Singapore, formally the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island nation and city-state in Southeast Asia's maritime region. It is located approximately one degree north of the equator (137 kilometers or 85 miles) off the southern point of the Malay Peninsula, bordering the Malacca Strait to the west, the Singapore Strait to the south, the South China Sea to the east, and the Johor Straits to the north. The territory of the nation is made up of one main island, 63 satellite islands and islets, and one outlying islet, the total size of which has grown by 25% since the country's independence due to massive land reclamation efforts. It boasts the world's third greatest population density. Singapore has four official languages, English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil, in recognition of the need to protect the cultural identities of the nation's main ethnic groups. English is the language franca, and many public services are only accessible in English. Multiculturalism is written into the constitution and influences national policy in education, housing, and politics.
Singapore has a millennium of history, beginning as a maritime port known as Temasek and later as a significant component element of multiple succeeding thalassocratic empires. Its modern history started in 1819, when Stamford Raffles founded Singapore as a British Empire entrepôt commercial station. The Southeast Asian colonies were reorganized in 1867, and Singapore became directly under British rule as part of the Straits Settlements. Singapore was controlled by Japan during WWII and reverted to the British administration as a distinct crown colony after Japan's defeat in 1945. Singapore obtained self-government in 1959 and joined the new Malaysian federation in 1963, together with Malaya, North Borneo, and Sarawak. Ideological differences, most notably the perceived encroachment of Lee Kuan Yew's egalitarian "Malaysian Malaysia" political ideology into Malaysia's other constituent entities – at the expense of the Bumiputera and Ketuanan Melayu policies – eventually led to Singapore's expulsion from the federation two years later; Singapore became an independent sovereign country in 1965.
After experiencing early turbulence due to a lack of natural resources and a hinterland, the country quickly developed to become one of the Four Asian Tigers based on international trade and economic globalization, integrating itself into the world economy through free trade with minimal to no trade barriers or tariffs, export-oriented industrialization, and a large accumulation of received foreign direct investment, foreign-exchange reserves, and assets held by sovereign wealth funds. It is a developed nation that ranks joint-eleventh on the UN Human Development Index and has the world's second-highest GDP per capita (PPP). Singapore is the only nation in Asia with a AAA sovereign credit rating from all major rating agencies, making it a tax haven. It is a significant financial, marine shipping, and aviation center, and it is routinely recognized as one of the most expensive cities for expatriates and foreign employees to reside in. Singapore ranks well in important social variables such as education, healthcare, quality of life, personal safety, infrastructure, and housing, with an 88 percent homeownership rate. Singaporeans have one of the world's highest life expectancy rates, quickest Internet connection speeds, lowest infant mortality rates, and lowest levels of corruption. The nation is one of four in the industrialized world with a death penalty retentionist position, along with Japan, the United States, and Taiwan. Non-governmental organizations are outraged by Singapore's use of the death penalty for drug trafficking.
Singapore is a unitary parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary administration and a common law legal system. While elections are free, the People's Action Party (PAP) wields significant control and dominance over politics and society, with limits on assembly, association, expression, and the press except for the Speakers' Corner; the PAP has ruled continuously since full internal self-government was achieved in 1959, with 83 out of 104 seats in Parliament as of the 2020 election, with the Workers' Party holding the remaining elected seats (WP). Singapore, one of ASEAN's five founding members, also serves as the headquarters of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) Secretariat, as well as hosting other international conferences and events. Singapore also belongs to the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the East Asia Summit, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth of Nations.