Singapore (officially the Republic of Singapore), is a modern city-state and island country in Southeast Asia. It lies off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and is 137 kilometres north of the equator. The country's territory consists of the diamond-shaped main island, commonly referred to as Singapore Island in English and Pulau Ujong in Malay, and more than 60 significantly smaller islets. Singapore is separated from Peninsular Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to the north, and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to the south. The country is highly urbanised, and little of the original vegetation remains. The country's territory has consistently expanded through land reclamation.
The islands were settled in the second century AD and subsequently belonged to a series of local empires. Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the East India Company with permission from the Johor Sultanate. The British obtained sovereignty over the island in 1824, and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826. Occupied by the Japanese during World War II, Singapore became independent from the United Kingdom in 1963 and united with other former British territories to form Malaysia, from which it was expelled two years later through a unanimous act of parliament. Singapore has since developed rapidly, earning recognition as one of the Four Asian Tigers.