The British East India Company established a trading post on the island in 1819. The main settlement up to that point was a Malay fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several hundred indigenous Orang Laut people also lived around the coast, rivers and smaller islands. The British used Singapore as a strategic trading post along the spice route. It became one of the most important commercial and military centres of the British Empire. Winston Churchill called it "Britain's greatest defeat" when it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Singapore reverted to British rule in 1945. In 1963, it merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. Less than two years later it split from the federation and became an independent republic on August 9, 1965. Singapore joined the United Nations on September 21 that same year.
Since independence, Singapore's standard of living has increased. A state-led industrialization drive, aided by foreign direct investment has created a modern economy based on electronics manufacturing, petrochemicals, tourism and financial services alongside the traditional entrepôt trade. Singapore is the 17th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. The small nation has a foreign reserve of S$222 billion (US$147 billion).
Labrador was named after Labrador Bay which it overlooks the deep and calm water off its shores. The Long Ya Men (龙牙门) or Dragon's Teeth Gate, two craggy granite outcrops formerly stood on each side of the entrance to the New Harbour (now Keppel Harbour) as a navigation landmark to ancient mariners. The two rock outcrops were subsequently blown up by the Straits SettlementSurveyor, John Thomson, in August 1848 to widen the entrance to the harbour.
Teresa Hsu Chih (Chinese: 许哲; pinyin: Xǔ Zhe) was a Chinese-born Singaporean social worker. She was known affectionately as "Singapore's Mother Teresa" for her active lifelong devotion in helping the aged sick and destitutes in Singapore. She was the founder of the non-profit charities Heart to Heart Service and the Home for the Aged Sick, one of the first homes for the aged sick in Singapore. Before coming to Singapore, Teresa had been a social worker in China and Paraguay and a nurse in England. She led a simple and humble lifestyle, and spent almost all her savings on feeding and housing the poor and the elderly.
As a supercentenarian, Teresa was still actively involved in charity work, and she has the distinction of being one of the very few supercentenarians who were recognized for reasons other than their longevity. She was the oldest living person in Singapore at the time of her death.