According to Malay legend(马来传说), a Sumatran (苏门答腊人) prince encountered a lion - considered a good omen - on Temasek, prompting him to found Singapura, or Lion City. It mattered little that lions had never inhabited Singapore (more likely the prince had seen a tiger); what did matter was the establishment of the region as a minor trading post for the powerful Sumatran Srivijaya empire and as a subsequent vassal state (封建时代的诸侯国) of the Javanese(爪哇人的)Majapahit empire in the mid-13th century.

Singapore might have remained a quiet backwater(荒僻处)if not for Sir Stamford Raffles' intervention in 1819. The British had first established a presence in the Straits of Malacca (now called Melaka)(马六甲海峡)in the 18th century when the East India Company set out to secure and protect its line of trade from China to the colonies in India. Fearing another resurgence(卷土重来)of expansionism(扩张主义) in the Dutch - which had been the dominant European trading power in the region for nearly 200 years - Raffles(废弃的物品) argued for an increased British presence, which he was promptly given. Under his tutelage(指导,托管), Singapore's forlorn(荒凉的) reputation as a fetid(有恶臭的), disease-ridden (疾病盛行)colony was soon forgotten. Migrants attracted by a tariff-free port poured in by the thousands, and a flourishing colony with a military and naval base was established.