Singapore profile

A chronology of key events:

Colonial trading post

Financial district buildings of Raffles Place

Financial district buildings of Raffles Place: Colonial trading post to teeming metropolis

  • Singapore population: 4 million
  • 1297: Port of Temasek founded
  • 1819: Sir Stamford Raffles sets up trading post
  • 1965: Singapore becomes a republic

1819 - Sir Stamford Raffles of British East India Company establishes trading post on Singapore island.

1826 - Singapore, Malacca and Penang become British colony of the Straits Settlements.

1832 - Singapore becomes capital of Straits Settlements. The port attracts thousands of migrants from China, India and other parts of Asia.

1867 - Straits Settlements become crown colony of British Empire.

1869 - Suez Canal opens, trade booms.

1922 - Singapore becomes main British naval base in East Asia.

1941 - World War II. Japan bombs Singapore.

1942 - Singapore falls to Japan, which renames it Syonan (Light of the South).

1945 - Japan defeated. Singapore under British military administration.

Independence

1946 - Singapore becomes separate crown colony.

Self rule

1959 - Self-government attained with Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister.

1963 - Singapore joins the Federation of Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia.

1965 - Singapore pulls out of the Federation of Malaysia, at Malaysia's invitation, amid political and ethnic tensions. The territory becomes an independent republic and joins the United Nations.

National identity

Lee Kuan Yew in 2000

Former PM Lee Kuan Yew fostered national identity

1967 - Singapore founder member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

1971 - Last British military forces withdrawn.

End of an era

1984 - Two opposition MPs elected to parliament for first time.

1990 - Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew stands down after 31 years, but continues to exert significant influence as senior minister. Goh Chok Tong becomes new prime minister.

1993 - Ong Teng Cheong becomes first directly-elected president.

1994 - Caning of American teenager Michael Fay for vandalising cars grabs world headlines.

1995 - Nick Leeson's disastrous dealings on Singapore stock exchange lead to collapse of Britain's oldest merchant bank, Barings. He is convicted in Singapore and sentenced to six and a half years in jail.

Asian crisis

1997 - Singaporean SilkAir airliner crashes into river in south Sumatra, with the loss of all 104 passengers and crew.

1998 - Singapore slips into recession for the first time in 13 years during Asian financial crisis.

Strict laws

Citizens abide by strict laws, including restrictions on gum

Malaysia bans Singapore's military and rescue planes from its air space, after Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs accuse Malaysia of ''bullying'' during the 1960s.

1999 - S R Nathan becomes president without election after he is declared only candidate eligible to run.

Nick Leeson released early from Singapore jail for good behaviour.

2000 November - Singapore Airlines 747 airliner crashes while taking off in high winds at Taipei airport, killing 81 passengers and crew.

Export-driven

port

Singapore has one of the world's largest ports

2001 - Unprecedented anti-government rally - the first legal demonstration outside election campaign. Hundreds gather to support veteran opposition leader J.B. Jeyaretnam who faces bankruptcy and consequent expulsion from parliament. Malaysia, Singapore agree to end long-standing disputes, are to build a new bridge and tunnel. General election landslide victory for governing People's Action Party which secures all but two of the 84 seats.

2002 January - Japan, Singapore sign free trade agreement.

2003 - Outbreak of pneumonia-like Sars virus; Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong says outbreak is worst crisis country has faced. Singapore becomes first Asian nation to sign free-trade deal with US.

Former PM Goh Chok Tong

Goh Chok Tong

Former PM Goh Chok Tong oversaw economic growth

  • Succeeded Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, in 1990
  • Left office in August 2004, became senior minister in his successor's cabinet

Power transfer

2004 August - Lee Hsien Loong, eldest son of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, is sworn in as prime minister.

2005 - Singapore, Malaysia settle a bitter dispute over land reclamation work in border waters. Government approves a controversial plan to legalise casino gambling, paving way for construction of two multi-billion dollar casino resorts. President S R Nathan begins second term after winning elections from which his rivals were disqualified. Execution of an Australian man for drug smuggling, despite high-level appeals for clemency, is condemned by Australia's attorney-general as barbaric.

2006 May - Lee Hsien Loong's ruling People's Action Party wins general elections which are seen as the first real test of the prime minister's popularity.

2007 January - Two African men are executed for drug smuggling despite worldwide appeals for clemency. Parliament votes against a proposal to decriminalise sex between men.

Trail blazer

First commercial A380 flight lands in Sydney

October 2007: Singapore became the first to operate the world's biggest passenger plane, the Airbus A380 'superjumbo'

2008 February - Mas Selamat Kastari, suspected leader of Islamist militant group Jemaah Islamia, escapes from jail. Security forces mount massive manhunt.

2009 - Singapore appears to emerge from its worst recession on record after the economy expands at an annualised rate of 20.4% between April and June. Appeal court rules that the Far Eastern Economic Review defamed the country's founder Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

2010 November - British author Alan Shadrake convicted for insulting Singapore's judiciary in a book on the death penalty. Singapore still best country in which to run a business, according to a World Bank annual report.

2011 - Ruling People's Action Party (PAP) wins all but six seats in parliament, but opposition parties make unprecedented gains in what PM Lee Hsien Loong calls a "watershed election". Tony Tan is elected president, in the first election of its kind for 18 years.

2012 - January - Government-appointed committee recommends massive pay cuts for ministers including prime minister and president.

2012 May - Opposition Workers' Party wins closely fought by-election, retaining seat left empty after MP expelled by the party in February.

2012 November - Singapore experiences its first strike since the 1980s. Chinese bus drivers walk out complaining their pay is lower than local or Malaysian drivers.

2013 May - Demonstrators hold an unusually large rally to protest against government plans to boost the population, mostly with foreign workers.

2013 June - Singapore calls for urgent action from Indonesia after forest fires produce hazardous levels of air pollution over the state.

2013 December - A riot involving some 400 foreign workers breaks out following the death of an Indian migrant worker knocked down by a bus. It is the first rioting in Singapore in more than 30 years.

2014 March - Singapore becomes the second country in the world after the US to regulate virtual currencies such as bitcoins, in an attempt to prevent money-laundering.

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