Singapore airport is a major hub, so I suppose I was bound to end up there sooner or later. It’s also a small country, so when you do end up at the airport, why not take an extra day and see the city?
According to Malay legend, Singapore was founded in the 14th century, though it was apparently mostly destroyed by the Portuguese in the 16th century, sending the island into obscurity for the next two centuries.
That obscurity ended in 1819, when Sir Stamford Raffles decided that Britain should replace the Netherlands as the dominant power in the region, and that Singapore was an ideal place to build a new center of trade and influence.
The British established a new free port in Singapore - meaning any vessel of any nation could come in to trade without tariffs - and the boom began. Singapore attracted immigrants from all over, and grew rapidly. The trade volume went from $400,000 Spanish dollars in 1819 to $22,000,000 by 1824, with the city’s population growing rapidly during this time. The British resolved their dispute with the Dutch in 1824, and cemented Singapore as British territory, with Britain giving up influence in modern-day Indonesia. The city continued to boom and expand on the strength of its trade.
Singapore was occupied by Japan during 1942-1945, and after a brief 2-year union with Malaysia that did not go well became an independent state in 1965.
Since independence, Singapore has rapidly modernized and remains a trade hub, with per capita GDP of some $66,000 (7th in the world - just ahead of the US), with a Gini coefficient of about 46 (indicating medium inequality; about the same as the US) and Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.932 (9th in the world). Population is about 6 million, made up ethnic Chinese, Malays, Indians, and others, who all seem to get along fine.
A lot of this was achieved under Lee Kuan Yew, aka LKY, who was the country’s first Prime Minister, serving from 1959 to 1990. LKY “is recognised as the nation’s founding father, with the country described as transitioning from the “third world country to first world country in a single generation” under his leadership.” wikipedia
The amazing story of Singapore is well-told by the National Museum - go there if you’re in town.