Singapore’s early history centred on several struggles for power in the region.
During the 14th century, the kingdoms of Siam (now Thailand) and the Java-based Majapahit empire jostled for control over the Malay Peninsula, including Singapore.
One account in the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals) cited Singapore as having been lost in a Majapahit attack. Later, a prince of Palembang, Parameswara (also known as Iskandar Shah), killed the local chief and made himself the new ruler. His reign was short-lived though; soon after, he was driven out (it is unclear if it was by the Siamese or the Javanese forces of the Majapahit empire).
Parameswara then fled north to Muar in the Malay Peninsula, and later founded the Malacca Sultanate. Singapore was to become an important part of the Sultanate, important enough to be the fief of the admirals (laksamanas), including the famous Hang Tuah.
By the early 19th century, Singapore had come under the rule of the Sultan of Johor, who was based in the Riau-Lingga archipelago. One of the Sultan’s senior ministers, the Temenggong, was put in charge of the administration of Johor and Singapore.
Following that, Singapore faced a major historical transformation. In early 1819, the British East India Company founded modern Singapore through an agreement with Sultan Hussein Shah and the Temenggong (See Founding of Modern Singapore for more details).
Singapore’s population at that time consisted of around 1,000 indigenous people. These comprised mainly Malays and Orang Laut (sea nomads) who clustered around the Singapore River, Kallang River, Telok Blangah and along the Johor Straits. There were also some Chinese traders and gambier planters.
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