SINGAPORE & MALAYSIA
Singapore officially the Republic of Singapore, is a southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, 137 kilometers (85 mi) north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia’s Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to its south. The country is highly urbanized with very little primary rainforest remaining, although more land is being created for development through land reclamation.
Part of various local empires since being inhabited in the 2nd century AD, Singapore hosted a trading post of the East India Company in 1819 with permission from the Sultanate of Johor. The British obtained sovereignty over the island in 1824 and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826. Occupied by the Japanese in World War II, Singapore declared independence, uniting with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963, although it was separated from Malaysia two years later. Since then it has had a massive increase in wealth, and is one of the Four Asian Tigers. Singapore is the world’s fourth leading financial centre, and its port is one of the five busiest ports in the world. The economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing, which constituted 26% of Singapore’s GDP in 2005.
The green, ramshackle capital sprawls around a harbor on the east coast of South Andaman and is the administrative nerve centre of the islands. There’s plenty to see in town relating to the islands’ colonial past plus a couple of interesting museums, and as this is the only place to change money, reliably access the internet and book (and wait for) onward transport, most travelers will spend at least a couple of days here. If you want to experience the more natural beauty of the Andaman – above and below the water – book a ferry and move on to Havelock or one of the other islands. Mythological, the name Andaman was presumed to be derived from Hanuman, who was known to the Malays as Handuman. Since Prehistoric times, these islands were the home of aboriginal tribes. The tribes of, the Andaman group of islands are the Great Anamneses, Onges, Jarawas, and Sentinatese, all of Negrito origin, while the tribes of Nicobars are the Nicobarese and Shompens, both of Mongoloid stock. The first settlement by the British took place in 1789, which was later abandoned in 1796. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858, after the First War of Independence, followed by the settlement of convicts, Moplas, some criminal tribes from Central and United Provinces, refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka as well as ex-servicemen.