As tensions with Japan arose in the 1930s the
British set up a naval base in Singapore, one
of the world's largest naval bases. However, when World War II broke out, the
British were pre-occupied in Europe and in 1942 the Japanese
easily overran the Malay Peninsula, leading to the surrender
of Singapore. Under Japanese rule the people were treated harshly, especially the
ethnic Chinese, who made up the island's majority and
who the Japanese disliked in general.
After the war, the British surrender hurt their image
in the eyes of the locals and soon people started thinking about independence. By
the late 1950s the island was given domestic self-rule and in 1963
Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia along
with what is today Malaysia and Brunei.
The union with Malaysia was short lived though as the Chinese in Singapore disagreed
with numerous policies of the Malaysian government, most significantly giving special
rights and privileges to ethnic Malays. This led to protests and
Indonesian intervention, who fought the new Malaysia as he sought lands
in northern Borneo.
As the violence escalated on all sides, Malaysia expelled
Singapore from the federation in 1965 without letting
the British know until after the vote. That same
day the Parliament in Singapore passed an act to become an independent republic.
Singapore was immediately faced with a growing communist
movement, unemployment, and numerous other issues. This was countered by making
the country an oil refinery center and by making English the de facto language to
improve international trade and economic opportunities.
In the 1980s and 1990s Singapore has gotten more involved
in the high tech industries and trading; they also began pushing tourism as housing
and infrastructure was heavily developed.
In the 2000s the country has had a couple setbacks. There were some terrorist threats
by Islamic extremists and the financial crisis in Asia slowed
the economy. There was also an outbreak of SARS, which led to panic. The economy
is again on the right path though as legalized gambling has led to a large income