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THE
NATIONAL
GEOGRAPHIC
MAGAZINE

COPYRIGHT. 1926. BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY. WASHINGTON D. C. IN THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN

SINGAPORE, CROSSROADS OF THE EAST
The World's Greatest Mart for Rubber and Tin
Was in Recent Times a Pirate-haunted,

Tiger-infested Jungle Isle

BY FREDERICK SIMPICH

AUTHOR OF "THE GEOGRAPHY of Our Foreign Trade," "The STORY OF THĘ Ruhr," "A MEXICAN LAND

OF CANAAN," ETC., IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Magazine

S

INGAPORE, the Lion City, Cross- Orient-a romance linked with the name

roads of the East! Every time you of Raffles, that adventurous Englishman

open a tin can or have a blow-out whose career has gone down in the annals you make business for Singapore, for it of the East with that of Albuquerque, of boasts the biggest tin smelters in the Chinese Gordon and Warren Hastings. world and three-fourths of all our rubber comes out of Malaya.

A JUNGLE ISLAND A CENTURY AGO And, in all the swift, significant changes Away back in history, before even the wrought by white men in the East, no days of Marco Polo, the Malays had one event stands out more conspicuously founded their powerful States and set up than the rapid rise of Singapore. From an empire on their peninsula. Then came a jungle isle, where tigers ate men at the Portuguese and laid waste to the night, to a magnificent city, tenth among strongholds of the sultans, leaving colothe ports of the world, in less than a nists whose descendants, bearing long, century! A boom-town record this might aristocratic names oddly out of place be, even in new America, but striking among Malay cognomens, are still found indeed when one thinks of the remote throughout the Indies. geographic position of Singapore and the After the Portuguese came the Dutch, many centuries which other oriental cities sweeping from Malacca to Manila, only have taken in the building.

to be followed later by the British, who, Its place on the map, its strategic po- with their genius for colonization, are sition here at the crossroads of the East, here to this day. forced it to a growth at once unique and It was this British adventure, about a astonishing. Last year nearly 10,000 hundred years ago, that lured Stamford ships cut the cobalt-blue seas of the Ma- Raffles, born at sea, into this restless lacca Strait, tying up the trade of Singa- region of the then unknown East. And pore with Europe, Africa, and India, with Fate willed that he should found this Australia, China, Japan, and the Americas. great Singapore.

And how Singapore came to be a city Singapore was not conquered like Hinis one of the latter-day romances of the dustan, nor acquired as a ready-made

[graphic]

© Burton Holmes from Galloway "THE LION city's” TEEMING HARBOR AND WATERFRONT, AS SEEN FROM THE AMERICAN CONSULATE Within little more than a century, a tiny fishing village on a jungle isle, tiger-infested and pirate-haunted, metamorphosed itself into a metropolis of the British Empire and “a great international turnstile of commerce. Its dizzy, picturesque career is largely due to its strategic position at the southern extremity of Asia, on the great water highroad between India and China (see map, page 238), and to Sir Stamford Raffles' insistence that it be a free port.

Photograph by Charles B. Beery SINGAPORE, LIKE CANTON, HAS A CHINESE BOAT COLONY Several thousand Chinese, some of whom never set foot on land, use these boats not only as a means of livelihood, but as a place of living. In them are all the impedimenta of a home, including the chickens and a dog and cat. A mat canopy or awning usually covers the middle part of the sampan, which is propelled by a long, single oar projecting from the stern.

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Drawn by A. H. Bumstead A SKETCH MAP SHOWING THE STRATEGIC GEOGRAPHIC POSITION OF SINGAPORE The tenth port of the world owes its prosperity primarily to its key position at the crossroads

of the East. In the upper right corner is a more detailed map of the Malay Peninsula.

colony, like Hongkong; it was simply Across to the Johore mainland a great bought as New York was, and settled, granite causeway has been thrown, and on when Sir Stamford Raffles selected it as up through the Malay Peninsula the railan outpost for British traders on the ways have been driven, till now Bangkok, China route and purchased it for the a thousand miles away in Siam, is tied up East India Company from the Sultan of by rail with Singapore,* and on to the Johore. It was a jungle-covered island northwest the rails are stretching out to then, peopled by a few score savage Ma- Rangoon, to India, to the Persian fronlayfisherfolk hovering along its man- tier, soon to Bagdad, perhaps, and then grove-swamp shallows, dreading the tigers on to Paris—the path of flying men from and pythons and cut off from all the out- London to Sydney. side world.

Where once the choking jungle crowded

men back—a jungle so thick that a man NOW A CITY OF MARBLE BUILDINGS

swimming in a stream could hardly land Now it is a wonder city, with marble because vines and plants hugged so close bank buildings of singular beauty and to the water's edge—broad fields have great stone law courts and government now been cleared, and Malaya plantations edifices and Christian churches—all in are among the richest in the world. striking contrast to the ornamental Malay Forty-five years ago a few Pará rubber mosques, the carved temples of the Hin- plants smuggled out of Brazil fruited dus, and the fantastic joss houses of the here. To-day, three-fourths of the world's Chinese.

* See_"Hunting the Chaulmoogra Tree," by Through the thick jungle, where once Joseph F. Rock, in the NationAL GEOGRAPHIC led only the elephant paths, wide, level MAGAZINE for March, 1922. roads have now been built, and the hoarse

† See “From London to Australia by Aëro

plane,” by Sir Ross Smith, K. B. E., in the squawk of the motor horn has drowned

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for March, the fierce growls of the lurking tiger. 1921.

[graphic]

DIVING FOR COINS Young Malays in dugout canoes paddle out to meet the Singapore steamers, and shriek and wave for the passengers to toss money into the water. They bail the canoes with a sweep of the foot, keeping regular time to the paddle's dip (see, also, text, page 248).

OF ASIA

rubber comes from this region. And in pore or Penang during his few hours this magic development Americans have ashore while his ship is coaling. played a leading role.

AT THE END OF THE MELTING POT This Malay Peninsula, stretching hundreds of miles from the Siamese frontier down toward the Equator, forms a vast Singapore, built on a tiny green isle of humid region of dense forests of jungle, the same name, which lies just off the wild elephants, snakes, and naked people, end of the peninsula and nearly on the rice fields, rubber plantations, and tin Equator, is the capital of the British mines. Few American tourists see it; crown colony commonly called the Straits those visiting the Orient usually turn back Settlements. This colony embraces the at Hongkong or Manila, and the average Province Wellesley, the Dindings and traveler from Europe goes no farther Malacca on the mainland, and the islands than Egypt or the Holy Land. Only the of Penang and Singapore. round-the-world tripper sees Malaya, and The Federated Malay States, on the he usually gets a glimpse only of Singa- peninsula, comprise the States of Perak,

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