Singapore was ‘founded’ as a ‘trading-post’ of the British East India Company in the early nineteenth century, as part of the expansion of European colonization and mercantile capitalism. Since then, its position as the primary port of Southeast Asia has seldom been challenged. The commercial free-port status was further augmented by the establishment in Singapore of the most important naval base of the British colonial and maritime power in the Far East. By the time the British shut its naval installations in 1968, three years after the political independence of the city-state, the free port of Singapore may be said to have had no rivals in the Southeast Asia region.