Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, is a global financial centre with a tropical climate and multicultural population. In circa-1810 Chinatown stands the red-and-gold Buddha’s Tooth Relic Temple, Little India offers colorful souvenirs and Arab Street is lined with fabric shops. Singapore is also known for eclectic street fare, served in hawker centres such as Tiong Bahru and Maxwell Road. The islands were settled from the second century AD by a series of local empires. In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles founded modern Singapore as a trading post of the East India Company; after the company collapsed, the islands were ceded to Britain and became part of its Straits Settlements in 1816. Since the 1990s, the government has been promoting Singapore as a centre for arts and culture, in particular the performing arts, and to transform the country into a cosmopolitan "gateway between the East and West".