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As a sovereign island city-state in the maritime Southeast Asian region, Singapore is known officially as the Republic of Singapore. In the South China Sea, it is located approximately one degree latitude north of the equator (137 kilometres or 85 miles) off the southern tip of Malaysia's peninsula, border line the Straits of Malacca to the west, the Riau Islands (Indonesia) to the south, and the South China Ocean to the east. It is part of the Malay Peninsula. As a consequence of significant land reclamation operations, the total area of the nation's territory has grown by 25 percent since the country gained independence. The country's territory consists of one main island, 63 satellite islands and islets, and one offshore island. Heavily populated, it ranks second on the world's population density scale. Singapore has four official languages, English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil, in recognition of its heterogeneous population and the need to protect cultural identities. Language lingua franca is English, which is widely spoken worldwide. Although multiracialism is explicitly stated in the constitution, it continues to influence national policy in areas like education, housing, and politics.

The modern city-state of Singapore was established in 1819 as a trading station for the British Empire by Sir Stamford Raffles. As part of the Straits Settlements, Singapore was placed under the direct authority of the United Kingdom in 1867, after a reorganisation of the colonies in Southeast Asia. While fighting in World War II, Singapore was seized by Japan in 1942 and then restored to British authority as a distinct crown colony after Japan's defeat in 1945. Singapore achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1959 and joined the newly formed Federation of Malaysia in 1963, together with Malaya, North Borneo, and Sarawak. Singapore was ejected from the federation two years later due to ideological disagreements, and the nation became an independent state two years after that.