Sentosa, island, is the largest of Singapore's southern Islands. It functioned as an island fortress and a military base in colonial times, and with the Japanese occupation during World War II, it became a prisoner-of-war camp. Today, the island is a nature and recreation resort managed by the Sentosa Development Corporation. It was previously known as Pulau Blakang Mati or Pulo Panjang.
In order to signal the approach of vessels to the harbour, a flagstaff was erected in March or April 1833,on Sentosa, originally known as Pulau Blakang Mati. The flagstaff was removed in 1835. An 1844 Map drawn by J. T. Thomson showed Pineapple Gardens on the island, indicating the presence of pineapple plantations. Because of Sentosa's strategic location, the island was a fortress from 1887. On 1 April 1890, Fort Blakan Mati East, was renamed Fort Connaught.
Fort Siloso on the western side still has old tunnelled underground passages, bunkers, and gun emplacements, dating back to the late 19th century. This former military base was captured by the Japanese and was used as a prisoner-of-war camp in World War II. It was returned to the Republic by the British War Office in 1967, as part of the British Troops withdrawal from Singapore. The island was renamed Sentosa in 1970, meaning "Isle of Tranquillity" in Malay, and developed into a recreational area in 1972. Since then the island has been managed by the Sentosa Development Corporation. Sentosa today offers educational insights into nature and history and is a recreation resort filled with fantasy. Transformed from a military base into a huge amusement park with rides, shows, museums, gardens, golf courses, beaches, aquariums, exhibitions, sports facilities, nature parks, bars, food facilities, the island draws both tourists and locals through its own causeway, ferry boat connections and by Cable Car. Not surprising it won the 9th Tourism Award in 1994 for the "Leisure Attraction of the Year".
Original Name: The original name was Pulo Panjang or "Long Island" (seen in Captain Franklin's 1822 chart)
Malay Name: It became Pulau Blakang Mati (spelt also as Blakan Mati) meaning "Behind Death" after legend had it that a Malay had been murdered behind the hill. The name is also thought to be an allusion to the piracy and bloodshed that once pervaded the island.
Other Name: Captain Edward Lake of the Bengal Engineers renamed it "Island of St. George" in the late 1820s. The English also called it "The Barren Isle" as the soil of the island was supposedly sterile.
Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819-1867 (pp. 229, 272, 240, 573). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC)
Discovering Singapore Sentosa in the Making (1972, January 15) [Microfilm: NL 6975]. New Nation, p. 7.
Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1, pp. 382, 477; Vol. 2, p. 546). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE)
Notice [on renaming of Pulau Blakang Mati to Sentosa] (Republic of Singapore Government Gazette Extraordinary Notification No. 2873/70).
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SGG-[HIS])
Origin of name 'Blakang Mati' (1970, October 9). Singapore Herald, p. 20.
Sentosa Development Corporation (Singapore). (1973). Annual report. Singapore: The Corporation.
(Call no.: RCLOS 354.5957092 SDCAR)
Great Britain, Admiralty. (1934). Malacca Strait pilot, comprising Malacca Strait and its northern approaches, Singapore Strait and the west coast of Sumatra (2nd ed.) [Microfilm: NL 17979]. London: Hydrographic Dept.
(Call no.: RDTYS 623.8929595 GRE)
Great Britain, Admiralty. (1946). Malacca Strait pilot, comprising Malacca Strait and its northern approaches, Singapore Strait and the west coast of Sumatra (3rd ed.) [Microfilm: NL 17979]. London: Hydrographic Dept.
(Call no.: RCLOS 623.8929595 GRE)
The information in this article is valid as at 2001 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.
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Sentosa (Singapore)--Description and travel
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