Explain the Ethnic Composition of Sri Lanka

By Mandeep Kumar|Updated : December 14th, 2022

The major social groups that make up the Ethnic composition of Sri Lanka are Sinhalese speakers at 74% and Tamil speakers at 18%. Tamil speakers are divided into two categories of Sri Lankan Tamils ​​and Indian Tamils. The original inhabitants of Sri Lanka are called Sri Lankan Tamils ​​(13%). This data describes the ethnic composition of Sri Lanka. The Indian Tamils ​​are those whose ancestors migrated from India to Sri Lanka during the colonial period.

Ethnic Composition of Sri Lanka

Most of the Sinhalese speakers follow Buddhism, while the majority of Tamils ​​are Hindus or Muslims. About 7% of Christians are both Tamil and Sinhalese. The term ethnic refers to a social division based on a shared culture.

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

Thus, Tamils felt neglected and thought that no political party led by Sinhalese leaders was sensitive to their language and culture. They founded political parties and fought for the recognition of Tamil as an official language. Soon a civil war broke out between the two, which ended in 2009.

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FAQs on Ethnic Composition of Sri Lanka

  • The ethnic composition of Sri Lanka consists of Sinhala speakers at 74% and Tamil speakers at 18% (out of this, 13% are Sri Lankan Tamils). Further, the Tamil community can be split into two sub-groups - Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils. The ethnic composition showcases the social divisions that are based on a shared culture.

  • Sinhala community is in the majority in Sri Lanka, with a population of around 74%. Furthermore, Sinhala was recognised as the official language of Sri Lanka in 1956. This led to a major conflict between the Sinhala and Tamil communities of the country, and a civil war broke out.

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