Singapore is an island city-state with a diverse cultural and linguistic heritage and a thriving modern economy. It is a centre of global commerce and trade, with one of the world's most business-friendly economies. With limited natural resources, the success of Singapore is based on its population's entrepreneurial capabilities and drive to succeed.
In 2005, Singapore was host to over 70,000 international students. The Singaporean Government is committed to see international education grow, and by 2015 plans to attract 150,000 students. The combination of Asian schooling and Western-style practices has made Singapore an educational hub in Asia.
Located at the tip of the Malay peninsula, Singapore has always had a strong connection to the sea. Its colourful history saw it pass from a key port of the Sri Vijayan empire (which included modern-day Malaysian and parts of Indonesia) to the establishment of a British trading station in the 1820s. After its period as a Crown colony, Singapore became an independent republic in 1965.
With a population of almost four million people, Singaporeans reflect an ethnically diverse yet unified nation. About 77 per cent of the population is Chinese, 14 per cent are Malay and eight per cent are Indian. Although its original inhabitants were Malay fisherman, the 19th century saw the arrival of immigrants from the region, including southern China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Middle East.
There are four official languages in Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. Due to the diversity of the country's inhabitants, English is the primary working language of the country, and is used in government, business and law