Explain the Ethnic Composition of Sri Lanka

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

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 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 favor of the Sinhalese people.

  • 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 to recognize Tamil as an official language.
  • Soon a civil war broke out between the two, which ended in 2009.

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