Peranakan Chinese or Straits-born Chinese are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago including British Malaya (now Malaysia and Singapore, where they are also referred to as Baba-Nyonya) and Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia; where they are also referred as Kiau-Seng) between the 15th and 17th centuries.
Members of this community in Malaysia address themselves as “Baba Nyonya”. Nyonya is the term for the women and Baba for the men. It applies especially to the Han populations of the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and the Dutch-controlled island of Java and other locations, who have adopted Nusantara customs — partially or in full — to be somewhat assimilated into the local communities. Many were the elites of Singapore, more loyal to the British than to China. Most have lived for generations along the straits of Malacca. They were usually traders, the middleman of the British and the Chinese, or the Chinese and Malays, or vice versa because they were mostly English educated. Because of this, they almost always had the ability to speak two or more languages.
While the term Peranakan is most commonly used to refer to those of Chinese descent also known as Straits Chinese (named after the Straits Settlements; 土生華人 in Chinese; Tionghoa-Selat or Tionghoa Peranakan in Indonesian; Phuket Baba, Phuket Yaya or Baba Yaya among Thais in Phuket, Thailand), there are also other, comparatively smaller Peranakan communities, such as Indian Hindu Peranakans (Chitty), Arab/Indian Muslim Peranakans (Jawi Pekan, Jawi being the Javanised Arabic script, Pekan a colloquial contraction of Peranakan) and Eurasian Peranakans (Kristang, Christians of Portuguese and Asian ancestry).The group has parallels to the Cambodian Hokkien, who are descendants of Hoklo Chinese, and the Pashu of Myanmar, a Burmese word for the Peranakan or Straits Chinese who have settled in Myanmar.They maintained their culture partially despite their native language gradually disappearing a few generations after settlement.