Singapore: From Unwanted Island to Economic Power

The Singapore skyline as seen during the Formula One Grand Prix. (Image by chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons)
The Singapore skyline as seen during the Formula One Grand Prix. (Image by chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1965, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia, becoming the only country to earn its independence unwillingly.

Here are some things you may not have known about the world’s only island city-state.

Singapore is among the 20 smallest countries in the world. It’s located just off the southern tip of the Malay peninsula in southeast Asia.

Its name is derived from the Sanskrit “Singapura,” meaning Lion City.

Singapore was established as a kingdom in the year 1299 and was a trading center for the region.

In 1819, following a treaty, the British developed part of the island as a trading post. Five years later, the entire island came under British control.

Leading the British contingent was Thomas Stamford Raffles, best known as the namesake of the Raffles Hotel, which is where the Singapore Sling cocktail was invented.

When Raffles arrived, there were only about 1,000 residents in Singapore. 40 years later, the population had grown to more than 80,000.

The British built a large navy base at Singapore following World War I. This made the island a primary target for the Japanese during World War II. In February 1942, 60,000 British troops surrendered in what Winston Churchill described as the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.

The Allies bombed Singapore between November 1944 and May 1945. The Japanese occupied Singapore until September 1945.

In 1959, Singapore became an internally self-governing state within the British Commonwealth.

In 1962, it joined with Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo to form the federation of Malaysia.

It didn’t take long for disagreements on racial policies to begin fraying the new federation.

In 1965 the Malaysian Parliament voted unanimously to expel multiracial Singapore.

Since 1965, Singapore has established itself as a global trading and financial center. It now has a population of about 5.5 million.

In 2008, Singapore became the first country to host a Formula One race at night.

Our question: What is the main alcohol in a Singapore Sling?


Today is International Day on Indigenous Peoples, National Peacekeepers’ Day in Canada, and National Women’s Day in South Africa.

It’s unofficially Book Lovers Day, National Rice Pudding Day, and National Polka Day.

It’s the birthday of “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers, who was born in 1899; singer Whitney Houston, who was born in 1963; and football player Deion Sanders, who is 49 today.

This week in 1965, the top song in the U.S. was “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” by Herman’s Hermits.

The No. 1 movie was “Ship of Fools,” while the novel “The Source” by James Michener topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question

What was the title of the first Led Zeppelin album that didn’t feature the band’s name?



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