Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, and often referred to as the Lion City, the Garden City, and the Red Dot, is a global city in Southeast Asia and the world's only island city-state. It lies one degree (137 km) north of the equator, at the southernmost tip of continental Asia and peninsular Malaysia, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south. Singapore's territory consists of the diamond-shaped main island and 62 islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23% (130 km2), and its greening policy has covered the densely populated island with tropical flora, parks and gardens.
The islands were settled from the second century AD by a series of local empires. In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles founded modern Singapore as a trading post of the East India Company; after the company collapsed, the islands were ceded to Britain and became part of its Straits Settlements in 1826. During World War II, Singapore was occupied by Japan. It gained independence from Britain in 1963, by uniting with other former British territories to form Malaysia, but was expelled two years later over ideological differences. After early years of turbulence, and despite lacking natural resources and a hinterland, the nation developed rapidly as an Asian Tiger economy, based on external trade and its human capital.
Singapore is a global commerce, finance and transport hub. Its standings include: "easiest place to do business" (World Bank) for ten consecutive years, most "technology-ready" nation (WEF), top "International meetings city" (UIA), city with "best investment potential" (BERI), 2nd-most competitive country (WEF), 3rd-largest foreign exchange centre, 4th-largest financial centre, 3rd-largest oil refining and trading centre and one of the top two busiest container ports since the 1990s. Singapore's best known global brands include Singapore Airlines and Changi Airport, both amongst the most-awarded in their industry; SIA is also rated by Fortune surveys as Asia's "most admired company". For the past decade, it has been the only Asian country with the top AAA sovereign rating from all major credit rating agencies, including S&P, Moody's and Fitch.