South Asian cultures, even as Indian elements became diffused within a broader Singaporean culture. Since then, new immigrants have increased the size and complexity of the local Indian population. Low-cost carriers, cable television and the Internet now connect the local Indian community with the culture of India and the Indian diaspora.
Several in-depth studies have been conducted and published in the recent years on the Indian communities in Singapore such as Rajesh Rai's, Indians in Singapore, 1819 -1945: Diaspora in the Colonial Port City, Anitha Devi Pillai's, From Kerala to Singapore: Voices from the Singapore Malayalee Community and Mathew Mathews, The Singapore Ethnic Mosaic amongst others.
Prominent Indian individuals have long made a mark in Singapore as leaders of various fields in national life. Indians are also collectively well represented, in areas such as politics, education, diplomacy and the law.Jalan Kubor Cemetery
Jalan Kubor Cemetery, (Malay: Perkuburan Jalan Kubor) sometimes called Victoria Street Cemetery, is a historical royal Muslim cemetery in Singapore’s Kampong Glam neighbourhood.
In 1824, the land was ceded to the British by Hussein Shah, Sultan of Johor and Singapore, in what is now called the founding of modern Singapore. Five years later, in 1829, a colonial prospector named J. T. Thomson recorded the historical site as Tombs of the Malayan Princes, which is the name that appeared on a map by G. D. Coleman, published in Calcutta in 1836 and in London in 1839. Another name appearing on early maps is Sultan Keramat, meaning Sultan’s Holy Grounds.
The cemetery features tombstones with inscriptions in a diversity of languages and writing systems, reflecting the indigenous peoples of Singapore, including Malay, Javanese script, Buginese Lontara script, Arabic, English, Mandarin and Gujarati.
In 1852, Syed Omar Aljunied donated the large plot of land as a waqf (inalienable charitable endowment) to be used as a Muslim burial ground under the trusteeship of his descendants. In 1987, Singapore Land Authority acquired ownership of the cemetery grounds. In 1998, Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority earmarked the site for residential redevelopment. In 2014 and 2015, a major research project led by Dr. Imran bin Tajudeen was commissioned by National Heritage Board, documenting the entire historical site.Kallang Basin
Kallang Basin (Chinese: 加冷盆地; Malay: Lembangan Kallang) is an enclosed bay in Kallang, Singapore. The Kallang River, Rochor River and Geylang River empty into the Kallang Basin. The Marina Channel connects the Kallang Basin with the Singapore Straits.
At present, the Kallang Basin forms part of the Marina Reservoir, so do the rivers that flow into the Kallang Basin and their tributaries. The reservoir has a catchment size of nearly one-sixth of mainland Singapore's land area. The Kallang Basin is a popular location for water sports, in particular, kayaking and dragon boating.
Today, the area surrounding the body of water is also frequently called "Kallang Basin". The term has been applied to the industrial estates along Kallang Bahru, the Kallang Basin Swimming Complex, amongst others.List of mammals of Singapore
Mammals in Singapore currently number about 65 species. Since the founding of modern Singapore in 1819, over 90 species have been recorded, including large species such as tigers, leopards and sambar deer. Most of these have since become extinct largely due to rapid urban development, with occasional large mammals such as Asian elephants swimming across the Straits of Johor from Johor, Malaysia.Many surviving species have critically low population numbers, the most seriously endangered being the cream-coloured giant squirrel, last sighted in 1995 and now possibly extinct. The banded leaf monkey is also down to around 50 individuals. However, some species may be rediscovered in more remote parts of the country, such as the Malaysian porcupine which was found on Pulau Tekong in 2005, and the greater mousedeer on Pulau Ubin in 2009.The most commonly seen native mammals are the long-tailed macaque and the plantain squirrel. The largest terrestrial mammal that can still be found is the wild pig, which is common on the offshore islands of Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong, but also found on the mainland. The largest mammals in Singapore, however, are marine creatures such as dugongs and dolphins. The colugo is also doing well, but these are rarely seen due to their elusiveness and camouflage.Naraina Pillai
Narayana Pillai was a social entrepreneur and businessman, who spent most of his life in Singapore during the colonial period. Of Tamil origins, he greatly contributed to the Tamil community in Singapore.
Prior to 1819, Pillai (also spelled Narayana Pillay) worked in Penang, which was ruled by the British. There, he came into contact with Stamford Raffles, a senior official of the British East India Company, who was keen to establish a new trading post at the southern end of the Straits of Malacca. This resulted in the founding of modern Singapore in 1819. In Penang, Raffles persuaded Pillai to join him and to work at his new settlement.Padang, Singapore
The Padang (Malay for 'field') is an open playing field located within the Downtown Core of the Central Area in Singapore. It includes the Padang Cricket Ground. The Padang is surrounded by several important landmarks, which include Saint Andrew's Cathedral, City Hall, the Old Supreme Court Building and the City Hall MRT Station.
Due to its prime location and historical significance, it has been used as a venue for a variety of events, including the National Day Parades some years due to the first ever National Day Parade being held there in 1966, the recently-held Singapore's Golden Jubilee Year in 2015, and later in 2019 honouring the bicentennial anniversary since the founding of modern Singapore in 1819. Since 1995, it has been planned that the NDP would be held there for every five years, the main venue for that major event is at Marina Bay Floating Stadium (previously the old National Stadium). On November 4, 2018, Padang hosted the live finals of the Chinese-Mandopop singing reality competition SPOP Sing!.Raffles' Landing Site
The Raffles' Landing Site is the location where tradition holds that Sir Stamford Raffles landed in on 28 January 1819. The site is located at Boat Quay within the Civic District, in the Downtown Core of the Central Area, Singapore's central business district.Singapore Standard (regulatory policy)
Singapore Standard (SS) specifies the standards used for industrial activities in Singapore. The standardization process is coordinated by Singapore Standards Council, administered by Enterprise Singapore, a Governmental body.Singapore in Malaysia
Singapore was one of the 14 states of Malaysia from 1963 to 1965. Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963 as a new political entity from the merger of the Federation of Malaya with former British colonies of North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore. This marked the end of a 144-year period of British rule in Singapore, beginning with the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819.
The union, however, was unstable due to distrust and ideological differences between leaders of the State of Singapore and the federal government of Malaysia. Such issues resulted in frequent disagreements relating to economics, finance and politics. The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which was the political party in power in the federal government, saw the participation of the Singapore-based People's Action Party (PAP) in the Malaysian general election of 1964 as a threat to its Malay-based political system. There were also major racial riots that year involving the majority Chinese community and the Malay community in Singapore. During a 1965 Singaporean by-election, UMNO threw its support behind the opposition Barisan Sosialis candidate. In 1965, Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman decided upon the expulsion of Singapore from the Federation, leading to the independence of Singapore on 9 August 1965. This led to Singapore and Malaysia to separate and become distinct countries by 1966. However, they cooperate in commerce.Stamford Raffles
Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, FRS (6 July 1781 – 5 July 1826) was a British statesman, Lieutenant-Governor of the Dutch East Indies (1811–1816) and Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen (1818–1824), best known for his founding of Singapore and the British Malaya.
He was heavily involved in the conquest of the Indonesian island of Java from Dutch and French military forces during the Napoleonic Wars and contributed to the expansion of the British Empire. He also wrote The History of Java (1817).