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History of Singapore

The first records of settlement in Singapore are from the 2nd century AD. The island was an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire and originally had the Javanese name Temasek ('sea town'). Temasek (Tumasek) rapidly became a significant trading settlement, but declined in the late 14th century. There are few remnants of old Temasek in Singapore, but archaeologists in Singapore have uncovered artifacts of that and other settlements.

Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Singapore island was part of the Sultanate of Johor. During the Malay-Portugal wars in 1613, the settlement was set ablaze by Portuguese troops. The Portuguese subsequently held control in that century and the Dutch in the 18th, but throughout most of this time the island's population consisted mainly of fishermen.

Following World War II, the British government allowed Singapore to hold its first general election, in 1955, which was won by a pro-independence candidate, David Marshall, who thus became Chief Minister.

Demanding complete self-rule, Marshall led a delegation to London, but was refused by the British. He resigned upon return, and was replaced by Lim Yew Hock, whose policies then convinced the British. Singapore was granted full internal self-government with its own prime minister and Cabinet overseeing all matters of government except defense and foreign affairs.

Elections were then held on 30 May 1959 with the People's Action Party winning a landslide victory. Singapore eventually became a self-governing state within the British Empire on 3 June 1959 and Lee Kuan Yew was sworn in as the first prime minister of Singapore two days later. Then Governor of Singapore, Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode, served as the first Yang di-Pertuan Negara from 3 June 1959 until 3 December 1959. He was succeeded by Yusof bin Ishak, who would later become the first President of Singapore.

Singapore declared independence from Britain unilaterally in August 1963, before joining the Federation of Malaysia in September along with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak as the result of the 1962 Merger Referendum of Singapore. Singapore left the federation two years after heated ideological conflict between the state's PAP government and the federal government in Kuala Lumpur. Singapore officially gained sovereignty on 9 August 1965. Yusof bin Ishak was sworn in as President, and Lee Kuan Yew became the first prime minister of the Republic of Singapore.