Singapore Table of Contents
Figure 2. The Johore Sultanate, ca. 1700
Source: Based on information from Constance M. Turnbull, A Short History of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, Stanmore, N.S.W., 1980, 61; and Tan Ding Eing, Portrait of Malaysia and Singapore, Singapore, 1975, 22.
Located astride the sea routes between China and India, from ancient times the Malay Archipelago served as an entrepôt, supply point, and rendezvous for the sea traders of the kingdoms and empires of the Asian mainland and the Indian subcontinent. The trade winds of the South China Sea brought Chinese junks laden with silks, damasks, porcelain, pottery, and iron to seaports that flourished on the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra and Java. There they met with Indian and Arab ships, brought by the monsoons of the Indian Ocean, carrying cotton textiles, Venetian glass, incense, and metalware. Fleets of swift prahu (interisland craft) supplied fish, fruit, and rice from Java and pepper and spices from the Moluccas in the eastern part of the archipelago. All who came brought not only their trade goods but also their cultures, languages, religions, and technologies for exchange in the bazaars of this great crossroads.
In time, the ports of the peninsula and archipelago formed the nucleus of a succession of seabased kingdoms, empires, and sultanates. By the late seventh century, the great maritime Srivijaya Empire, with its capital at Palembang in eastern Sumatra, had extended its rule over much of the peninsula and archipelago. Historians believe that the island of Singapore was probably the site of a minor port of Srivijaya.
Data as of December 1989