Singapore (/( ) / ( listen)), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign city-state and island country in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree (137 kilometres or 85 miles) 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 kilometres or 50 square miles).
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 UK in 1963 by federating with other former British territories to form Malaysia, but separated 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. 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 centre, third-largest oil refining and trading centre 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. Furthermore, its port and Changi Airport have held the titles of "Best Maritime Port" and "Best Airport" respectively for consecutive years.
Singapore ranks 5th on the UN Human Development Index and the 3rd 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,[update] 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-occupied. 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.
The English name of Singapore is an anglicisation of the native Malay name for the country, Singapura, which was in turn derived from Sanskrit (सिंहपुर, IAST: Siṃhapura; siṃha is "lion", pura is "town" or "city"), hence the customary reference to the nation as the Lion City, and its inclusion in many of the nation's symbols (e.g., its coat of arms, Merlion emblem). However, it is unlikely that lions ever lived on the island; Sang Nila Utama, the Srivijayan prince said to have founded and named the island Singapura, perhaps saw a Malayan tiger. There are however other suggestions for the origin of the name and scholars do not believe that the origin of the name is firmly established. The central island has also been called Pulau Ujong as far back as the third century CE, literally "island at the end" (of the Malay Peninsula) in Malay.
Singapore is also referred to as the Garden City for its tree-lined streets and greening efforts since independence, and the Little Red Dot for how the island-nation is depicted on many maps of the world and Asia, as a red dot. Also referred to as the "Switzerland of Asia" in 2017 due to it's neutrality on international and regional issues.