In the 19th century, the Britain's trade with China became very lucrative. The British sold opium to the Chinese while they get Chinese tea from them to sell in Europe. However, the ships that carried the goods will have to travel through the Straits of Melaka which was under control of the Dutch. Thus, the British felt that they need to have a port for themselves around the Straits of Melaka. Their current ports before they founded Singapore were in Bencoolen and Penang, But they proved to be not so effective.


Bencoolen was situated at the wrong side of summatra, facing the indian ocean instead of the straits of Melaka.


Penang was lying to the far north of the Straits of Melaka, which not really useful for controlling the Straits of Melaka and protecting British Ships using the Straits. Melaka, occupying a better position in the straits, belonged to the Dutch. From Melaka and Java, the Dutch controlled both the Straits of Melaka and the Sunda Straits. They could cut off the valuable trade between Penang and the important trading centres with the Archipelago.

So why Singapore?

There were no Dutch on the island, thus they could avoid conflict with the Dutch

Singapore provided facilities for British ships to dock, refit and replenish

Singapore was located in a strategic location , ideal settlement for China trade

Singapore had a safe harbour( Protection from pirates etc.)


If you were the Dutch, how would you re-act to the situation? Why?