Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state on the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, 137 kilometers (85 miles) north of the equator, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of the Riau Islands of Indonesia. With 710.2 km2 (274.2 square miles), Singapore is a microstate and the smallest nation in Southeast Asia. It is substantially larger than Monaco and the Vatican City, the only other sovereign city-states that survive.
Before European colonization, the island now known as Singapore was the site of a Malay fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several hundred Orang Laut Indians also lived along the coast, rivers and smaller islands. In 1819, the British Company of the East Indies, directed by Sir Stamford Raffles, established a trading post on the island, which was used as a port along the route. Singapore became one of the most important commercial and military centers of the British Empire, and the center of British power in Southeast Asia.
During the Second World War, the British colony was occupied by the Japanese after the Battle of Singapore, which Winston Churchill called "Britain's greatest defeat”. Singapore reverted to British rule in 1945, immediately after the war.
Eighteen years later, in 1963, the city, having gained independence from Great Britain, merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. However, the merger of Singapore proved unsuccessful and, less than two years later, it separated from the federation and became an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Nations on August 9, 1965. Singapore was admitted to the United Nations on the 21st. September of that year.