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 hearing before the ICJ was held over three weeks in November 2007. Eventually, on 23 May 2008, the Court ruled that Pedra Branca is under Singapore's sovereignty, while Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia. It also ruled that South Ledge belongs to the state in the territorial waters of which it is located, as it is a maritime feature visible only at low tide. Malaysia and Singapore have established what they have named the Joint Technical Committee to delimit the maritime boundary in the area around Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks, and to determine the ownership of South Ledge.
Tao made her Olympic début for Singapore at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She qualified for the 100 metres finals, ranking fourth in the semifinals with a time of 57.54 seconds and setting two Asian records in two days. She thus became the first Singaporean swimmer to enter an Olympic final.
... that the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, a Singaporean body that ensures laws do not discriminate against racial or religious minorities, has not issued an adverse report since its creation?