Singapore officially the Republic of Singapore, and often referred to as the Lion City, the Garden City, and the Red Dot, is a leading global city-state and island country in Southeast Asia. It lies at the southernmost tip of continental Asia, one degree (137 km; 85 mi) north of the equator, and is separated from Peninsular Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to the north and from Indonesia’s Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to the south. Singapore’s territory consists of the diamond-shaped main island (commonly referred to as Singapore Island and Pulau Ujong in Malay) and more than 60 significantly smaller islets. Since the 1960s, ongoing land reclamation have increased Singapore’s land area, which is highly urbanised, by at least 20%.
The islands were settled from the second century AD by a series of local empires. In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore as a trading post of the East India Company; after the company collapsed, the islands were ceded to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and became part of its Straits Settlements in 1826. During World War II, Singapore was invaded and occupied by Japan. It became independent from Britain in 1963 by uniting with other former British territories to form Malaysia, but was expelled two years later over ideological differences. After experiencing turbulence in its early years, and despite lacking natural resources and a hinterland, Singapore developed rapidly as an Asian tiger economy, based on external trade and its human capital.
Singapore is a global commerce, transportation and financial hub, ranked as the “Easiest place to do business” for nine consecutive years by the World Bank. It is the world’s top meeting city (UIA) and Asia’s top convention city since 2002 (ICCA). Globally, it is the “City with the best investment potential” (BERI), 2nd most competitive country, 3rd-largest foreign exchange centre, 4th-largest financial centre and one of the top two busiest container ports since the 1990s. Singapore’s best known global brands include Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Changi Airport, both amongst the most-awarded in their industry; SIA is also rated by Fortune surveys as Asia’s “most admired company”. For the past decade, Singapore has been the only Asian country with the top AAA sovereign rating from all major credit rating agencies, including S&P, Moody’s and Fitch.
Singapore ranks high on key measures of national social progress, It leads Asia, and 9th globally, on the Human Development Index, including education, healthcare, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety, housing. Although income inequality is high, 90% of citizens own their homes and the nation has one of the highest per capita incomes. The cosmopolitan and culturally diverse nation is home to 5.5 million residents, 38% of whom are permanent residents and other foreign nationals. Singaporeans—Chinese (74.1%), Malays (13.4%), Indians (9.2%), and Eurasians—are mostly bilingual, with English as its common language and a second mother-tongue language.
The nation’s core principles are meritocracy, multiculturalism and secularism. It is noted for its effective, pragmatic and incorrupt governance and civil service, which together with its rapid development policies, is widely cited as the “Singapore model”. Gallup polls shows 84% of its residents expressed confidence in the national government, one of the highest ratings in the world.
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 in 1959. One of the five founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore is also the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat, and a member of the East Asia Summit, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth of Nations. Singapore has significant influence on global affairs relative to its size, leading some analysts to classify it as a middle power. It is ranked as Asia’s most influential city and 4th in the world by Forbes.
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