Sri Lankan Tamil people (Tamil: இலங்கை தமிழர், ilankai tamiḻar ? also Tamil: ஈழத் தமிழர், īḻat tamiḻar ?), or Ceylon Tamils also known as Eelam Tamils in Tamil, are a section of Tamil people who are natives of the South Asia island state of Sri Lanka. According to anthropological evidences and archaeological evidences, Sri Lankan Tamils have a very long history in Sri Lankan history and have lived on the island since around the 2nd century BCE. Most modern Sri Lankan Tamils claim descent from residents of Jaffna Kingdom, a former kingdom in the north of the island and Vannimai chieftaincies from the east. They constitute a majority in the Northern Province, live in significant numbers in the Eastern Province, and are in the minority throughout the rest of the country.
Although Sri Lankan Tamils are culturally and linguistically distinct, genetic studies indicate that they are closely related to other ethnic groups in the island. The Sri Lankan Tamils are mostly Hindus with a significant Christian population. Sri Lankan Tamil literature on topics including religion and the sciences flourished during the medieval period in the court of the Jaffna Kingdom. Since the beginning of the civil conflict in the 1980s, it is distinguished by an emphasis on themes relating to the Sri Lankan Civil War. Sri Lankan Tamil dialects are noted for their archaism and retention of words not in everyday use in the Tamil Nadu state in India.
Since Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain in 1948, relations between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil communities have been strained. Rising ethnic and political tensions, along with ethnic riots in 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983, led to the formation and strengthening of militant groups advocating independence for Tamils. The ensuing Sri Lankan Civil War has resulted in the deaths of more than 70,000 people and the forced disappearance of thousands of others.
One-third of Sri Lankan Tamils now live outside Sri Lanka. While there was significant migration during the British colonial period, the civil war that began in 1983 led to more than 800,000 Tamils being forced from their homes within Sri Lanka, and many have left the country for destinations such as Canada, India and Europe.
Estimates varying from less than 10000, to 40,000 Sri Lankan Tamils were reportedly killed in the final weeks of the military victory over Tamil rebels in 2009 as a result of multiple war crimes atrocities that were committed by Sri Lankan Military, according to the UN, but the end of the civil war has not improved conditions in Sri Lanka, with press freedom not being restored and judiciary coming under political control. Sri Lankan Tamils continue to seek refuge in countries like Canada and Australia. The International Organisation for Migration and the Australian government have declared Tamil refugees as economic migrants. Canada has tightened controls on their refugee program due to various abuses within the Canadian refugee system. A Canadian government survey found that over 70% of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees have gone back to Sri Lanka for holidays raising concerns over the legitimacy of their refugee claims.
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