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Singapore, formally the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state and the smallest country in Southeast Asia. It is located on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, south of the Malaysian state of Johor, and north of the Indonesian Riau Islands. It lies just 137 kilometres (85 miles) north of the Equator.

The site of several ancient port cities and a possession of several empires in its history, Singapore was a Malay fishing village when it was colonised by the United Kingdom in the 19th century. It was further occupied by the Japanese Empire in World War II, and was later part of the merger which established the Federation of Malaysia. When Singapore acquired independence, having few natural resources, it was sociopolitically volatile and economically undeveloped. Foreign investment and rapid government-led industrialisation has since created an economy which relies on exports of electronics and manufacturing primarily from its port.

According to the quality-of-life index assembled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore has the highest standard of living in Asia, and is ranked 11th in the World. [1] In the more well-known Human Development Index by the United Nations, Singapore holds the 25th place, behind only Japan and Hong Kong in Asia. Measured by GDP per capita, Singapore is the 22nd wealthiest country. The comparatively high ranking in the index by the Economist Intelligence Unit reflects the strong emphasis placed by this index on stable family life and low crime levels.

More than 90% of Singapore's population lives in housing estates constructed by the Housing Development Board and nearly half uses the public transport system daily [2]. As a result of efforts to control motorised traffic, the maintenance of natural greenery, strict regulations on industrial locations and emissions, and other pro-environmental initiatives by the government and the private sector, Singapore has been able to control its pollution levels to well within World Health Organization standards [3]. The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore established the city-state as a representative democracy. Singapore initially undertook a democratic socialist policy shortly after its independence, adopting a welfare system. However, the government has since become more conservative than it was at the founding of the republic. Singapore faces criticism for being a reduced democracy because of its dominant-party system and has attracted controversy for some of its policies.

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Additional Photos by Coskun Tezic (Tezic) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1827 W: 7 N: 3377] (17867)
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