The history of botanic gardens in Singapore began in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles (the founder of Singapore and a keen naturalist) founded a botanic garden on Government Hill. This first botanic garden had to close in 1829, but the British government and trading companies initiated the development of botanic gardens for the research, cultivation and preservation of native plants. Today’s Botanic Gardens were established in 1859 by an agri-horticultural society on a 23ha large area. In 1866 the Garden was extended and the Swan Lake was dredged. In 1874 the society got financial problems and gave the Botanic Garden to the government. In 1875 the garden got a new Superintendent. He set up a library and a herbarium.
Today the Singapore Botanic Gardens are circa 74ha large and there are 8300 taxa in cultivation in the Botanic Garden, 650000 specimens in the herbarium and 30000 books and 41000 rare books in the library. The Botanical Gardens are since 2015 Singapore's first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site.