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Singapore  officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state located
at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, lying 137 kilometres (85 mi) north
of the equator, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of Indonesia's
Riau Islands. At 710.2 km2 (274.2 sq mi),[7] Singapore, a microstate and the
smallest nation in Southeast Asia, is by orders of magnitude larger than
Monaco and Vatican City. These, as well as San Marino, are the only other
surviving sovereign city-states.

Before European settlement, the island now known as Singapore was the site
of a Malay fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several
hundred indigenous Orang Laut people also lived along the nearby coast,
rivers and on smaller islands. In 1819, the British East India Company, led by
Sir Stamford Raffles, established a trading post on the island, which was used
as a port along the spice route.[8] Singapore became one of the most
important commercial and military centers of the British Empire, and the hub
of British power in Southeast Asia.

Since independence, Singapore's standard of living has risen dramatically.
Foreign direct investment and a state-led drive to industrialization based on
plans drawn up by the Dutch economist Albert Winsemius have created a
modern economy focused on industry, education and urban planning.[10]
Singapore is the 5th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP (PPP)
per capita.[11] In December 2008, the foreign exchange reserves of this
small island nation stood at around US$174.2billion.[12] The Singapore
government had for the first time in history tapped into her official reserves
and withdrew some S$4.9 billion with the approval of the President. The funds
were then used as part of the S$20.5 billion resilience package unveiled by
Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on 5 February 2009. As of
January 2009, Singapore's official reserves stand at US$170.3 billion.

In 2009, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Singapore the tenth most
expensive city in the world in which to live—the third in Asia, after Tokyo and
Osaka.[13] The 2009 Cost of Living survey, by consultancy firm Mercer, has
ranked Singapore similarly as the tenth most expensive city for expatriates to
live in.[14]

The population of Singapore is approximately 4.86 million.[5] Singapore is
highly cosmopolitan and diverse with Chinese people forming an ethnic
majority with large populations of Malay, Indian and other people. English,
Malay, Tamil, and Chinese are the official languages.[15]
Singapore is a parliamentary republic, and the Constitution of Singapore
establishes representative democracy as the nation's political system.[16]
The People's Action Party (PAP) dominates the political process and has won
control of Parliament in every election since self-government in 1959.[17]
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