Populations Fact Sheet

Their have been many censuses recording since ancient times in Ceylon. The first official mention of the populace was as long ago as 1st century AD. A statement of 250,000 villages was given by the representatives of Anuradhapura to the Court of Roman emperor Claudius. This shows the enormity of the population of the Sinhala Kingdom at that time but many invasions from South India, most notably of Magha. It can surmised a drastic drop, would have accorded during the 13th Century. According to Henry Parker, who was the director of irrigation during the early 20th Century, estimated a population of at least 60 millions. This he gathered from the amount of Wewa’s and temples, through out this Isle.

According to many sources both Indigenous and Colonial, many areas had to be repopulated.

One such area, according records given by the Portuguese, was Jaffna. According to the sources available to this Colonialist, Jaffna had no population, till it was repopulated by a Kings of Kotte. Their are no mentions of this in the Mahawamsa but seems to have been a commonly held knowledge during the Portuguese period. More investigations, regarding this matter and I think with today’s situation, most imperative!


If we fast forward to 27th January 1824, to the first accurate census of Ceylon. published in 1827 by the government press. We can gain a greater insight into the situation, just as British Colonialism began.

Also readings given from this record are quite complicated. As they give population figures according to the villages, then added together is given the district total. This document, which apprently is not found in Ceylon anymore, is the only evidence showing the fact that the British goverment called the 'Govigama' caste, as Wellala. Only knowning South Indian terms, they labeled the Govigama as Wellala, this is clearly seen in Colombo, Galle, Tangalle, Hambantota etc etc...This then begs the question, that if that is the case, then it has to be the same in the Eastern and Northern districts of this book. The British are fully aware of Malabar's, as they are seperately listed within these for mentioned caste lists of each area. Our personal opinion, is that more information needs to be gathered in this regard. This unintentional mistake, is also made in the Colbrooke & Cameron Reforms 1833.

This document consists of three parts; Maritime Sinhalese Districts, Malabar Districts & Kandyan Districts and most the accurate can be considered, what is described as the maritime districts. These are classified as Singhalese:Colombo, Galle, Tangalle & Chilaw(Which then include Puttlam, Kalptiya and areas such Medawetchia). The other as, so called Malabar districts:Jaffna, Battecoloa, Trincomalle, Delft & Mannar. The Malabar populations of these districts are given as such;

Malabar districts: 195,697

If we were to even assume that this entire amount was constituted by Malabar's, which is highly unlikely but for a moment if we were too, then add an astonishing 10% growth per 10 years, would give by 2009 a total amount of 891,029. Which is less 50% of today's so called Sri Lankan Tamil populace. So one cant but wonder, how then today's more than 2,000,000 SL Tamil populations came about?

Chart....PDF, Jpeg

Then in 1839, another census had been carried out. This census, also seems to be a document that is hard to locate. Although, thanks to E.B.Denham and his cenus of 1911. He gives these stastics on pg177;

Whites: 9,121
Free Blacks: 1,194,452
Slaves: 27,397
Aliens and Resident Strangers: 10,825

Total population of = 1,241,795


Now many people, I am sure will think that the Free Blacks refers to Sinhala and Tamil people but that isn’t in fact the case. As we shall show;

The Free Blacks is regarding the Sinhala populace and the Slaves and Alien and Resident Strangers, refers to the Malabar or Tamil populace of 37,222(Less than 3% of total populace).

For the evidence of this, we must refer to the Ferguson’s Directory(Link), published in 1863. The details of this were recorded by the Dutch Burger Union.



The Census of 1863, only records the settled populations of Ceylon and I will remind all that, we have stated that the Colbrooke Commission, states that the Malabars are not a resident populace in Ceylon but migratory with their homes and families in India.

From the information given, the populace at that time was:

Sinhalese: 1,157,000
Moors: 130,000
European Decedents: 4,000

The Europeans and Tamils are not included in this table, as their increase and decrease are not due to normal conditions’.


This shows that the Sinhala populations at 1,157,000. This proves that the so called 'free blacks' in the report of 1835, can only represent the Sinhalese. Otherwise these tables, make no sense. As the numbers would be too high, even with natural growth rates.

It has been stated that a total including the migrants, population comes to nearing 2,000,000. This would give an estimated 800,000 migrant Tamil populations(Coolies, Labourers and Colonizers) in 1863.


Two points must be made at this point:

  1. If you notice, even with natural population increase, their is a decline of 37,482 in the Sinhala populations from 1835-1863(28years). This can be easily explained, as J.M.Tennet himself states in 1847. All Kandians lands from Kandy to Trincomalle have been cleared and are now crown property. This statement is nothing short of admitting to mass murder and robbery! It was after this in 1848, that he suggests to settle entire whole Malabar villages from South India, into to these Kandian lands and is approved by Torrington.
  2. I am sure many will think that the Tamils have not been included in this because of their association with the estate labourers but in fact distinction had already been made, as is seen from the recordings of Tennet in 1852. So no reasons, why If their were any settled tamil communities in Ceylon at that time, for them to have been ignored.




Today, we have a population demography of:

Sinhalese 73.8%
Sri Lankan Tamil 13.9%
Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%
Indian Tamil 4.6%

Others Burgher, Sri Lankan Malay, and Veddah 0.5%


When seeing these recordings, one can see that the percentages have not changed much since independence. So one can assume that this ratio if natural, should have been near the same during the 1830's but it wasn't.




One can assume, that the ratio that stood at 1835, where less than 3% Tamil populace had existed changed. Even though British records, brings to question, the 3% in 1835 but overall if not for British policies, the Tamil populations shouldnt have changed but today a Tamil population of near 18% stands. If things were not meddled with, it stands to reason, that the Tamil population in Lanka, should in fact only be 3%!