The 1921 census gave Ceylon a population of about 4,500,000 residents The Sinhalese predominate (3,016,154; 67% of the total population), who arrived, according to local traditions, in the century. Street. C. from the north and currently divided into two main groups, namely the plain Sinhalese and the Kandy Sinhalese. They profess Buddhism, introduced from India in the century. III a. C., which has its center in Kandy, in the mountains, where a tooth of the Buddha is said to be preserved in the so-called Temple of the Tooth. The northern part of the island is mainly inhabited by Tamils (1,120,059; 24% of the total population), of Hindu religion, who came from India in the past as conquerors and recently as workers in the tea, rubber and coffee plantations. Mohammedan Moors (284,964; 6.3% of the total population) are traders, sailors and fishermen. The descendants of the ancient Portuguese and Dutch colonists, although notably crossed with the natives, form a very distinct group and are called Burghers (29,000). There are also a number of Malaysians (13,000). There were more than 8000 Europeans in 1921. In the wildest mountainous regions there still live a few thousand (4500) of Vedda (v.), Representing a very primitive human type of great ethnological interest; but their number is rapidly decreasing. 62% of the population is dedicated to agriculture, 12% to industrial work, 8% to commerce. The urban population is 13% of the total. The main cities are: Colombo, with 244,163 residents (1921); ] affna (42,436 residents); Kandy (32,562 residents); Nuwara Eliya (7525 residents); Galle (39,703 residents); Batticaloa (10,564 residents); Trincomalee (9414 residents
The two main indigenous languages are: 1. Sinhala and 2. Tamil (or Tamul). Sinhala belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the large Indo-European language family, while Tamil was imported to the island from the southern regions of India and belongs to the Dravidian family.
Among the languages imported by Europeans, we must remember in the first place the Portuguese, introduced after the conquest of 1505 and continued to speak, albeit to a decreasing extent, even after the Dutch conquest; the Portuguese implanted in Ceylon has formed a very interesting Creole language there, which has a fairly rich literature (see Creole, languages). The Dutch was instead replaced by the English which is, from the century. XIX, the only European language truly widespread in Ceylon.
According to PARADISDACHAT, education is free in indigenous schools (government or autonomous), while it is paid for in English schools. There are 4000 schools in all, including technical and industrial schools. A university was opened in 1921.
The following table shows the population increase since 1827.
The distribution of the population is very uneven. It is concentrated in the maritime regions of the southwest and in the mountainous districts, where tea and rubber are grown, almost all of which number more than 152 residents. per sq. km., and is minimal in the districts of the northern plain, in which it is less than 20, except that of Jaffna.
In Ceylon there is an immigration of workers from southern India, which in the period 1911-20 gave an annual average of 160,190 immigrants; emigration instead, made up of coolies returning to India, was 142,532 individuals a year.
The Sinhalese are a tall, long-headed, regular-featured, not very dark-skinned race that resembles the northern Indian races more than the southern Indian Dravidians. The origin of their division into Plain Sinhalese and Kandyani is obscure. The distinction may be due in part to the infusion of Vedda blood among the Kandyan Sinhalese and the prevalence of foreign influence among the coastal residents. The most important practical difference is that Kandyan Sinhalese follow a particular customary law, which includes many characteristic marriage and succession clauses that are still strictly observed. According to one of them, apart from adultery or desertion, divorce is also obtained by mutual consent. There are also two types of union: dam the husband welcomes his wife into his own home and she loses her rights to the property of the parents; in the binna marriage the husband lives in the house of the in-laws. The Sinhalese have a distinctive costume: both men and women wear a skirt similar to the lungyi of Burma; the women also wear a tight-fitting cotton blouse and a loose jacket of light, light fabric, and the men of the upper classes a white European-cut jacket with a high collar. The men of the older generation wear long hair tied at the nape of the neck, and on the top of the head a curious comb formed by a piece of turtle folded in the shape of a three-quarter circle, with very short teeth and pointed ends; it is placed on the head like a crown with the tips forward. The current generation prefers short hair, and the use of combs is becoming more limited. 86.3% of the plain Sinhalese are Buddhists (1921), but no less than 13.7% are Christians (mostly Roman Catholics); while 99% of those in Kandy are Buddhists and only 0.7%,
The northern and eastern provinces are the regions proper to the Tamils, which differ from the Sinhalese in appearance, habits and way of life. They are in fact dark-skinned, coarser features, and speak a Dravidian language. From the indigenous Tamils we distinguish, as already mentioned, the Tamils recently immigrated from India, which are found especially in the plantations of the south-western part of the island. Among the sub-tribes of the Tamils of Ceylon are the Mukkuvar of Batticaloa and the Waggai, Buddhists, who speak a mixed language of Sinhala and Tamil.
The Moors of Ceylon are generally believed to be descendants of Arab traders, who seem to have settled between the century. X and XV the maritime trade with the East and from which the Moors have inherited the ability to trade; as such they are currently found in many parts of the island. Also for the Moors a distinction is made between those who over time have become indigenous and the Indian Moors who move between India and Ceylon. Malaysians currently living on the island are believed to be descendants of Malay troops imported by the Dutch from Java, or of Javanese princes and their escorts deported to Ceylon. The Burghers they are Eurasians, that is of mixed Dutch (or, in any case, European) and indigenous descent. They follow European customs and ways of life, speak English, and not only occupy much of the government offices but have given Ceylon some of its most eminent personalities.