1902 Encyclopedia > Strait Settlements

Strait Settlements

STRAITS SETTLEMENTS, the collective name given to the British possessions in the MALAY PENINSULA (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 or 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. Besident 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:—

== TABLE ==

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. [586-1 ] 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 1881). 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 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.

MALACCA.—The territory of Malacca lies between the river Linggi and the Kesang, which separate it respectively from Sungei Ujong to the north-west and the Moar district of Johor to the east. To the north it marches with Negri Sembilan. Forest conservancy is beginning to be carefully attended to, and pepper growing has recently been started with success at Arra Kudah by Achinese settlers. Tapioca and tin are among the exports, the latter, brought from the Selangor mines, being smelted in Malacca. The average birth-rate in 1881-83 was 2046 and the death-rate 2642. The city of Malacca has already been described, vol. xv. p. 312.

PRINCE OF WALES ISLAND (or Penang) and SINGAPORE are treated in separate articles.

PROVINCE WELLESLEY, which lies opposite Penang, was at one time part of the Kedah territory, from wdiich it is now separated by the Kwala Muda river. Southwards it extends (since 1874) a little to the south of the Krian river and marches with Perak. The boundary was rectified by treaty with Siam in 1867. Butterworth is the seat of the Government headquarters. The country consists for the most part of fertile plain, and the remainder, about one-eleventh of the whole, is low wooded hills (highest 1843 feet). Some of the low land is rich dark alluvial soil, and much of it is sandy; in the hills a ferruginous sandy loam of rather poor quality prevails. Sugar-growing has long been a staple industry, and tea plantations began to be formed in 1869-70.

THE DINDINGS belonged originally to the state of Perak. The British territory extends some 26 miles from north to south. Though it has a magnificent natural harbour, "it has not hitherto," says Sir Frederick Weld, "been a progressive district. But I think its time is at hand. It produces tin, timber, and ebony, and turtles frequent the neighbouring islands." Dinding Island lies off the mouth of the river of the same name.

PERAK is an extensive tract of country, comprising the great part of the basin of the Perak river (which runs north and south, almost parallel with the coast of the peninsula, for upwards of 130 miles, excluding the windings, before it turns abruptly west to the Strait) and all the basin of the Bernam river. The boundary towards Patani cuts the Perak river at the rapids of Jeram Panjang. The population of the states is about 110,000, among the more noteworthy tribes being the Sakeis. Perak was brought into closer relation to Britain by the treaty signed at Pankor (Pangkore) in the Dindings, 20th January 1874, which authorized the appointment, of a British resident and assistant resident. The first resident, J. W. Birch, was murdered in November 1875; but British troops from India and China, under General (Sir Francis) Colborne, soon suppressed the insurrectionary movement. One column crossed from Larut to Kwala Kungsa and defeated the rebels at Kotah Lamah, Enggar, and Prek, and another advanced from Banda Baru (where Mr Birch was buried) to Blanja, the residence of the ex-sultan Ismail, and thence to Kinta on the Kinta river, the capital of Perak. As it was discovered that Abdullah, the ruling sultau, had been accessory to the murder of Mr Birch, he was deposed in 1877 and banished to Mahe (Seychelles). The residency of Lower Perak was removed from Banda Baru to Durian Sabatang, the place where the Bidor and Batang Padang join the main stream of the Kungsa or Perak, and it has again been removed to Teluk Anson (Teluk Mah Intan), lower down, the centre of the inland trade. The residency of Upper Perak is at Kwala Kungsa. Perak has made wonderful advance since the war. Its revenue was 312,875 dollars in 1877, and in 1884, at a moderate estimate, 1,435,697. In 1877 there was only one line of good road in the country,—from Larut through the pass of Bukit Berapit to Kwala Kungsa; now large tracts have been opened up with roads and bridle-paths. "Rivers have been cleared of obstructions, telegraph lines laid down, court-houses, hospitals, police-stations, &c, built, and a line of railway (8 miles) con-structed from Port Weld, the port of Larut, at Teluk Kartang, where vessels drawing 13 to 15 feet can enter to Taipeng (Thai-peng)." The revenue is mainly derived from a duty on tin, which is largely mined in Larut, &c. The mines of the Capitan China in 1883 produced to the value of £105,000. Coffee and tea plant-ing seem to promise well.

SELANGOR lies to the south of Perak, and consists mainly of the basins of the Selangor, the Klang, and the Langat, of which the last two meet in a common delta to the south of 3° N. lat. Previous to 1880 the seat of the British resident and staff was at Klang, at the head of 13-feet navigation on the Klang river ; at that date it was transferred to Kwala Lumpur, at the junction of the Gombah with the Klang, the highest point reached by the cargo boats which bring up provisions for the tin-miners and return with tin, guttapercha, and other produce. There are tin mining settlements at Ranching, Ulu Selangor, Ulu Bernam, Ulu Gombah, Ulu Klang, Ulu Langat, Sungie Pateh Recko, Kajang, Ampagnan, &c. The mine at Ampagnan was bought for 170,000 dollars by Singapore merchants. The population of Selangor (50,000,—29,000 of them Chinese) is rapidly increasing by immigration from China, India, and Sumatra. Since the close of the civil war (1867-74) and the acceptance of the British resident the country has rapidly developed. At the mouth of the Selangor lies the town of that name, with ruins of an old Dutch fort and the stone on which the sultans of Selangor receive investiture. At Klang, up the Klang river, lies the principal port of the country, now connected by railway with Kwala Lumpor (22 miles distant), the capital, which has grown into a considerable town, with a hospital, Government house, residency, &c. The sultan resides at Jugra, on a deltaic branch of the Langat. The revenue of Selangor was estimated at 596,877 dollars in 1884; but the war debt was still 259,000 dollars in 1883.

SUNGEI UJONG (500 square miles, including Lukut and Sungei Riah; population 14,000, the greater part being Chinese) also shows steady progress. Its revenue rose from 67,000 dollars in 1874-75 to 121,176 in 1884. European coffee and cocoa plantations and Chinese tapioca, pepper, and gambier plantations are at work.

The interference of the British Government is frequently sought in the territory of the Negri Sembilan (the so-called "Nine States," which are now really seven in number), Sri Menanti, Numbaw, Johole, Jellye, Muar, Jempolt, Segamet.

[Further Reading] See Journal of the Straits Asiatic Society, Singapore; Dowden, The Malay Peninsula, 1882; Vacher, Twelve Years in Malaya; McNair, Perak and the Malays, 1878; W. B. D'Ahneida, "Geography of Perak and Salangore," in J. Roy. Geog. Soc., 1876; Sir Frederick Weld, "Straits Settlements," in Proceedings of Royal Colonial Institute, 1883-84; The Straits Directory, 1886; and the works mentioned in the article MALAY PENINSULA.


586-1 The number of hospital cases, and consequently the death-rate, is affected, however, by the fact that natives from the rest of the peninsula, whose diseases prove beyond native skill, are often brought to the colonial hospitals.

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-23 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries