Sri Lankan Tamils or Ceylon Tamils, also known as Eelam Tamils in Tamil, are members of the Tamil ethnic group native to the South Asian island state of Sri Lanka. According to anthropological and archaeological evidence, Sri Lankan Tamils have a long history in Sri Lanka and have lived on the island since at least around the 2nd century BCE. Most modern Sri Lankan Tamils claim descent from residents of Jaffna Kingdom and 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. 70% of Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka live in the Northern and Eastern provinces, although Sri Lankan Tamils are culturally and linguistically distinct, genetic studies indicate that they are closely related to Sinhalese ethnic group 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 Sri Lankan Civil War in the 1980s, 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, the ensuing civil war resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 people and the forced disappearance of thousands of others. The civil war ended in 2009 but there are continuing allegations of atrocities being committed by the Sri Lankan Military, a United Nations panel found that as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the final months of the civil war. The end of the war has not improved conditions in Sri Lanka, with press freedom not being restored. One-third of Sri Lankan Tamils now live outside Sri Lanka, there is little scholarly consensus over the presence of the Sri Lankan Tamil people in Sri Lanka, also known as Eelam in Sangam literature. Theories about Tamil peoples presence in Sri Lanka feed into the cycle of ethnic conflict, another theory states that the Sri Lankan Tamils are descendant of the Nagas, who started to assimilate to Tamil culture and language around 3rd BCE. The indigenous Veddhas are physically related to people in South India and it is not possible to ascertain what languages that they originally spoke as Vedda language is considered diverged from its original source. Tamil Brahmi and Tamil-Prakrit scripts were used to write the Tamil language during this period on the island, bearing a remarkable resemblance to burials in the Early Pandyan Kingdom, these sites were established between the 5th century BCE and 2nd century CE. Excavated ceramic sequences similar to that of Arikamedu were found in Kandarodai on the north coast, cultural similarities in burial practices in South India and Sri Lanka were dated by archaeologists to 10th century BCE. However, Indian history and archaeology have pushed the back to 15th century BCE. In Sri Lanka, there is evidence from Anuradhapura that the non-Brahmi symbol-bearing black. The skeletal remains of an Early Iron Age chief were excavated in Anaikoddai, the name Ko Veta is engraved in Brahmi script on a seal buried with the skeleton and is assigned by the excavators to the 3rd century BCE
Image: Megalithic burial jar
South Indian type black and red ware pot sherds found in Sri Lanka and dated to 1st to 2nd century CE. Displayed at the National Museum of Colombo.