Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, and often referred to as the Lion City or the Little Red Dot, is a sovereign city-state in Southeast Asia, and the world's only island city-state. It lies one degree (137 km) north of the equator, south of the southernmost tip of continental Asia and peninsular Malaysia, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south. Singapore's territory consists of a diamond-shaped main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23% (130 km2), and its greening policy has covered the densely populated island with tropical flora, parks and gardens.
Stamford Raffles founded colonial Singapore in 1819 as a trading post of the East India Company; after the establishment of the British Raj, the islands were ceded to Britain and became part of its Straits Settlements in 1826. During the Second World War, Singapore was occupied by Japan. It gained independence from the UK in 1963 by federating with other former British territories to form Malaysia, but was expelled two years later over ideological differences, becoming a sovereign nation in 1965. After early years of turbulence, and despite lacking natural resources and a hinterland, the nation developed rapidly as an Asian Tiger economy, based on external trade and its workforce.
Singapore is a global commerce, finance and transport hub. Its standings include: the most "technology-ready" nation (WEF), top International-meetings city (UIA), city with "best investment potential" (BERI), second-most competitive country, third-largest foreign exchange market, third-largest financial centre, third-largest oil refining and trading centre, and the second-busiest container port. The country has also been identified as a tax haven.
Singapore is ranked 11th internationally and first in Asia on the UN Human Development Index. It is ranked highly in education, healthcare, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety, and housing, but does not fare well on the Democracy index. Although income inequality is high, 90% of homes are owner-occupied. 38% of Singapore's 5.6 million residents are permanent residents and other foreign nationals. There are four official languages on the island: Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English. English is its common language; most Singaporeans are bilingual.