Sri Lankan Tamil people (Tamil: ???? ??????, i?at tami?ar [?]), or Ceylon Tamils, are an ethnic group native to the South Asian island state of Sri Lanka who predominantly speak Tamil. According to anthropological evidence, Sri Lankan Tamils have lived on the island since the 2nd century BCE. Most modern Sri Lankan Tamils descend from the 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.
Sri Lankan Tamils are culturally and linguistically distinct from the other two Tamil-speaking minorities in Sri Lanka, the Indian Tamils and the Moors. Genetic studies indicate that they are most closely related to the Sinhalese than any other Asian group. With the Tamil and Sinhalese population sharing a common gene pool of 55%. 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 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 and pogroms 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.
Sri Lankan Tamils have historically migrated to find work, notably during the British.