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The People of Singapore

Singapore_Old_Man.jpg (21771 bytes) When Sir Stamford Raffles sailed up the Singapore River in 1819, he found a settlement of some 150 people living along the banks.  As the British turned Singapore into a thriving free port, immigrant settlers soon came from China, India, the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian islands.

Among the first to be attracted by the opportunities in Singapore were the inhabitants (mainly Malays and Chinese) of the older settlement of Malacca.  Another major group of early arrivals were Indonesian traders and laborers, among them Javanese, Bugis and Balinese.  Indian connections with modern Singapore began from the first day Naraina Pillay (an Indian trader from Penang), together with 120 Indian soldiers and several assistants, arrivaed as part of Raffles' entourage.

Singapore's people, largely descendents of these immigrants, have forged a sense of common destiny and national identity.

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Population Profile

As of June 2003, the resident population, comprising Singapore citizens and permanent residents, was estimated a 3,437,300 - an increase of 1.7 percent over 2002.  Total population, which included foreigners residing one year or more, was estimated at 4,185,200 - a 0.3 percent increase over that of 2002.

Population density fell from 6,075 people per square kilometer in 2002 to 6004 people per square kilometer in 2003.  The median age of the resident population in 2003 rose marginally to 35 years, from 24,9 years in 2002.  The infant mortality rate was 2.2 per thousand live births in 2003.  Life expectancy at birth for residents had also increased from 76.8 years in 2002 to 76.9 years in 2003 for males and from 80.6 years to 80.9 years for females for the same period.

In 2003, the total number of live-births and still-births registered under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act were 37,485.  The number of deaths registered was 16,036.  The general marriage rate for 2003 per 10,000 unmarried females was 44.3.  The gross reproduction rate was 0.61 per female.

The majority of those living in Singapore are Chinese who migrated, with 45% of them from southern Fukian province.  The next largest group of Chinese are the Teochew, from Guangdong Province (Chao-an county) with 22% of the Chinese population.  

Baba, or Straits Chinese, are a growing number of people whose first language is English or Malay, but maintain the Chinese culture.  This term had originally been used for those born to Chinese immigrants and Singaporeans, but is now used for anyone whose been in Singapore for several generations.

Malays in Singapore descended from immigrants who came from other parts of the Malay Peninsula or the Malay Archipelago.  Initially, the Malays (Muslim) didn't have a stronghold in Singapore's society, but with the government's help in the 1980's, they have improved their social and political prominence.

Tamils from the southeastern part of India comprise approximately 2/3 of the Indians in Singapore.  They first arrived from Penang and Malacca, but eventually came by way of India and Sri Lanka and thus Punjabis, Malayalis and Gujaratis are other Indians located in Singapore.

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