Bibliographic data

Song, Tan Kim; Seng, Tan Tor: Secondary school geography, Express Course. Vol. 3. Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore Singapore: Pan Pacific Book Distributors, repr. [Nachdr.] ed., 1988 [1985], 272, 274–275.


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It was earlier mentioned that besides the birth rate and the death rate, the third factor that influenced the change in population was migration. Migration refers to the movement of people into the country as well as out of the country. It also refers to the movements of people from one region to another within the same country.

The effects of migration can also be seen in the population pyramid of the country. Look at Fig. 13.21 which shows the population pyramids of Indians in Singapore. What do you notice about the male and female populations in 1957? Why are there more males, especially in the 15 to 59 age groups (that is, those people who are considered to be economically active)?

In Singapore's case, the predominance of males in the Indian population is the result of migration of the Indians (including Sri Lankans and Pakistanis). They came to Singapore in the early twentieth century. They were mainly interested in working in the European plantations which grew cloves, nutmeg and gambier. (The early Chinese immigrants who came to Singapore were likewise predominantly males and the population pyramid was similar in shape to that of the Singapore Indian.) Many of them also went to Peninsular Malaysia to work, especially in the rubber estates. Today, these Indians (both male and female) are involved in many other activities including trade, transport and communication services.

What do you notice about the sex ratio in 1982? Now that the flow

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of Indian immigrants to Singapore has stopped, is the sex ratio more balanced? You may have noticed that the population pyramid still shows an imbalance, especially for those in the older age groups. This accounts for the ratio of 100 females to every 113 males.

From the example of Singapore, we can see that not only does migration contribute to an increase in the number of people in the country, it may also affect the sex ratio or composition of the population.

The present century has seen periods of high population growth, wars and political and cultural conflicts. These circumstances have forced many people to move away from their homeland to other places. In Asia, for example, thousands of Vietnamese left Vietnam after the communists took over the country. Millions of Muslims left India in the 1940s when British South Asia was partitioned into Pakistan and India. At the same time, millions of Hindus left Pakistan for India. It is estimated that more than 20 million Chinese and 10 million Indians have migrated to other countries since the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Let us look at the characteristics of this movement of people. In Unit 5 of Book 2, you learnt about the movement and flow of people. It would be useful if you can recall some of the ideas which you studied.

Some migrations are cyclic or periodic in nature. For example, some people move to other places because there are jobs available at that time and their skills are needed there. Others who live in colder places move to warmer places for holidays (they are called tourists) or to escape the cold

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winters. They return home after a short period. Their migration is temporary.

Sometimes, the migration is permanent in that the migrants stay in the new places for an indefinite period of time. Many of our forefathers in Singapore came from India, China, Sri Lanka and the neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia. They came here to work and to settle permanently.

Many of the migrants also move from the rural areas to the urban areas within the country. They see the towns and cities as places where there are jobs and where the standard of living is higher. Such a rural-urban movement is called internal migration. Others like the Vietnamese who migrated to Europe, North America and Australia moved out of their countries. Such a movement is called international migration. In recent years, international migration, especially for those who intend to settle permanently, is be

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becoming more difficult. Some countries impose strict restrictions to prevent these people from entering the country. Why do you think the host or receiving countries want to impose such restrictions?

So people move from their home country for many reasons. We call such reasons the "push" and "pull" factors. Push factors include certain conditions that make people want to move out of their homelands. They include famines, poverty and wars. On the other hand, the pull factors are those that attract them to other lands. These include a better standard of living, available jobs and stability.

However, the movement of these people sometimes has adverse consequences. For example, people are attracted to the cities by the thousands. The cities become congested and these migrants have to resort to living in city slums and in poverty. Sometimes, cultural and ethnic differences result in

[Map of the world showing the different continents with red arrows illustrating migration movements.]

Fig. 13.22 Movements of people in the world since 1700.

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conflicts which may lead to political unrest. Many migrants try to assimilate themselves into the customs of the local or host country. Some are successful in this assimilation while others are not. In Singapore and Malaysia, for example, some early Chinese migrants were able to assimilate into the indigenous culture. They were called the Babas (or Peranakans). Try to find out more about the Babas and their customs. Figure 13.22 shows the general migration pattern in the world since 1700.


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