Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign city-state and island country in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree (137 kilometers) north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23% (130 square kilometers)
Stamford Raffles founded colonial Singapore in 1819 as a trading post of the British East India Company. After the company's collapse in 1858, the islands were ceded to the British Raj as a crown colony. During the Second World War, Singapore was occupied by Japan. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1963, by federating with other former British territories to form Malaysia, but separated two years later over ideological differences. 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. It has been recognized as the most "technology-ready" nation (WEF), top International-meetings city (UIA), city with "best investment potential" (BERI), world's smartest city, world's safest country, third-most competitive country, third-largest foreign exchange market, third-largest financial center, third-largest oil refining and trading center and the second busiest container port. The country has also been identified as a tax haven. In 2018, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Singapore for the fifth year in a row as the most expensive city to live in the world. Singapore is the only country in Asia with an AAA credit rating from all of the world's major rating agencies, and one of the only few countries worldwide. The Port of Singapore and Changi Airport have held the titles of "Top Maritime Capital" and "Best Airport" respectively for consecutive years, while its national airline Singapore Airlines is the 2018 "World's Best Airline".
Singapore ranks fifth on the UN Human Development Index and the third highest GDP per capita. It is ranked highly in education, healthcare, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety and housing. As of 1 July 2018, Singaporean citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 188 countries and territories, ranking the Singapore passport joint second in the world with Germany, but after Japan, for lack of visa restrictions on the Henley & Partners Passport Index. Although income inequality is high, 90% of homes are owner-occuppied. 39% of Singapore's 5.6 million residents are not citizens. There are four official languages: English (common and first language), Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tamil; almost all Singaporeans are bilingual.
Singapore is a unitary, multiparty, parliamentary republic, with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government. The People's Action Party has won every election since self-government began in 1959. The dominance of the PAP, coupled with a low level of press freedom and restrictions on civil liberties and political rights, has led to Singapore being classified by the Economist Intelligence Unit as a flawed democracy. As one of the five founding members of ASEAN, Singapore is also the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat, and a member of the East Asia Summit, Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth of Nations.
This article is derived from the English Wikipedia article "Singapore"as of 26 Jul 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.