Yesterday I attended a 41st birthday for Singapore organised by the Singapore UK Association. Of course they were celebrating their independence not from Britain, but from Malaysia. Their High Commissioner made a comment that when Singapore went on its own way, they were told "you won't last ten years." Which makes their 41st birthday quite an achievement.
One of the reasons for Singapore going its own way was that the State of Singapore had serious problems integrating into Malaysian Federation. And they did it on their own, with no natural resources except their people (and according to Wikipedia in 1965 they didn't have a great education) and they did a pretty good job of finding their niche and building a decent economy - I do enjoy my visits to Singapore - a city with great food, great transport and great aircon.