Sri Lanka Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

Sri Lanka Country Overview

Where is Sri Lanka located? The island nation of Sri Lanka is located in the Indian Ocean not far from the tip of India. Because of its proximity to mainland India, Sri Lanka is also assigned on the time zone map to Indian Standard Time, a world time zone that has a time difference of +5:30 hours. Since there is no time change to daylight saving time, clocks in Sri Lanka are always 5:30 later than the world clock.

Sri Lanka National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Sri Lanka is 22,889,201, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 22,889,201
Population growth rate 0.67%
Birth rate 15.20 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall life expectancy 76.15 years
Men life expectancy 72.64 years
Women life expectancy 79.79 years
Age structure
0-14 years 23.75%
15-64 years 66.28%
65 years and above 9.98%
Median age 32.10 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 0.96
Population density 348.87 residents per km²
Urbanization 21.00%
74.9% Sinhalese, 11.2% Sri Lankan Tamils, 9.2% Moors, 4.2% Indian Tamils, 0.2% Burghers, 0.2% Malays
Buddhists 70%, Hindus 15%, Christians 8%, Muslims 7% (1999)
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.780
HDI ranking 71st out of 194

People in Sri Lanka

Most of the residents of Sri Lanka are Sinhalese, namely 75 out of 100. Sinhalese means ” lion man” by the way. 15 out of 100 residents are Tamils. 10 out of 100 residents are Muslims who are called Moors. They are mostly descendants of Arab immigrants.

Most of the Tamils ​​live in the north or east of the island. Some of the Tamils ​​come from Sri Lanka, the smaller part from India. A large number of Indian Tamils ​​work on the tea plantations in the north. Their ancestors come from India and already worked on the plantations of the British colonial rulers.

Most of the 22 million people live in rural areas. Only 18 out of 100 live in a city. A small part lives directly on the country’s plantations. Four out of 100 people in Sri Lanka live in extreme poverty and live on less than one euro a day. 23 out of 100 do not have enough money to buy food. Many residents also go abroad to earn money there and to be able to support their families.

Languages in Sri Lanka

The country’s official languages ​​are Sinhala and Tamil. English is also spoken, especially in the larger cities or tourist regions of the country.

Religions in Sri Lanka

Most Sinhalese are Buddhists. There are almost 70,000 Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The Tamils ​​are mostly Hindus and the Moors are always Muslim. Everywhere in the country there are Buddhist and Hindu temples, but also mosques. Sometimes the beliefs mix and especially in the southwest of Sri Lanka the belief in spirits is still very widespread.


Buddha’s teaching knows no god and also no further life after death. Man has to ensure that he is happy on earth. And he will not do this by striving for wealth, but by succeeding in overcoming the suffering that is in the world and in finding himself. According to this, only each individual finds salvation for himself. And how he gets there, Buddha shows. Buddha is also not a god, but in the broadest sense a teacher and guide. This is where the Buddhist religion differs from other world religions such as Christianity or Islam, which worship a certain god and believe in a life in the hereafter.

Buddhist teaching came in the 3rd century BC. In today’s Sri Lanka, where the Hindus people followed the caste system. The teachings of the Buddha had already spread to the Indian continent. It was also understood as a protest against the caste system, especially against the Brahmins caste (that is, the priests). These stood at the top of the caste system and wanted to maintain their power. And since the Buddha’s teaching does not know any god, there is no need for priests to establish a connection with a god. At least that’s how it was in India. In Sri Lanka, the caste system was not so strong and the Brahmins had no power, so Buddhism was easier to establish and spread.

But the struggle between the new Buddhist and the old Hindu rulers was not only a religious but also a political struggle for power. This also explains why, many years later (until today), there were always serious arguments.

Buddhism became a national Buddhism that fought against the Hindu Tamils. For many years the Sinhalese Buddhists had defended their religion externally. Even the Christians could not gain ground in Sri Lanka. So they relied on this form of state Buddhism and repelled all other religions.