One of the few city-states in the world, Singapore is a nation of 63 islands, covering 705 sq km (272 sq miles), which lies at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula.
In 1819, when still a sparsely populated fishing village, it was colonized by the British East India Company in order to exploit its geographical position as a tactical outpost along the Spice Route.
Today, Singapore is the fourth-largest foreign-exchange trading center and the 18th-wealthiest country in the world.
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