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Asia, Singapore

Republic of Singapore, independent city-state in Southeast Asia, comprising 1 main island and 50 adjacent islands off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. The major island is separated from Malaysia on the north by the narrow Johor Strait and is connected by a causeway to the Malaysian city of Johor Baharu. On the south, the main island is separated from Indonesia's Riau Archipelago by the Singapore Strait, an important shipping channel linking the Indian Ocean to the west with the South China Sea on the east.

Singapore is densely populated, with most of the country's people concentrated in the south central portion of the island, where the central business district and main port are located. About three-fourths of the people are Chinese, but there are significant Malay and Indian minorities.

Singapore contained just a few fishing settlements and a small trading port when the islands became part of the United Kingdom's colonial empire in the 1820s. Britain developed Singapore into a major international trade center, and the local Malay population soon swelled with immigrants from China and India. Since becoming an independent republic in 1965, multiethnic Singapore has maintained political stability and high economic growth. As a result, Singapore is now Southeast Asia's most important seaport, financial center, and manufacturing hub, and its citizens enjoy one of the world's highest standards of living.

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