Written by Riyaan Kaul, a grade 5 student.
Singapore used to be just a small unused swamp at the tip of the Malaya Peninsula. Today, it is a beautiful, modern country. Singapore is the Asian Tiger. A tiny trading post has become one of the world’s richest nations!
Long long ago…
When tourists come to Singapore, they love how clean, green and exciting it is. But it was not always like this. For centuries it was known as Pulau Ujong or End Island. It was home to fishermen and pirates. Ancient writers and travellers knew about this island. In the 13th century, king Srivijaya, also known as Sang Nila Utama, founded Singapura, the city of the lion. The story is that Sang Nila Utama went hunting on the island and saw a mysterious animal. His companions told him that it was a lion. That is how Singapore got its name. In Sanskrit, Singha means lion, and Pura means city. In fact, the island did not have any lions, but it did have tigers.
A new port
In the 19th century, the British began looking for a port around the Malaya peninsula. Lieutenant Governor Sir Stamford Raffles found that Singapore had a deep harbour, plenty of freshwater, and wood. It was perfect! The British got it from the Sultan of Johor and developed it as a free port. traders and ships flocked to Singapore. Soon, people from China and other countries came and settled here. Singapore became an important port and trading centre.
Birth of a nation
During World War 2, Singapore was conquered by the Japanese Empire for three years (1942 to 1945). When the war ended Singapore was returned to the British. But the people of Singapore no longer wanted to be ruled by the British. They wanted a word in the Indonesian and Malay language meaning indepen... More, or independence. Singapore, along with the Malay Straits, became independent in 1963. But, Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party and Malaysia’s Alliance Party soon had many differences.
The two parties accused each other of mistreatment. Finally, in 1965, Malaysia and Singapore separated. When the separation was announced Lee Kuan Yew, the leader of PAP became emotional and started to cry. All of this happened on 9th August 1965, now known as Singapore’s National Day. Yusof Bin Ishak became the President, and Lee Kuan Yew became the Prime Minister of Singapore.
In 1965, Singapore was not a rich country. It was facing severe unemployment and a housing crisis. Lee Kuan Yew embarked on a modernization program. The focus of this program was to create a manufacturing industry and invest in public education and infrastructure. By the end of the 1970s, Singapore had become a modern country with a strong economy.
Fun facts about Singapore
- Singapore is a tiny country measuring only 721.5 sq. km
- It is one of the youngest nations in the world
- Singapore is not just one island. There are 64 small islands, like Sentosa, that surround the main island.
- The iconic emblem of Singapore is Merlion, a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish.
- There are great zoos, aviary, museums, and gardens in Singapore. It also has the world’s first Night Safari zoo.
- The Singapore Botanic Garden opened in 1859. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is older than the country itself!
- The HSBC Rain Vortex at Singapore’s Changi Airport is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
When Sir Stamford Raffles decided to make Singapore a British port, only a thousand people lived on the island. Today, Singapore is home to more than five million people who have come from different parts of the world and made it their home.
Singapore is a strong and prosperous country. Its people are polite, friendly and hard-working. This is the success of this tiny nation.
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