There is not much written history concerning Singapore from before the arrival of the British but references to what now is Singapore can be found in 14th century documents from several Asian states under names such as Puluozhong ie. “Island at the End” and Temasek, ie. "Water Town", a name still commonly encountered. The island received its current name in the late 14th century when, as the story goes, the ruler of Palembang (in present day Indonesia), landed at Temasek one day while seeking shelter from a storm. Sighting an animal he took to be a lion, he decided to establish a settlement which he named Singapura, i.e. "Lion City".
Singapore’s position at the entrance of the Melacca Straits made, and makes, it a desirable location from a trading / shipping point of view. Singapore was however largely uninhabited until the British East India Company founded a settlement in 1819 with consent of the Sultan of Johor, it’s ruler. The founder, and father, of modern Singapore is therefore generally seen as Sir Stamford Raffles of that Company.
The British settlement grew quickly becoming an important port of call for the merchant fleet. Singapore itself was also developed and rubber plantations were established. The growth of Singapore as a trading post has basically not stopped since. The growth of the port city attracted many adventurers, merchants and laborers from the Straits, Malaysia, India and China laying the foundations for it’s multicultural make-up today.
The island was occupied by the Japanese from February 1942 till late in WWII when it was returned to the British. After the war however there was an increase in demands from the population for more say in the government leading to self-governance in 1959 and joining of the Malaysian Federation in 1963. This relation however was short lived leading to full independence on 9 August 1965 when it became a sovereign and independent nation, celebrated as national day, after which on 22 December 1965 the Republic of Singapore was formally established.