Singapore (Malay: Singapura; Chinese: 新加坡; Pinyin: Xīnjiāpō; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர், Ciŋkappūr), officially the Republic of Singapore (Malay: Republik Singapura; Chinese: 新加坡共和国; Pinyin: Xīnjiāpō Gònghéguó; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு, Ciŋkappūr Kudiyarasu), is an island nation located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It lies 137 kilometers (85 miles) north of the Equator, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of Indonesia's Riau Islands. At 704.0 km² (272 square miles), it is one of the few remaining city-states in the world and the smallest country in Southeast Asia.
When the main island was colonized by the British East India Company in 1819 it contained a fishing village sparsely populated by indigenous Malays and Orang Lauts at the mouth of the Singapore River. The British used the position as a strategic trading outpost along the spice route. Occupied by the Japanese Empire during World War II, it reverted to British rule in 1945 and was later part of the merger which established Malaysia in 1963. Two years later it left the federation and became an independent republic on August 9 1965. The new republic was admitted to the United Nations on September 21 that same year.
Since independence, Singapore's standard of living has risen dramatically. Foreign investment and government-led island-wide industrialization have created a modern economy based on electronics and manufacturing, featuring entrepôt and financial trade centering around the country's strategic location. In terms of GDP per capita, Singapore is the 18th wealthiest country in the world. The geographically small nation has a foreign reserve of S$212 billion (US$139 billion).
The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore established the city-state's political system as a representative democracy, while the country is recognized as a parliamentary republic. The People's Action Party dominates the political process and has won control of Parliament in every election since self-government in 1959.