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People of Singapore
Singapore is the most densely populated country in Asia with a population of 4,608,167 (est. 2009). The Housing and Development Board of the country provides public housing to almost 85% of the city –state residents. The city-state also endows with remarkable example of an immigrant society in Southeast Asia. Base on the 2006 Statistics, Singapore has a multiracial population in which 76.8% are Chinese (one of the largest Chinese community out of China), 13.9% are Malays, 7.9% are Indians and the rest are Eurasians and other groups.
The strategic location of Singapore is one of the factors why the country has a multicultural society. In order to ensure peace and harmony among the numerous religious and ethnic groups the government of Singapore gives emphasis on racial harmony in all aspect of the society- education, housing and military.
Before Sir Stamford Raffles established the British trading post in Singapore, the country was populated by less than two hundred Malays. In 1819 after Raffles took possession of Singapore for Britain the island became a thriving free port, immigrant settlers from China, India, Indonesian Islands and Malay Peninsula soon came. Within five years after the establishment of the free port the country’s population had risen to more than ten thousand people. After twenty-five years of the foundation the country population was dominated by Chinese immigrants.
The Malays are the first inhabitants of Singapore and the second largest ethnic group in the country. The Malays are generally of mixed descents. Originally, the local Malays came from aboriginal Orang Laut that dwells along the Singapore River, and the other coastal Malay groups that have intermarried with non-Malays and mostly are non-Malay stocks. The modern Malays of Singapore has been closely identified with their Malay ancestry.
Chinese have formed the majority of Singapore’s population since the colonial period. Majority of the Chinese living in the country are from the southern Fukian province, and from Guangdong Province. Chinese immigrants began to move to Singapore during the 19th and 20th century to escape the conflict and poverty in China. The Chinese can be classified into several ethnic subgroups namely - Cantonese, Hainanese, Hakkas, Hokkiens, Teochew and others. Each group has their own dialects which mostly uncommon to one another. Thus to unify the Chinese society the government came up with the Speak Mandarin Campaign.
Chinese Singaporeans are descendants of Chinese immigrants or born in Singapore and attained a citizenship or a permanent residence status. They showed the widest range of class, educational and occupational status. The Chinese society in Singapore is considered to be one with a high degree of social mobility and in which status increasingly dictated by educational background and command of English and Mandarin languages. Today the Chinese in Singapore recognize themselves as Singaporeans rather than Chinese.