Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is the only city-state in the world that is also an island, located in Southeast Asia off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, 137 kilometers (85 miles) north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to its south. The country is highly urbanized with very little primary rainforest remaining, although more land is being created for development through land reclamation. About five and a half million people live in Singapore, of which 2.91 million were born locally. The population is highly varied; the majority are Chinese which comprise almost 75% of the total population, while Malays and Indians forming significant minorities. Reflecting this diversity, the country has four official languages: English (the official working language), Malay (the national language), Chinese and Tamil.
Part of various local empires since being inhabited in the second century AD, the modern Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the East India Company in 1819 with the permission from the Johor Sultanate. The British obtained sovereignty over the island in 1824 and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826. Occupied by the Japanese during World War II, Singapore declared independence from the United Kingdom, uniting with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963, although it was separated from Malaysia two years later. Since then, it has had a massive increase in wealth, and is one of the Four Asian Tigers.
Singapore is the world's fourth-leading financial center, and its port is one of the five busiest ports in the world. The economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing, which constituted 26% of Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005. In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore has the third-highest per capita income in the world. One of the five founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the country is also the host of the APEC Secretariat, and a member of the East Asia Summit, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth of Nations.
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