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 onexternal trade and its human capital.