About 74 percent of the population of Sri Lanka is of Sinhalese
descent. The largest minority groups are the Sri Lankan Tamils and
the Indian Tamils, which together account for about 18 percent of
The remaining population includes the descendants of Moors (Arabs),
Burghers (Dutch), Malays, and Veddas.
The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala, or Sinhalese, and
Tamil. Sinhala is spoken by 74 percent of the population. Tamil,
a Dravidian language of southern India, is spoken by people living
in the northern and eastern provinces.
English, is still widely spoken.
Buddhism, is the prevailing religious faith, which was introduced
into Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC. As practiced in Sri Lanka,
Buddhism exhibits elements of both the Hindu and Islamic traditions.
About 69 percent of the population is Buddhist, 15 percent is Hindu,
8 percent is Christian, and 8 percent is Muslim.