Geographic Origins

Singapore is a small island country in south-eastern Asia. Established as a trading post by Stamford Raffles in 1819, it was later a British colony and was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War. Singapore became a sovereign nation in 1965. It lies near the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and consists of one large island and more than 50 smaller islands. The Strait of Johore separates Singapore from Malaysia, while the Strait of Singapore defines its boundary with Indonesia.

History of Immigration and Settlement

Although Asians from Singapore came to Australia as an occasional source of labour during the nineteenth century and as students from the 1950s, it was not until Australia’s Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 was relaxed from 1967 to 1973 that they began to arrive in Australia in significant numbers.

In 1961 there were 169 Singapore-born South Australians. By 1966 there were 227. Most were probably of European descent.

Singapore’s prosperity is reflected in the fact that few arrivals from that country have received assistance from the Australian government. Singapore-born Australians are generally fluent in English and highly educated. They are often engaged in professional occupations.

Seventy-five per cent of Singapore’s people are of Chinese descent. Malays, Singapore’s largest minority group, form 15 per cent of its population. The rest of Singapore’s people are Indian, European or Eurasian. Cultural divisions are of continuing importance in contemporary Singapore, so there are no collective Singaporean organisations in South Australia. For information on community activities and organisations, consult the Chinese, Malaysian and Indian entries.


The 1986 census recorded that there were 880 Singapore-born South Australians.

According to the 1991 census there were 1,142 Singapore-born South Australians. 930 people said that their mothers were born in Singapore, and 828 that their fathers were.

According to the 1996 census there were 1,172 Singapore-born South Australians, just 4.0 per cent of the national total. The second generation for this birth place group was 591.

The 2001 census recorded 1,382 Singapore-born South Australians.

The 2006 census recorded 1,766 Singapore-born South Australians, while 155 people said that they were of Singaporean descent.

The 2011 census recorded 2,104 Singapore-born South Australians, while 259 people said that they were of Singaporean descent.

The 2016 census recorded 2,488 Singapore-born South Australians, while 312 people said that they were of Singaporean descent.

By Migration Museum

This article is part of the From Many Places project documenting the diverse cultural groups in South Australia. It is a project started by the Migration Museum in 1992 and continued in partnership today. 

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Courtesy of/Photographer:Bit Scribbly Design

Migration Museum

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