"'I know the Far East,' said Colonel Julyan. 'I was in China for five years. Then Singapore.'"
The British Empire in 1921
Public DomainThe British Empire in 1921 - Credit: Vadac

As discussed in bookmark p.25, in English and other European languages, it was customary to distinguish between the Near East, the Middle East and the Far East. The Far East included such diverse areas as China, Japan, Korea, the Indian sub-continent and the whole of Southeast Asia (as confirmed by the two areas which Colonel Julyan names).

Singapore is a southeast Asian city-state which consists of 63 separate islands. It is situated off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. When Rebecca was written in 1938, Singapore was a British colony, part of the British Empire which by 1922 included 458 million people, one fifth of the world's population. As a result, many British individuals would, like Colonel Julyan, have had the opportunity to work in a large variety of countries under British rule. China was not part of the empire, but Britain played a large part in controlling its economy, a situation which has been described by some historians as 'informal empire'.

Click here to see a list of countries in the British Empire.

 

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