People & Culture

The majority of Sri Lankans are Sinhalese, accounting to 74% of the population in the country. Proud of a rich and long history, dating back to over 2000 years, the Sinhalese community mainly inhabits in the central, west and south of the country. The old Sinhalese Kings are known to have built master irrigational systems and lived self-sufficiently. Buddhism is the religion of the Sinhalese people and was introduced to Sri Lanka in 3 rd centuary BC. The rich culture, art and architecture derives essence from Buddhism.

The Tamils are the second largest community and accounts for 14% of the population. Divided between Ceylon Tamils and Indian Tamils, this community mainly inhabits in the North, Northeast and Central provinces. The Indian Tamils have migrated to Sri lanka during the time of the Birtish rulers to work on tea plantations etc and have settled in the Central Province of the country in the tea estates. The Ceylon Tamils have a 1000year long history in Sri Lanka and are mainly living in the Jaffna peninsula. The two communities are largely Hindu devotees and have a similar culture and caste system different from the Sinhalese.

The Muslim community which accounts for 7% of the population practice the Islam religion and have settled in the east coastal belt of Sri Lanka. With a history dating back to about 1000 years, the Muslims first arrived from Arab to Sri Lanka for trade purposes and later settled in the coastal area.

The fourth significant community is the Burgher community and are descendants of Portuguese or Dutch. Spread around the west coastal belt, this community is either Roman Catholic or Christian (Dutch Reformed Church)

Buddhism and its historical monuments in Sri Lanka