Only independent since 1965, Singapore has quickly grown to become one of the most prosperous and desirable countries in the world. It was founded as a British trading colony in 1819 and was briefly part of the Malaysian Federation. Today, this country that is 3.5 times the size of Washington, D.C. has one of the world's busiest ports.
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Singapore has a highly developed, free-market economy. It's incredibly stable and it's GDP in 2014 was about $445.2 billion. That lands it at 40th in the world, just behind Belgium and ahead of Switzerland. This country is also well-known for it's diverse, modern culture. Expats from around the world flock to Singapore, which has a reputation for high-quality education, gleaming cities, and a happily blended population.
For Westerners looking to introduce themselves to Asian culture and history, Singapore is often recommended as a first stop because it is a mix of many cultures, making it feel both familiar and new to just about anyone but a local. Just be sure to empty your purse of gum before you go, import of the chewy stuff has been banned since 2004.
Read more about Singapore:
The World Factbook: Singapore