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Culture of Sri Lanka


The roots of Sri Lanka can be traced back to the 6th century BCE. The distinctive civilization of Sri Lanka can be characterized by 2 factors: the preservation of “ Theravada Buddhism, and the development of the very sophisticated system of irrigation in the dry regions of the country. The country was further enriched with influences of Hinduism and Islam.

In 2008 Sri Lanka was the third most religious country in the world according to a “ Gallup poll”. The country has three major ethnic groups – the Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims. The Sinhalese constitute the majority in the southern, western, central and north central parts of the country.

The Tamils are comprised of two groups: the Sri Lankan Tamils ( long settled descendants from south-east India) and the Indian Tamils (recent immigrants from southeastern India). While the foremost concentration of Sri Lankan Tamils lives in the Jaffna Peninsula and towards the northern lowland districts; the Indian Tamils, the vast majority of whom are plantation workers, live in the large numbers in the higher areas of the central highlands. The main Muslim population lives in areas such as Colombo, Kandy, Puttalam, and Gampaha.

The Muslims form a small but important segment of the urban and suburban population. Among the other ethnic and religious distinctions we have the Burghers ( a community with mixed European descent), the Parsis (Immigrants from western India) and the Veddas ( they are regarded as the aboriginal inhabitants of the country) all of them combined for a total less than 1 percent of the population.