Photo: Yan Biao Boey/flickr
Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world.The city-state’s 5 million people, crammed into an area barely larger than Chicago, generate the 6th-highest GDP in the world.
It wasn’t always so.
Click here to see old images of Singapore >
For years, Singapore was a sleepy colonial backwater of the British Empire. Even after it became independent, many believed it literally would cease to exist as a functioning community.
Lee Kuan Yew, regarded today as the founder of modern Singapore, had this to say about growing up there:
The population was less than a million and most of Singapore was covered by mangrove swamps, rubber plantations, and secondary forest because rubber had failed, and forests around Mandai/Bukit Timah took its place.
When he took control of the country in the ’60s, not very much had changed.
He had to launch a campaign to help Singapore “survive and prosper.”
Thanks to images taken by Flickr user Yin Biao Boey, annotated by us with contemporary New York Times reports, we take you back to this uncertain era in the country’s history.
So what was their secrets to success? The main one was probably that the country spoke English. Lee Kuan Yew, for instance, had studied at Cambridge.
But they also chose to double down on banking. They scrapped lots of taxes and created an Asian dollar market.
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