Singapore's history dates back to the 14th century, when the island was part of the Sri Vijayan Empire and called Temasek (meaning "sea town"). The name "Singapore" is derived from the Malay word "Singapura" or "lion city". Legend has it that a visiting Sri Vijayan prince, Sang Nila Utama, saw an animal he mistook for a lion (it was probably a tiger) and Singapore's modern name was born.

In 1819, British civil servant SIr Stamford Raffles established the city as a trading station for the British Empire. On 16 September 1963, Singapore joined the Malaysian Federation (but with its own government), before achieving independence as a Republic on Aug 9, 1965.

Singapore is a carefully planned and maintained city. But development has not meant the disappearance of natural green spaces. Singapore is proud to be called the Garden City, and with over 400 public parks, the name is rather well-deserved. Singapore is also one of only two cities in the world (the other being Rio de Janeiro) to have a significant area of primary rainforest within its boundaries.

Singapore is not just one island - it comprises a main island over 60 surrounding islets. The mainland is 42km east to west and 23km north to south, and home to about 5.5 million people - primarily ethnic Chinese, Malays and Indians; including a sizable expatriate population. This multiracial element has resulted in a unique Singaporan identity and a country that boasts four official languages: English, Tamil, Chinese, and Malay, with English being the language of business and administration.

From cuisines to ethnic enclaves, Singapore's identity is a marriage of influences from the Arabs, Chinese, Indians, Malays and Europeans who settled here in the early days.

In less than a generation, Singapore has morphed from a developing country into one of the most modern and sophisticated nations in the world. Most of the population lives in government-built apatment blocks, which are clustered around suburban towns such as Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bishan, Clementi, Hougang, Jurong New Town, Marine Parade, Pasir Ris, Sengkang, Tampines and Yishun.

Singapore's unique mix of bustling modernity, coupled with a strong cultural heritage, will truly make your visit an unforgettable one!

To learn more about Singapore's unique and interesting history, consider making a visit to  the National Museum of Singapore during your holiday.