Census

 
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Northern Province

(Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar & Vavuniya)

Census information from 1881-2012 has consistently shown that every division in the Northern Province bar one has had an overwhelming Tamil speaking majority. The one exception is the small Vavuniya south division which borders Anuradhapura district and has a long standing Sinhala majority. It is this division that accounts for the majority of Sinhala people in the province, which prior to independence did not exceed 2% of the total population1-5.

Population of Northern Province by ethnic group 1881 to 2012

Year

Tamil

Muslim

Sinhalese

Total
No.

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

1881 Census 289,481 95.70% 10,416 3.44% 1,379 0.46% 302,500
1891 Census 304,355 95.32% 11,831 3.71% 1,922 0.60% 319,296
1901 Census 326,379 95.73% 11,862 3.48% 1,555 0.46% 340,936
1911 Census 352,698 95.41% 12,818 3.47% 2,890 0.78% 369,651
1921 Census 356,801 95.19% 13,095 3.49% 3,795 1.01% 374,829
1946 Census 449,958 93.82% 18,183 3.79% 9,602 2.00% 479,572
1963 Census 689,470 92.93% 30,760 4.15% 20,270 2.73% 741,910
1971 Census 799,406 91.07% 37,855 4.31% 39,511 4.50% 877,768
1981 Census 1,021,006 92.03% 50,991 4.60% 35,128 3.17% 1,109,404
2012 Census 993,741 93.86% 32,364 3.06% 32,331 3.05% 1,058,762

 

Eastern Province

(Trincomalee, Batticaloa & Amparai)

Every district in the Eastern Province in the 19th and early 20th century had an overwhelming Tamil speaking majority1-5. In 1911 the Eastern province was over 95% Tamil speaking, although a Sinhala minority predominated in some inner hinterland areas5. The eastern littoral itself was almost entirely Tamil speaking and formed a contiguous Tamil region with the north via contact between Trincomalee and Mullaitivu districts. It is this North-East region that forms the territorial basis of the Tamil homeland.

Population of Eastern Province by ethnic group 1881 to 2012

Year

Tamil

Muslim

Sinhalese

Total
No.

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

1881 Census

75,318

58.96%

43,001

33.66%

5,947

4.66%

127,755

1891 Census

86,701

58.41%

51,206

34.50%

7,508

5.06%

148,444

1901 Census

96,917

55.83%

62,448

35.97%

8,778

5.06%

173,602

1911 Census

101,181

55.08%

70,395

38.32%

6,909

3.76%

183,698

1921 Census

103,245

53.54%

75,992

39.41%

8,744

4.53%

192,821

1946 Census

136,059

48.75%

109,024

39.06%

23,456

8.40%

279,112

1953 Census

167,898

47.37%

135,322

38.18%

46,470

13.11%

354,410

1963 Census

246,059

45.03%

184,434

33.75%

108,636

19.88%

546,474

1971 Census

315,566

43.98%

247,178

34.45%

148,572

20.70%

717,571

1981 Census

410,156

42.06%

315,436

32.34%

243,701

24.99%

975,251

2007 Census

590,132

40.39%

549,857

37.64%

316,101

21.64%

1,460,939

2012 Census

617,295

39.79%

569,738

36.72%

359,136

23.15%

1,551,381

 

References

1. Nicholas Bergman, Return of the population of the island of Ceylon, Colombo 1827

2. The census of Ceylon, Colombo 1888

3. The census of Ceylon, 1901 (Colombo 1902) pp 82-83

4. Census publications, Ceylon 1921, Vol IV, (Colombo, 1926) p239

5. The census of Ceylon, 1911, Colombo 1922, p35

6. Census of Ceylon, 1946, General Report, vol. 1, part 1, Colombo 1950.

7. Census of Ceylon, 1953, Vol. 1, part 2;

8. Census of Ceylon, 1963, (Colombo, 1967);

9. Census of Population, 1971, Sri Lanka, Colombo 1978

10. Sri Lanka Population Census-1981 – Dept. of Census & Statistics