Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the British Empire. It is located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bordering the Straits of Malacca to the west, the Riau Islands (Indonesia) to the south, and the South China Sea to the east. The country's territory is composed of one main island, 63 satellite islands and islets, and one outlying islet, the combined area of which has increased by 25% since the country's independence as a result of extensive land reclamation projects. It has the second greatest population density in the world. With a multicultural population and recognising the need to respect cultural identities, Singapore has four official languages; English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. English is the lingua franca. Multiracialism is enshrined in the constitution and continues to shape national policies in education, housing, and politics.
Singapore developed rapidly to become one of the Four Asian Tigers based on external trade, becoming a highly developed country; it is ranked ninth on the UN Human Development Index and has the second-highest GDP per capita (PPP) in the world. It is a major financial and shipping hub, consistently ranked the most expensive city, and has been identified as a tax haven. Singapore is placed highly in key social indicators: education, healthcare, quality of life, personal safety, and housing, with a home-ownership rate of 91%. Singaporeans enjoy one of the world's longest life expectancies, fastest Internet connection speeds and one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.
One of the five founding members of ASEAN, Singapore is also the headquarters of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat and Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) Secretariat, as well as many international conferences and events. Singapore is also a member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, East Asia Summit, Non-Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Singapore has a highly developed market economy, based historically on extended entrepôt trade. Along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the Four Asian Tigers, and has surpassed its peers in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita.
The Singaporean economy is regarded as free, innovative, dynamic and business-friendly. For several years, Singapore has been one of the few countries with an AAA credit rating from the big three, and the only Asian country to achieve this rating. Singapore attracts a large amount of foreign investment as a result of its location, skilled workforce, low tax rates, advanced infrastructure and zero-tolerance against corruption. It is the world's most competitive economy, according to the World Economic Forum's ranking of 141 countries, with the 2nd highest GDP per capita. There are more than 7,000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe in Singapore. Roughly 44 percent of the Singaporean workforce is made up of non-Singaporeans. Despite market freedom, Singapore's government operations have a significant stake in the economy, contributing 22% of the GDP. The city is a popular location for conferences and events.
The currency of Singapore is the Singapore dollar (SGD or S$), issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). It is interchangeable with the Brunei dollar. MAS manages its monetary policy by allowing the Singapore dollar exchange rate to rise or fall within an undisclosed trading band. This is different from most central banks, which use interest rates to manage policy. Singapore has the world's eleventh largest foreign reserves, and one of the highest net international investment position per capita.
In recent years, the country has been identified as an increasingly popular tax haven for the wealthy due to the low tax rate on personal income and tax exemptions on foreign-based income and capital gains. Australian millionaire retailer Brett Blundy and multi-billionaire Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin are two examples of wealthy individuals who have settled in Singapore. In 2009, Singapore was removed from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) "liste grise" of tax havens, and ranked fourth on the Tax Justice Network's 2015 Financial Secrecy Index of the world's off-shore financial service providers, banking one-eighth of the world's offshore capital, while "providing numerous tax avoidance and evasion opportunities". The Straits Times reported that Indonesia had decided to create tax havens on two islands near Singapore to bring Indonesian capital back into the tax base.
Singapore has the world's highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth. This excludes property, businesses, and luxury goods, which if included would increase the number of millionaires, especially as property in Singapore is among the world's most expensive. Singapore is rated the world's most expensive city by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Singapore's ranking in the Human Development Index is 9th in the world, with an HDI value of 0.935.
Singapore is the world's 3rd largest foreign exchange centre, 6th largest financial centre, 2nd largest casino gambling market, 3rd largest oil-refining and trading centre, largest oil-rig producer and hub for ship repair services, and largest logistics hub. The economy is diversified, with its top contributors being financial services, manufacturing, and oil-refining. Its main exports are refined petroleum, integrated circuits, and computers, which constituted 27% of the country's GDP. Other significant sectors include electronics, chemicals, mechanical engineering, and biomedical sciences. There are more than 60 semiconductor companies in Singapore, which together constitute 11% of the global market share. The semiconductor industry alone contributes around 7% of Singapore's GDP.
Singapore's largest companies are in the telecommunications, banking, transportation, and manufacturing sectors, many of which started as state-run statutory corporations and have since been publicly listed on the Singapore Exchange. Such companies include Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel), Singapore Technologies Engineering, Keppel Corporation, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), and United Overseas Bank (UOB). In 2011, amidst the global financial crisis, OCBC, DBS and UOB were ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek as the world's 1st, 5th, and 6th strongest banks in the world, respectively. It is home to the headquarters of 3 Fortune Global 500 companies, the highest in the region.
The nation's best known global companies include Singapore Airlines, Changi Airport, and the Port of Singapore, all of which are among the most-awarded in their respective fields. Singapore Airlines was ranked as Asia's most-admired company, and the world's 19th most-admired company in 2015 by Fortune’s annual "50 most admired companies in the world" industry surveys. Other awards it has received include the US-based Travel + Leisure’s Best International Airline award, which it has won for 20 consecutive years. Changi Airport connects over 100 airlines to more than 300 cities. The strategic international air hub has more than 480 World's Best Airport awards as of 2015, and is known as the most-awarded airport in the world. Over ten free-trade agreements have been signed with other countries and regions. Singapore is the second-largest foreign investor in India. It is the 14th largest exporter and the 15th largest importer in the world.
Tourism is a major industry and contributor to the Singaporean economy, attracting 18.5 million international tourists in 2018, more than three times Singapore's total population. Singapore is the 5th most visited city in the world, and 2nd in the Asia-Pacific. In 2019 tourism contributed directly to about 4% of Singapore's GDP, down from 2016, when tourism contributed, directly and indirectly, to around 9.9% of Singapore's GDP. Altogether, the sector generated approximately 8.6% of Singapore's employment in 2016. The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is the statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry which is tasked with the promotion of the country's tourism industry. In August 2017 the STB and the Economic Development Board (EDB) unveiled a unified brand, Singapore – Passion Made Possible, to market Singapore internationally for tourism and business purposes. The Orchard Road district, which contains multi-storey shopping centres and hotels, can be considered the centre of shopping and tourism in Singapore. Other popular tourist attractions include the Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Night Safari. The Singapore Zoo has embraced the open zoo concept whereby animals are kept in enclosures, separated from visitors by hidden dry or wet moats, instead of caging the animals, and the River Safari has 300 species of animals, including numerous endangered species. Singapore promotes itself as a medical tourism hub, with about 200,000 foreigners seeking medical care there each year. Singapore medical services aim to serve at least one million foreign patients annually and generate US$3 billion in revenue. In 2015, Lonely Planet and The New York Times listed Singapore as their top and 6th-best world destinations to visit, respectively.
Well-known landmarks include the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, the Jewel, the Orchard Road shopping belt, the resort island of Sentosa, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore's first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Singapore is rated Alpha + by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Alpha level cities are linked to major economic states and regions and into the world economy, Alpha + cities are highly integrated cities, filling advanced service needs
Singapore is the #5 city in the world according to the Global Power City Index (GPCI) which evaluates and ranks the major cities of the world according to their magnetism, or their comprehensive power to attract people, capital, and enterprises from around the world. It does so through measuring six key functions: Economy, Research and Development, Cultural Interaction, Liveability, Environment, and Accessibility.
Singapore is the #6 city in the world according to the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) which evaluates and ranks the competitiveness of the major financial centres of the world according to a wide range of criteria – Human Capital, Business, Finance, Infrastructure and Reputation.
Singapore is ranked #3 by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. Singapore is rated B by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. B cities are international hub cities. Singapore was ranked #5 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. Singapore has a population of over 5,535,000 people.