STRAITS SETTLEMENTS, the collective name given to the British possessions in the MALAY PENL.N.SULA (see vol. xv. p. 320, and Plate VI.), derived from the straits which separate the peninsula from Sumatra and which form so important a sea-gate between India and China. The Straits Settlements are defined, by letters patent 17th June 1885, as consisting of the island of Singapore (which contains the seat of government), the town and province of Malacca, the territory and islands of the Dindings (off Perak), the island of Penang, and Province Wellesley, with their dependencies actual or prospective. The Cocos OT KEELING ISLANDS (q.v.), formerly attached to Ceylon, were transferred to the Straits Settlements in 1886. These possessions have formed a crown colony since 1867, previous to which they were administered as a presidency of the Indian empire. The governor, appointed for six years, is assisted by an executive and a legislative council. Resident councillors are stationed at Penang and Malacca, and since 1874 British residents have exercised supervision at the native courts of Perak, Selangor, and Sungei Ujong, and are assisted by a staff of European officials.
The following are the area and population (with details of race divisions) of the settlements : - The population, which thus was 306,775 in 1871 and 423,384 in 1881, was estimated at 473,000 in 1884. The increase is solely produced by immigration of Chinese and natives of India; for, while the total number of births registered in Singapore, Penang, Province Wellesley, and Malacca was in the three years 1881-83 only 21,134, the deaths were 37,151.1 In 1883 61,206 Chinese landed at Singapore and 48,419 in Penang; and, though the influx of Indian coolies has been retarded by the stringent protective laws of the Indian Government, the stream of immigration has been steadily increasing in volume. The number of Chinese is probably below the truth, as, they were very reluctant to fill up the returns. In 1867, the date of the transfer to the crown, the colony had, it was estimated, not more than 283,384 inhabitants.
The revenue, which was in 1868 only about 1,301,843 dollars, had risen by 1886 to 3,710,639, a large proportion being derived from opium and spirit taxation (712,600 dollars in 1868 and 2,152,700 in 1884). The expenditure in the same period increased from 1,197,177 to 3,652,771 dollars. In 1868 12,400 dollars were devoted to education (95,600 in 1884). Public works were credited with 146,800 dollars in 1868 but with 1,170,000 in 1884. The ports of the Straits Settlements are all free. In 1867 the total burden I was 1,237,700 tons, in 1873 2,507,000 tons, and in 1883 4,290,600. The value of the united imports and exports was in 1867 about £14,040,000, and in 1883 it was estimated by Sir Frederick Weld at £38,624,200. The imports usually somewhat exceed the exports.