The British East India Company established a trading post on the island in 1819. The main settlement up to that point was a Malay fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several hundred indigenous Orang Laut people also lived around the coast, rivers and smaller islands. The British used Singapore as a strategic trading post along the spice route. It became one of the most important commercial and military centres of the British Empire. Winston Churchill called it "Britain's greatest defeat" when it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Singapore reverted to British rule in 1945. In 1963, it merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. Less than two years later it split from the federation and became an independent republic on August 9, 1965. Singapore joined the United Nations on September 21 that same year.
Since independence, Singapore's standard of living has increased. A state-led industrialization drive, aided by foreign direct investment has created a modern economy based on electronics manufacturing, petrochemicals, tourism and financial services alongside the traditional entrepôt trade. Singapore is the 3rd wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. The small nation has a foreign reserve of S$222 billion (US$147 billion).
The durian (/ˈdjʊəriən,-æn/) is the fruit of trees from the genusDurio belonging to the Malvaceae, a large family which includes hibiscus, okra, cotton, mallows, and linden trees. Widely known and revered in Southeast Asia as the "King of Fruits", the fruit is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale-yellow to red, depending on the species.
The durian is sometimes featured in the popular culture of Singapore. The durian was a nickname for the protagonist of the Singaporean TV comedy Durian King, and the oddly shaped Esplanade building in Singapore is often called "The Durian" by locals. Despite its great local popularity, the raw fruit is forbidden from some establishments such as hotels, subways and airports, including public transportation in Singapore.
In 1983, Neila was appointed the dance instructor and choreographer for the Indian Dance Group of the People's Association (PA), and remains its resident choreographer. She is also an artistic adviser to the National Arts Council. Up to 2007, Neila had also choreographed dance segments for the last 13 Chingay Parades. For her contributions to dance, Neila was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 1989.