This chapter traces the emergence of family therapy in Singapore. After an introductory section, where a brief history of Singapore and some current demographic information are presented, the professional context in which the development of family therapy in Singapore has taken place is discussed.
Singapore, an island republic, is located at the tip of Peninsular Malaysia in Southeast Asia, just north of the equator. Consisting of the main island of Singapore and some 63 offshore islands, Singapore is home to about 3 million people (Singapore Government, 1997).
Historically, Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 as a trading station of the British East India Company. With the opening up of the Suez Canal in 1869, Singapore was able to capitalize on its strategic position to become a major port of call for ships plying between East Asia and Europe. It also became the main sorting and export center in the world for rubber as a result of the development of the rubber planting industry (Singapore Government, 1999b).
By the end of the nineteenth century, Singapore was experiencing “unprecedented prosperity” (Singapore Government, 1999b, p. 19). This prosperity attracted numerous immigrants in search of economic opportunities. Immigrants came from China, India, and nearby Indonesia and Malaysia. It continued as a colony of the British Empire until internal self-government was achieved in 1959. Singapore finally became a fully independent and sovereign nation on August 9, 1965.