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).
The raids had mixed results. While significant damage was inflicted on Singapore's important naval base and commercial port, some raids on these targets were not successful and other attacks on oil storage facilities on islands near Singapore were ineffective. The Allied air attacks were, however, successful in raising the morale of Singapore's civilian population. The overall number of civilian casualties from the bombings was low, though one attack rendered hundreds of people homeless and civilian workers were killed during attacks on military facilities. Only nine B-29s were shot down during this bombing campaign.
Woon was a Nominated Member of Parliament between 1992 and 1996. He became the first Member of Parliament since 1965 to have a private member's bill become a public law in Singapore – the Maintenance of Parents Act, which was passed in 1995. Between 1997 and 2006, Woon served in a number of diplomatic capacities, including the Ambassador to Germany and the Ambassador to Belgium. He served as Attorney-General between 2008 and 2010. He is currently professor of law at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Law and the Dean of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education.
The Changi Beach Park (Chinese: 樟宜海滨公园) is a beach park located at the northeastern tip of Singapore. The 28-hectare Changi Beach Park is one of the oldest coastal parks in Singapore. The park is 3.2 km long with stretches of sandy beaches between Changi Point and Changi Ferry Road.