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Singapore Table of Contents




Singapore Malay fishing village, nineteenth century
Courtesysg Library of Congress


Rattan harvesting in nineteenth-century Singapore
Courtesy Library of Congress


Figure 3. The Straits Settlements, 1826

Source: Based on information from Gerald Percy Dartford, A Short History of Malaya, London, 1957, 102; and Constance M. Turnbull, The Straits Settlements, 1826-67, London, 1972.

By the early seventeenth century, both the Dutch and the English were sending regular expeditions to the East Indies. The English soon gave up the trade, however, and concentrated their efforts on India. In 1641 the Dutch captured Malacca and soon after replaced the Portuguese as the preeminent European power in the Malay Archipelago. From their capital at Batavia on Java, they sought to monopolize the spice trade. Their short-sighted policies and harsh treatment of offenders, however, impoverished their suppliers and encouraged smuggling and piracy by the Bugis and other peoples. By 1795, the Dutch enterprise in the East was losing money and, in Europe, the Netherlands was at war with France. The Dutch king fled to Britain where, in desperation, he issued the Kew Letters, by which all Dutch overseas territories were temporarily placed under British authority in order to keep them from falling to the French.

Data as of December 1989