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Singaporeans or Singaporean people are citizens of the city-state of Singapore – a multi-racial and multi-cultural country with ethnic Chinese, Indians, and indigenous Malays historically making up the majority of the population. The vast majority of Singaporeans descend from the people of China, India, and the Malay Archipelago.
In 1819, the port of Singapore was established by Sir Stamford Raffles, who opened the port to free trade and free immigration on the south coast of the island. Many immigrants from the region settled in Singapore. By 1827, the population of the island was composed of people from various ethnic groups.
According to the 2006 AsiaBarometer survey, a majority of Singaporeans identify themselves as "Singaporean", while a small percentage prefer to identify with their racial group. Currently, the population of Singaporeans stands at 3,343,000 and the population of overseas Singaporeans stands at 212,000.
The earliest records of settlement on the island dates back to the 2nd century, where the island was identified as a trading port which was part of a chain of similar trading centres that linked Southeast Asia with India and the Mediterranean. The earliest settlers of the island were known as the Orang Lauts, and the island was an outpost of the Srivijaya Empire until it was invaded by the Tamil Emperor Rajendra Chola I of the Chola Empire in the 11th century. A small Malay kingdom, known as the Kingdom of Singapura, was founded in 1299 by a fleeing Srivijayan prince, Sang Nila Utama, who was crowned as the Raja of the new state. After the fall of the kingdom in 1398, the island fell under the suzerainty of various regional empires and Malayan sultanates until its destruction by Portuguese raiders in 1613.
Prior to the arrival of Raffles, there were hundreds of indigenous Malays living on the island under the Johor Sultanate. Most of the indigenous Malays came from the Malay Archipelago. There were an estimated 1,000 people living on the island, who were predominantly Orang Laut with small population of 20–30 Malays who were the followers of Temenggong Abdul Rahman, and about 20–30 Chinese.
The majority of Singaporeans today are descendants of immigrants that settled on the island when Singapore was founded as a British trading port by Raffles in 1819. At that time, Raffles decided Singapore would be a free port and as news of the free port spread across the archipelago, Bugis, Javanese, Peranakan Chinese, Indian and Hadhrami Arab traders flocked to the island, due to the Dutch trading restrictions. After six months of Singapore's founding as a free port, the population increased to 5,000, and by 1825, it had passed the ten thousand mark.
After Singapore was granted self governance from the British, Singaporean citizenship was granted and according to the Singapore Citizenship Ordinance 1957, citizenship was granted to all residents who were born in Singapore or the Federation of Malaya, British citizens who had been resident for two years, and others who had been resident for ten years.
Today, Singaporean citizenship is granted by birth, by descent, or by registration. Although provided for in the Constitution, citizenship by naturalisation is no longer granted. The government instead uses the constitutional provision for citizenship by registration to grant citizenship to resident aliens.
Racial and ethnic groups
Singaporeans of Chinese descent make up 74.1%, Malays make up 13.4%, Indians make up 9.2%, and residents of other ethnicity make up 3.3% of the 3,870,739 of the resident population (including persons holding Permanent Residency). To avoid physical racial segregation and formation of ethnic enclaves common in other multi-racial societies, the Singapore government implemented the "Ethnic Integration Policy" (EIP) in 1989 where each block of units are sold to families from ethnicities roughly comparable to the national average. The country also celebrates Racial Harmony Day to commemorate the 1964 race riots in Singapore and to remember the consequences of racial disharmony the country experienced during the 1964 racial riots.
Other minority groups in Singapore include, Arab, Armenians, Chitty, Eurasians, Peranakans and Sri Lankans. There are also many foreign/expatriate communities in the country including the Australians, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Nepalis and Pakistanis.
Singaporean culture is a mix of Asian and European cultures, with influences from the Malay, Indian, Chinese, and Eurasian cultures. This is reflected in the architectural styles of buildings in several distinct ethnic neighbourhoods, such as Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam and Singlish, which is a local creole language which consists of words originating from English, Malay, Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese and Tamil, used by Singaporeans in a less formal setting.
Major festivals including Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali, Vesak Day, Christmas, Good Friday and New Year's Day which are celebrated by the different major racial and religious groups are designated as public holidays.
Singapore is the world's most religiously diverse nation, with Singaporeans following various religious beliefs and practices due to the country's diverse ethnic and cultural mix. Dharmic religions have the highest number of adherents in Singapore, with 33% of the population practising Buddhism and 5.1% of the population practising Hinduism. Many Singaporeans are also adherents of Abrahamic religions, with 18.3% of the population identifying as Christian, and 14.7% identifying as Muslim. Other prominent faiths practised by Singaporeans include Taoism (10.9%), Chinese folk religion, and other Dharmic religions like Sikhism and Jainism. A small percentage of Singapore's population practices Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Only 0.9% of Singaporeans identify as atheist.
Singapore has four official languages, English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. Malay is the ceremonial national language of the country and is the home language to 13% of the population. Although the majority of the population does not speak Malay, Malay is used in the national anthem of Singapore and also in citations for Singapore orders and decorations and military foot drill commands. Singapore English is the main language spoken by Singaporeans. It is officially the main language of instruction in all school subjects except for Mother Tongue lessons and is also the common language of the administration, and is promoted as an important language for international business. English is the de facto lingua franca of the country.