Fragments of Neolithic era stone tools found at Palau Tekong and elsewhere (Chyan, 2009) show that Singapore has been a human habitation from prehistoric times. However the first mention of Singapore in historic records occurs in third century CE Chinese records which refer to Singapore as Pu-luo-chung which corresponds to Pulau Ujong (island at the end), the Malay name of the main island of Singapore (Oakley & Brown, 2009).
From the seventh to thirteenth centuries CE, a city called Temasek prospered at the site of the present day Singapore. Temasek was a part of the Buddhist Srivijayan Empire that had its capital in Palembang on the island of Sumatra. During the Srivijayan era, the city was coveted by many different rulers and was sometimes threatened with siege or occupied by foreign forces. Evidences of city walls and a moat live to this day. In the eleventh century CE, a Hindu king, Raja Cholan managed to briefly occupy Temasek but it was eventually restored to Srivijayan rule (Schelander, 1998).
With the decline of the Srivijaya, Temasek was taken over by the Thai Kingdom that then lost it to the forces of the Javanese Majapahit Empire. By this time the city was being called Singapur which is Sanskrit for ‘Lion Land (Schelander, 1998)’.
In the sixteenth century CE, Singapore was annexed by the Sultanate of Malacca and but gradually lost its importance to the new rulers and dwindled in size, as a result when the British lieutenant governor of Bencoolen, Thomas Raffles arrived to set up a trading station in 1819, Singapore was more of a fishing village than a city (Schelander, 1998).
The British East India Company had arrived in India under the guise of trade in the seventeenth century and by the nineteenth century were the major power in the region, controlling much of India. Their main competitors were the Dutch who had gained control of what is today Indonesia. Both colonial powers fought hard to get a competitive advantage against each other. The Straits of Malacca provided an essential passageway for trade between China and India and East Asia. Both colonial powers sought to control the straits and restrict the flow of trade for their competitor (Schelander, 1998).
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