Demographics of Sri Lanka

This is a demography of the population of Sri Lanka including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Demographics of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka population pyramid in 2020
Population23,187,516 (2022)
Density332/km2 (2018)
Growth rate0.61% (2022)
Birth rate17.04 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate5.96 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Life expectancy75.94 years (2012 est.)
  male72.43 years (2012 est.)
  female79.59 years (2012 est.)
Fertility rate2.00 children born/woman (2017 est.)[1]
Infant mortality rate9.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Age structure
0–14 years25.24% (2019)[2]
15–64 years66.92% (2019)[2]
65 and over7.84% (2019)[2]
Sex ratio
Total0.93 male(s)/female (2018)[2]
At birth1.02 male(s)/female (2018)[2]
Under 151.02 male(s)/female (2018)[2]
15–64 years0.93 male(s)/female (2018)[2]
65 and over0.76 male(s)/female (2018)[2]
Nationality
Nationalitynoun: Sri Lankan(s)
adjective: Sri Lankan
Major ethnicSinhala (74.9%) (2012 census)
Minor ethnic
Language
OfficialSinhala, Tamil
SpokenEnglish
Historical population of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, also called Ceylon and many other names. It is about the size of Ireland. It is about 28 kilometres (18 mi.) off the south-eastern coast of India with a population of about 22 million. Density is highest in the south west where Colombo, the country's main port and industrial center, is located. The net population growth is about 0.7%. Sri Lanka is ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse.

Overview

Population of Sri Lanka
YearPop.±%
1789[lower-alpha 1] 1,200,000    
1827[lower-alpha 2] 889,584−25.9%
1871 2,400,380+169.8%
1881 2,759,738+15.0%
1891 3,007,789+9.0%
1901 3,565,954+18.6%
1911 4,106,350+15.2%
1921 4,498,605+9.6%
1931 5,306,871+18.0%
1946 6,657,339+25.4%
1953 8,097,895+21.6%
1963 10,582,064+30.7%
1971 12,689,897+19.9%
1981 14,846,750+17.0%
1990 17,325,773+16.7%
2000 18,777,601+8.4%
2010 20,261,737+7.9%
2020 21,413,249+5.7%
Source: [3][4][5][6][7]

According to the 2012 census the population of Sri Lanka was 20,359,439, giving a population density of 325/km2.[7] The population had grown by 5,512,689 (37.1%) since the 1981 census (the last full census), equivalent to an annual growth rate of 1.1%.[7] 3,704,470 (18.2%) lived in urban sectors - areas governed by municipal and urban councils.[8]

5,131,666 (25.2%) of the population were aged 14 or under whilst 2,525,573 (12.4%) were aged 60 or over, leaving a working age (15-59) population of 12,702,700.[9] The dependency ratio was 60.2%.[7] The mean age was 32 years and the median age was 31 years.[7] The sex ratio was 94 males per 100 females.[7] The fertility rate for married females aged 15 or over was 2.65 live births.[10] There were 5,264,282 households, of which 3,986,236 (75.7%) were headed by males and 1,278,046 (24.3%) were headed by females.[7]

Of the 15,227,773 aged 15 or over, 10,322,105 (67.8%) were married, 3,927,602 (25.8%) were never married, 792,947 (5.2%) were widowed and 185,119 (1.2%) were divorced or separated.[11]

Of those aged 15 or over, 7,857,370 (51.6%) were economically active, 4,199,558 (27.6%) did housework, 1,431,105 (9.4%) were students, 914,934 (6.0%) were unable to work and 346,084 (2.3%) were pensioners.[12] 521,938 (6.6%) of the economically active were unemployed.[7] 604,540 Sri Lankans were living aboard for more than six months but were intending to return to Sri Lanka, mostly in the Gulf states (373,050 61.7%).[13]

The overall literacy rate for those aged 10 and over was 95.7% but amongst those living in the estate sector it was only 86.1%.[14] Of the 18,615,577 aged 5 or over, 499,563 (2.7%) had received a higher education qualification, 2,293,841 (12.3%) had passed G.C.E. A/L, 3,159,402 (17.0%) had passed G.C.E. O/L and 700,419 (3.8%) had no formal schooling.[15] The remaining 11,962,352 (64.3%) had left school with no qualifications or were currently at school.[15]

Sri Lanka's population is aging faster than any other nation in South Asia and has the fifth highest rapidly growing population of older people in Asia after China, Thailand, South Korea and Japan.[16][17][18] In 2015, Sri Lanka's population aged over 60 was 13.9%, by 2030 this will increase to 21% and by 2050 this number will reach 27.4%.[17][18] Sri Lanka's rapidly growing older population has ignited concerns of the socio-economic challenges that the country will face because of this.[19]

Ethnicity

Majority ethnicity by DS Division according to 2012 census

The Sinhalese make up 74.9% of the population (according to 2012 census) and are concentrated in the densely populated south-west and central parts of the island.[20]

The Sri Lanka Tamils, who live predominantly in the north and east of the island, form the largest minority group at 11.1% (according to the 2012 census) of the population.[20]

The Moors, descendants of Arab and Indian traders, form the third largest ethnic group at 9.3% of the population.[20] They are mostly concentrated in urban areas in the southern parts of the island with substantial populations in the Central and Eastern provinces. During times of Portuguese colonization, Moors were persecuted, and many forced to retreat to the central highlands and the eastern coast.

There are also Indian Tamils who form a distinct ethnic group comprising 4.1% of the population.[20] The British brought them to Sri Lanka in the 19th century as tea and rubber plantation workers, and they remain concentrated in the "tea country" of south-central Sri Lanka. The Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka were considered to be "stateless" and over 300,000 Indian Tamils were deported back to India, due to the agreement between Sri Lanka and India in 1964.[21] Under the pact, India granted citizenship to the remainder, some 200,000 of whom now live in India. Another 75,000 Indian Tamils, who themselves or whose parents once applied for Indian citizenship, now wish to remain in Sri Lanka. The government has stated these Tamils will not be forced to return to India, although they are not technically citizens of Sri Lanka. By the 1990s most Indian Tamils had received Sri Lankan citizenship, and some even were not granted Sri Lankan citizenship until 2003.[21][22]

Smaller minorities include the Veddas, the indigenous people of Sri Lanka; Malays who descend from Austronesian settlers; the Burghers, who are descendants of European colonists, principally from Portugal, the Netherlands and, the UK; the ethnic Chinese migrants who came to the island in the 18th and 19th centuries; and the Kaffirs, a small population who are descended from Africans.

Population of Sri Lanka by ethnic group 1881 to 2012[20][23][24]
Year Sinhalese Sri Lankan Tamils[lower-alpha 3] Sri Lankan Moors[lower-alpha 4] Indian Tamils[lower-alpha 3] Sri Lankan Malays Burghers/
Eurasian
Indian Moors[lower-alpha 4] Others Total
No.
No.%No.%No.%No.%No.%No.%No.%No.%
1881 Census1,846,60066.91%687,20024.90%184,5006.69%8,9000.32%17,9000.65%14,5000.53%2,759,700
1891 Census2,041,20067.86%723,90024.07%197,2006.56%10,1000.34%21,2000.70%14,2000.47%3,007,800
1901 Census2,330,80065.36%951,70026.69%228,0006.39%11,9000.33%23,5000.66%20,0000.56%3,566,000
1911 Census2,715,50066.13%528,00012.86%233,9005.70%531,00012.93%13,0000.32%26,7000.65%32,7000.80%25,6000.62%4,106,400
1921 Census3,016,20067.05%517,30011.50%251,9005.60%602,70013.40%13,4000.30%29,4000.65%33,0000.73%34,6000.77%4,498,600
1931 Estimate3,473,00065.45%598,90011.29%289,6005.46%818,50015.43%16,0000.30%32,3000.61%36,3000.68%41,8000.79%5,306,000
1946 Census[lower-alpha 5]4,620,50069.41%733,70011.02%373,6005.61%780,60011.73%22,5000.34%41,9000.63%35,6000.53%48,9000.73%6,657,300
1953 Census[lower-alpha 6]5,616,70069.36%884,70010.93%464,0005.73%974,10012.03%25,4000.31%46,0000.57%47,5000.59%39,5000.49%8,097,900
1963 Census7,512,90071.00%1,164,70011.01%626,8005.92%1,123,00010.61%33,4000.32%45,9000.43%55,4000.52%19,9000.19%10,582,000
1971 Census9,131,24171.96%1,423,98111.22%855,7246.74%1,174,6069.26%43,4590.34%45,3760.36%15,5100.12%12,689,897
1981 Census10,979,56173.95%1,886,87212.71%1,046,9267.05%818,6565.51%46,9630.32%39,3740.27%28,3980.19%14,846,750
2001 Census[lower-alpha 7]
2011 Census[lower-alpha 8]15,250,08174.90%2,269,26611.15%1,892,6389.30%839,5044.12%44,1300.22%38,2930.19%25,5270.13%20,359,439

Religion

Majority religion by DS Division according to 2012 census

Religion in Sri Lanka (2012)[25]

  Buddhism (70.2%)
  Hinduism (12.6%)
  Islam (9.7%)
  Roman Catholic (6.1%)
  Other Christian (1.3%)
  Other (0.05%)

According to the 2012 census Buddhists make up 70.2% of the population, Hindus 12.6%, Muslims 9.7% and Christians 7.6%.[26] Most Sinhalese are Buddhist; most Tamils are Hindu; and the Moors and Malays are mostly Muslim. Sizeable minorities of both Sinhalese and Tamils are Christians, most of whom are Roman Catholic. The Burgher population is mostly Roman Catholic or Presbyterian. The Veddas have Animist and Buddhist practices. The 1978 constitution, while assuring freedom of religion, gives "the foremost place" to Buddhism.[27][28]

Population of Sri Lanka by religion 1881 to 2012[26][29][30]
Year Buddhist Hindu Muslim Christian Others Total
No.%No.%No.%No.%No.%No.
1881 Census1,698,10061.53%593,60021.51%197,8007.17%268,0009.71%2,3000.08%2,759,800
1891 Census1,877,00062.40%615,90020.48%212,0007.05%302,10010.04%8000.03%3,007,800
1901 Census2,141,40060.06%826,80023.19%246,1006.90%349,2009.79%2,5000.07%3,566,000
1911 Census2,474,20060.25%938,30022.85%283,6006.91%409,2009.96%1,1000.03%4,106,400
1921 Census2,769,80061.57%982,10021.83%302,5006.72%443,4009.86%8000.02%4,498,600
1931 Estimate3,266,60061.55%1,166,90021.99%354,2006.67%518,1009.76%1,1000.02%5,306,900
1946 Census4,294,90064.51%1,320,40019.83%436,6006.56%603,2009.06%2,2000.03%6,657,300
1953 Census5,209,40064.33%1,610,50019.89%541,5006.69%724,4008.95%12,1000.15%8,097,900
1963 Census7,003,30066.18%1,958,40018.51%724,0006.84%884,9008.36%11,4000.11%10,582,000
1971 Census8,536,86867.27%2,238,66617.64%901,7857.11%1,004,3267.91%8,2520.07%12,689,897
1981 Census10,288,32569.30%2,297,80615.48%1,121,7177.56%1,130,5687.61%8,3340.06%14,846,750
2001 Census[lower-alpha 7]
2012 Census[lower-alpha 8]14,272,05670.10%2,561,29912.58%1,967,5239.66%1,552,1617.62%6,4000.03%20,359,439

Languages

A multi-lingual road sign

Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language, is the first language of Sinhalese people.

Tamil, a Dravidian language, is the first language of native Sri Lankan Tamils. Tamil is also the first language of the majority of Sri Lankan Moors and the Indian Tamils - according to the 2012 census 98% of Sri Lankan Moors could speak Tamil but only 59% could speak Sinhala.[31]

English is fluently spoken by approximately 23.8%[32] of the Sri Lanka's population, and widely used for official and commercial purposes.

Malays speak Sri Lanka Malay, a Creole language mixing Sinhala, Tamil and Malay. Many of the Burghers speak Sri Lankan Indo-Portuguese although its use has declined and the majority now speak Sinhala.[31] The Veddas speak Vedda, a Creole language closely based on Sinhala. Use of English has declined since independence, but it continues to be spoken by many in the middle and upper middle classes, particularly in Colombo. According to the 2012 census 24% of the population could speak English.[31] The government is seeking to reverse the decline in the use of English, mainly for economic but also for political reasons. According to the constitution Sinhala and Tamil are official languages whilst English is the link language.[33]

Vital statistics

UN estimates:[34]

Period Live births per year Deaths per year Natural change per year CBR1 CDR1 NC1 TFR1 IMR1
1950–1955 322,000 171,000 151,000 37.4 19.8 17.5 5.80 103.9
1955–1960 367,000 143,000 223,000 38.6 15.1 23.5 5.80 86.7
1960–1965 377,000 128,000 248,000 35.5 12.1 23.4 5.20 77.5
1965–1970 391,000 116,000 276,000 32.9 9.7 23.2 4.70 69.3
1970–1975 383,000 103,000 280,000 29.1 7.8 21.3 4.00 55.4
1975–1980 401,000 99,000 302,000 27.8 6.9 20.9 3.61 38.8
1980–1985 401,000 96,000 305,000 25.6 6.1 19.5 3.19 30.3
1985–1990 362,000 110,000 253,000 21.6 6.5 15.1 2.64 24.1
1990–1995 349,000 119,000 230,000 19.6 6.7 12.9 2.39 22.1
1995–2000 329,000 146,000 183,000 17.8 7.9 9.9 2.16 18.9
2000–2005 360,000 121,000 239,000 18.7 6.3 12.4 2.27 15.9
2005–2010 386,000 132,000 253,000 19.0 6.5 12.5 2.36 12.4
2010–2015 16.4 6.6 9.8 2.11
2015–2020 14.9 7.1 7.8 2.03
1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births

Fertility and births

Total Fertility Rate (TFR) (Wanted Fertility Rate) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR):[35]

Year CBR (total) TFR (total) CBR (urban) TFR (urban) CBR (rural) TFR (rural) CBR (estate) TFR (estate)
1981–1983 3,1 2,4 3,2 3,4
1987 2,8 (2,4) 2,3 (1,9) 2,9 (2,4) 3,4 (3,2)
2006–2007 18,7 2,3 (2,1) 18,5 2,2 (2,0) 18,6 2,3 (2,1) 20,0 2,5 (2,1)

Births and deaths

Year Population Live births Deaths Natural increase Crude birth rate Crude death rate Rate of natural increase TFR
1948 287 695 93 711 193 984 39.7 13.0 26.7
1949 291 191 91 889 199 302 39.1 12.4 26.7
1950 304 635 95 142 209 493 39.7 12.6 27.1
1951 313 662 100 072 213 590 39.8 12.9 26.9
1952 313 532 95 298 218 234 38.8 12.0 26.8
1953 321 217 89 003 232 214 38.7 10.9 27.8
1954 303 894 86 794 217 100 35.7 10.4 25.3
1955 325 538 94 368 231 170 37.3 11.0 26.3
1956 325 067 87 561 237 506 36.4 9.8 26.6
1957 334 135 92 759 241 376 36.5 10.1 26.4
1958 335 690 90 815 244 875 35.8 9.7 26.1
1959 356 336 87 971 268 365 37.0 9.1 27.9
1960 361 702 84 918 276 784 36.6 8.6 28.0
1961 363 677 81 653 282 024 35.8 8.0 27.8
1962 370 762 88 928 281 834 35.5 8.5 27.0
1963 365 842 91 673 274 169 34.1 8.5 25.6
1964 361 577 95 618 265 959 33.2 8.8 24.4
1965 369 437 91 728 277 709 33.1 8.8 24.3
1966 369 153 94 419 274 734 32.3 8.3 24.0
1967 369 531 87 877 281 654 31.9 7.5 24.4
1968 384 178 94 903 289 275 32.0 7.9 24.1
1969 372 774 102 356 270 418 30.4 8.1 22.3
1970 367 901 94 129 273 772 29.4 7.5 21.9
1971 382 668 96 328 286 340 30.4 7.7 22.7
1972 385 462 100 080 285 382 30.0 8.1 21.9
1973 367 158 100 678 266 480 28.0 7.7 20.3
1974 365 902 119 518 246 384 27.5 9.0 18.5
1975 374 689 115 108 259 581 27.8 8.5 19.3
1976 380 702 106 506 274 196 27.8 7.8 20.0
1977 389 522 103 284 286 238 27.9 7.4 20.5
1978 404 831 93 971 310 860 28.5 6.6 21.9
1979 417 986 94 244 323 742 28.9 6.5 22.4
1980 418 373 91 020 327 353 28.4 6.2 22.2
1981 423 973 88 481 335 492 28.2 5.9 22.3
1982 408 895 92 244 316 651 26.9 6.1 20.8
1983 405 122 95 174 309 948 26.3 6.2 20.1
1984 391 064 100 725 290 339 25.1 6.5 18.6
1985 389 599 98 089 291 510 24.6 6.2 18.4
1986 361 735 96 145 265 590 22.4 6.0 16.4
1987 357 723 97 756 259 967 21.8 6.0 15.8
1988 344 179 95 934 248 245 20.7 5.8 14.9
1989 363 343 105 239 258 104 21.6 6.3 15.3
1990 341 223 97 713 243 510 20.8 6.0 14.8
1991 356 593 95 574 261 019 21.7 5.8 15.9
1992 356 842 98 380 258 462 21.5 5.9 15.6
1993 350 707 96 179 254 528 20.8 5.7 15.1
1994 356 071 100 394 255 677 20.8 5.9 14.9
1995 343 224 104 707 238 517 19.9 6.0 13.9
1996 340 649 122 161 218 488 19.5 7.0 12.5
1997 333 219 114 591 218 628 18.8 6.4 12.4
1998 322 672 112 653 210 019 18.2 6.2 12.0
1999 328 725 115 330 213 395 18.1 6.3 11.8
2000 347 749 116 200 231 549 18.4 6.1 12.3
2001 358 583 112 858 245 725 18.9 5.9 13.0
2002 367 709 111 863 255 846 19.1 5.8 13.3
2003 370 643 115 495 255 148 18.9 5.9 13.0
2004 364 711 114 915 249 796 18.5 5.8 12.7
2005 370 731 132 097 238 634 18.1 6.5 11.6
2006 373 538 117 467 256 071 18.8 5.9 12.9
2007 386 573 118 992 267 581 19.2 5.9 13.3
2008 373 575 123 814 249 761 18.4 6.1 12.3
2009 368 304 127 776 240 528 18.0 6.2 11.8
2010 364 565 128 603 235 962 17.7 6.2 11.4
2011 363 415 123 261 240 154 17.4 5.9 11.5
2012 20,425,000 355 900 122 063 233 837 17.5 6.0 11.5 2.252
2013 20,585,000 365 792 127 124 238 668 17.9 6.2 11.7 2.264
2014 20,771,000 349 715 127 758 221 957 16.8 6.2 10.6 2.148
2015 20,970,000 334 821 131 634 203 187 16.0 6.3 9.7 2.046
2016 21,203,000 331 073 130 765 200 308 15.6 6.2 9.4 1.985
2017 21,444,000 326 052 139 822 186 230 15.2 6.5 8.7
2018 21,670,000 328 112 139 498 188 614 15.1 6.4 8.7
2019 21,803,000 319 010 146 053 172 957 14.6 6.7 7.9
2020 21,919,000 301 706 132 431 169 275 13.8 6.0 7.8
2021 22,156,000 284 848 163 936 120 912 12.9 7.4 5.5 1.7(e)

[36][37]

Life expectancy

Life expectancy in Sri Lanka since 1901
Life expectancy in Sri Lanka since 1960 by gender
Period Life expectancy in
Years
Period Life expectancy in
Years
1950–1955 54.5 1985–1990 68.9
1955–1960 58.3 1990–1995 70.0
1960–1965 60.3 1995–2000 69.1
1965–1970 62.9 2000–2005 73.2
1970–1975 65.2 2005–2010 74.1
1975–1980 67.0 2010–2015 74.6
1980–1985 69.1

Source: UN World Population Prospects[38]

Population pyramid

Population by Sex and Age Group (Census 20.III.2012): [39]
Age Group Male Female Total %
Total 9 856 634 10 502 805 20 359 439 100
0–4 879 223 864 639 1 743 862 8.57
5–9 882 108 865 644 1 747 752 8.58
10–14 829 069 810 983 1 640 052 8.06
15–19 819 927 824 322 1 644 249 8.08
20–24 742 316 790 567 1 532 883 7.53
25–29 743 510 809 338 1 552 848 7.63
30–34 796 866 842 549 1 639 415 8.05
35–39 686 037 723 040 1 409 077 6.92
40–44 661 623 697 586 1 359 209 6.68
45–49 618 140 667 690 1 285 830 6.32
50–54 581 293 638 167 1 219 460 5.99
55–59 500 871 563 358 1 064 229 5.23
60–64 425 428 492 482 917 910 4.51
65-69 283 764 349 525 633 289 3.11
70-74 181 846 230 568 412 414 2.03
75-79 116 389 166 797 283 186 1.39
80-84 64 250 95 129 159 379 0.78
85-89 28 293 45 148 73 441 0.36
90-94 9 293 14 965 24 258 0.12
95+ 6 388 10 308 16 696 0.08
Age group Male Female Total Percent
0–14 2 590 400 2 541 266 5 131 666 25.21
15–64 6 576 011 7 049 099 13 625 110 66.92
65+ 690 223 912 440 1 602 663 7.87

Immigrant stock by source country

As of 2017, 40,018 foreign-born people lived in Sri Lanka per United Nations' population division.[40]

Country of birth Population (2017)
 India 10,814
 Italy 5,107
 China 2,482
 Kuwait 1,755
 United Arab Emirates 1,689
 Saudi Arabia 1,417
 Maldives 1,409
 United Kingdom 1,193
 Malaysia 925
 Japan 849
 Pakistan 829
 Lebanon 741
 Bangladesh 674
 United States 613
 Singapore 612
 South Korea 611
 Germany 561

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics

Ethnicity in Sri Lanka (2012)[25]

  Sinhalese (74.9%)
  Sri Lanka Tamils (11.2%)
  Sri Lankan Moors (9.3%)
  Indian Tamils (4.2%)
  Other (0.5%)
Population pyramid 2016

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated:[41]

  • Population - 21,481,334 (July 2012 est.)[lower-alpha 9]
  • Age structure - 0–14 years: 23.9% (male 2,594,815/female 2,493,002); 15–64 years: 68% (male 7,089,307/female 7,418,123); 65 years and over: 8.1% (male 803,172/female 926,372) (2010 est.)
  • Median age - total: 31.1 years; male: 30.1 years; female: 32.2 years (2012 est.)
  • Population growth rate - 0.913% (2012 est.)
  • Birth rate - 17.04 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
  • Death rate - 5.96 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
  • Net migration rate - -1.95 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
  • Urbanization - urban population: 14% of total population (2010); rate of urbanization: 1.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
  • Sex ratio - at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15–64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female; total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
  • Infant mortality rate - total: 9.47 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 10.44 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 8.45 deaths/1,000 live births
  • Life expectancy at birth - total population: 75.94 years; male: 72.43 years; female: 79.59 years (2012 est.)
  • Total fertility rate - 2.17 children born/woman (2012 est.)
  • Health expenditures - 4% of GDP (2009)
  • Physicians density - 0.492 physicians/1,000 population (2006)
  • Hospital bed density - 3.1 beds/1,000 population (2004)
  • HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate - less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
  • HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS - 2,800 (2009 est.)
  • HIV/AIDS - deaths - fewer than 200 (2009 est.)
  • Major infectious diseases - degree of risk: high; food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A; vectorborne disease: dengue fever and chikungunya; water contact disease: leptospirosis; animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
  • Nationality - noun: Sri Lankan(s);
    adjective: Sri Lankan
  • Ethnic group - Sinhalese 73.8%; Sri Lankan Tamil 11.15%; Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%; Indian Tamil 4.6%; other 0.5%; unspecified 2.75% (2001 census provisional data)[lower-alpha 10]
  • Religion - Buddhism 70.19%; Hinduism 12.61%; Islam 9.71%; Christianity 7.45%; Other 0.05% (2012 [42] provisional data)
  • Languages - Sinhala 74%; Tamil 25%; other 1%[lower-alpha 11]
  • Literacy - definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 91.2%; male: 92.6%; female:90% (2010 census)

Notes

  1. Estimate.
  2. Non scientific census of the whole island.
  3. Indian Tamils were only classified as a separate ethnic group from 1911 onwards. Prior to this they were included with Sri Lankan Tamils.
  4. Indian Moors were only classified as a separate ethnic group from 1911 to 1971. Prior to 1911 they were included with Sri Lankan Moors. After 1971 they were included with Others.
  5. The 1941 Census was postponed due to World War II.
  6. The 1951 Census was postponed due to a shortage of paper at the time.
  7. 2001 Census was only carried out in 18 of the 25 districts. Inclusion of data would be misleading.
  8. The official census dates for the 2011 Census was 20 March 2012.
  9. Since the outbreak of hostilities between the government and armed Tamil separatists in the mid-1980s, several hundred thousand Tamil civilians have fled the island and more than 200,000 Tamils have sought refuge in the West (July 2010 est.) Aside from such migrants, there is an estimated 1.7 million Sri Lankans who are employed abroad (2010 est.), through which Sri Lanka earned USD 4.1 billion in annual worker remittances in 2010. Such remittances are a key source of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka.
  10. These figures are based on the 2001 census which was only carried out partially in the Northern and Eastern provinces, where the majority of Sri Lankan Tamils and Hindus live. Therefore the Sri Lankan Tamil and Hindu percentage is grossly understated. The Sri Lankan government estimates that the Tamils (Sri Lankan and Indian) account for 18% of the population.
  11. English is commonly used in government and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population as second language.

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