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Singapore is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to its south. The country is highly urbanised with very little primary rainforest remaining, although more land is being created for development through land reclamation.
Singapore had been a part of various local empires since it was first inhabited in the 2nd century AD. It hosted a trading post of the East India Company in 1819 with permission from the Sultanate of Johor. The British obtained sovereignty over the island in 1824 and and was occupation by the Japanese in World War II. Singapore declared independence, uniting with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963, although it was separated from Malaysia two years later. Since then it has had a massive increase in wealth, and is one of the Four Asian Tigers. Singapore is the world's fourth leading financial centre, and its port of Singapore is one of the five World's busiest port. The economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing, which constituted 26% of Singapore's GDP in 2005.
Some 5 million people live in Singapore, of whom 2.91 million were born locally. Most are of Chinese Singaporean, Malays in Singapore or Indians in Singapore descent. There are four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.