A British Colony
By 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles of the English East India Company, in search of a new port to develop in the Southeast Asian region, found Singapore as a perfect fit for new trading routes. He attempted to come to an agreement with native leadership, however at this time, the Dutch had territorial claims to the island. It wasn’t until 1824 that Singapore was ceded to British control with the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty, where the British gained control of Malaya and Singapore with the hopes that the region would become a primary trading port for the British. Singapore would then become a crown colony in 1867, linking British and Western markets.
In the early 20th century, Singapore became not only a stronghold in the ways of international trade, but also in military strategy as well. In the aftermath of World War I, British forces decided to establish the city of Singapore as a naval base. The island would eventually become a battleground during World War II and would even be surrendered by the British to Japanese forces until the end of the war in 1945. In 1959, Britain would grant self-government to the country of Singapore; however, it would remain a British crown colony. Singapore’s independence from Britain was largely due to the rise of the People’s Action Party (PAP), which embraced the goal of independence and would spearhead the movement to have Singapore join the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, effectively ending British rule. The Federation was intended to unite the region (largely due to rising ethnic tensions in the area), however not even two years after joining the Federation, the island of Singapore would be asked to secede due to pro-communist forces in the PAP-led government. Modern-day Singapore’s government relations continue to emulate strong trade priorities, with Singapore as a founding member of ASEAN and named the best city for doing business by the World Bank in 2012.