SINGAPORE (Jan 28): Jan 29 marks the date, two centuries ago, that British East India Company agent Thomas Stamford Raffles set foot in Singapore. But Raffles would probably not recognise the place at which he was said to have disembarked, surrounded as it is today by skyscrapers of glass and steel.

Those buildings are, in some ways, measures of just how far Singapore has come in the two centuries since it was established as a trading post for the British Empire. Much of this success has been predicated on the fact that the island was turned into a free port, being favourably located in the lucrative trade route between the East and the West. The spice trade flourished and Singapore later focused on petrochemicals and oil bunkering, manufacturing exports, and cross-border financial services.

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