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The Republic of Singapore is an island nation in Southeast Asia. Situated at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, it is separated from the Peninsular Malaysia by the Johore Strait, with the Riau Islands of Indonesia to the south.

Besides its main island of Pulau Ujong, with its ragged coastline, more than sixty other islands are part of Singapore. Of the smaller islands, Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin, and Sentosa are the largest. Two bridges connect the main island to Malaysia.

Not much is known of the pre-colonial history of Singapore. In the 3rd century, Chinese sailors made reference to an island at the end of a peninsula, which may have been Singapore. By the late 13th century, the island was known as Temasek and there was a trading outpost there. By the late 14th century, it had taken on the name Singapura, which is a reference to a lion although the origins are unknown.

In 1390, a Sumatran prince by the name of Paramesvara, and his followers, sought refuge on the island, where he ruled until a Javanese offensive forced him onto the Malay Peninsula, where he founded the Malacca Sultanate. Singapore declined, becoming little more than a fishing settlement until the Portuguese took Malacca in 1511. In 1613, the Portuguese burned the only settlement on the island, and it

In the late 1700s, the British East India Company was establishing ports along the Straits of Malacca. In 1818, Thomas Raffles, the British lieutenant-governor of Bencoolen in Sumatra, was charged with setting up a colony in Singapore, which then had a population of only about a thousand, but which had a deep water harbor. In 1824, the whole island became a British possession under the jurisdiction of British India. By 1860, there were more than 80,000 in Singapore, the majority of them Chinese.

World War I had a negligible effect on Singapore, but after the war, the British constructed the Singapore Naval Base on the island. However, during World War II, the British lost the Battle of Singapore, with heavy losses. The Japanese occupied Singapore and held it until the end of the war.

Although the island was again occupied by British and Australian forces after World War II, native Singaporeans were clamoring for independence, particularly given Britain's failure to effectively defend the islands from the Japanese. Britain was divesting itself of its colonies anyhow and was open to a gradual move toward self-governance. Singapore was made a Crown Colony in 1946 after Penang and Malacca formed the Malayan Union.

Singapore held elections in 1955, although Britain was still responsible for its defense and foreign affairs. In 1959, Singapore became a self-governing state within the Commonwealth, but it was still not fully independent.

The British and the People's Action Party, which had been victorious at the polls, believed that Singapore should unite with what was then known as the Federation of Malaya, which would include Malaya, Singapore, and the island of Borneo. In 1963, Singapore joined the Federation of Malaya, the Crown Colony of Sarawak, and the Crown Colony of North Borneo, forming the new Federation of Malaysia. However, shortly after the merger, disagreements with the central government arose, leading to acts of terrorism and other acts of violence, as well as heated exchanges between the Singaporean and Malaysian governments. In 1965, Singapore was expelled from the Federation of Malaysia. Thus, the Republic of Singapore was formed in 1965, currently operating as a parliamentary republic.

Singapore has a market economy, with a reputation as a good place to do business, attracting a large amount of foreign investment, and serving as a tax haven for the wealthy. Singapore has the world's largest percentage of millionaires, with one out of six households having at least a million US dollars in disposable wealth. Singapore also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.

Legally and in practice, Singaporeans enjoy freedom of religion. Between 30% and 50% of the population adheres to Buddhism, although the number is inexact because elements of Taoism and Buddhism are included in their practice of religion. The second most common religion is Christianity, split between a variety of denominations and sects. Singapore's Malay population is largely Muslim, representing up to 15% of the population.

There are four official languages in Singapore: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil, English being the most commonly used. Most Singaporeans are bilingual, speaking English and another language.

Topics related to Singapore, or to businesses, organizations, schools, religious institutions, or individuals in Singapore, are appropriate topics for this category.



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