Explain the Ethnic Composition of Sri Lanka

By Mandeep Kumar|Updated : September 5th, 2022

The term ethnic refers to a social division based on shared culture. The ethnic composition of Sri Lanka is explained in the below points:

  • The major social groups in Sri Lanka are Sinhala speakers 74% and Tamil speakers 18%.
  • The Tamil speakers are divided into two categories Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils. The natives of Sri Lanka are called Sri Lankan Tamils (13%).
  • Indian Tamils are those whose forefathers migrated to Sri Lanka during the colonial period.
  • Most of the Sinhala speakers follow Buddhism whereas most of the Tamils are Hindus or Muslims.
  • About 7% of Christians are both Tamil and Sinhala.

Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka

Sinhala was in majority in Sri Lanka. After Sri Lanka got independence, an act was passed in 1956 to recognise Sinhala as the official language. The policies of the government were in favour of the Sinhala people.

Thus, Tamilians felt disregarded and thought no political parties led by the Sinhala leaders were sensitive to their language and culture. They established political parties and struggled for the recognition of Tamil as the official language. Soon a civil war broke out between the two which ended in 2009.

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  • The ethnic composition of Sri Lanka is Sinhala speakers 74%, and Tamil speakers 18% (out of this 13% are Sri Lankan Tamils).

  • Sinhala community is in majority in Sri Lanka.

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