The island of Singapore was known to mariners at least by the third century A.D. By the seventh century, when a succession of maritime states arose throughout the Malay Archipelago, Singapore probably was one of the many trading outposts serving as an entrepôt and supply point for Malay, Thai, Javanese, Chinese, Indian, and Arab traders.
A fourteenth-century Javanese chronicle referred to the island as Temasek, and a seventeenth-century Malay annal noted the 1299 founding of the city of Singapura (“lion city”) after a strange, lion-like beast that had been sighted there
Places To Visit
Singapore Botanic Gardens
At this time of the day, downtown Singapore's last remaining green lung is a cool, bucolic retreat filled with joggers, dogs and tai-chi practitioners.
Timings: Open 5 a.m. to midnight
The Financial District
The area south of the mouth of the Singapore River was swamp until land reclamation in the mid-1820s rendered it fit for building. Within just a few years, Commercial Square here had become the colony’s busiest business address, boasting the banks, ships’ chandlers and warehouses of a burgeoning trading port. The square was later Singapore’s main shopping area until superseded by Orchard Road in the late 1960s; today the square, now called Raffles Place, forms the nucleus of Singapore’s Financial District.
It would be hard to conjure an image more at odds with the present reality of Orchard Road than historian Mary Turnbull’s depiction of a colonial-era “country lane lined with bamboo hedges and shrubbery, with trees meeting overhead”. A hundred years ago, merchants here for their daily constitutionals would have strolled past rows of nutmeg trees, followed at a discreet distance by their manservants.