The Sinhalesemake up for 74.9% of the population according to 2012 census. They live in the densely populated south-west and central parts of the Sri Lankan Island. The Sri Lanka Tamils, live predominantly in the north-east of the island forming the largest minority group at 11.2% of the population.
The Moors who are descendent of Arab traders that settled in Sri Lanka happen to be the third largest ethnic group with 9.2% of the population. They live in urban areas in the southern parts of the island with substantial populations in the Central and Eastern provinces. There are also Indian Tamils who form distinct ethnic group which comprises 4.2% of the population.
Most Sinhalese follow Buddhism, most Tamils Hinduism; the Moors and Malaysfollow Islam, whereas sizeable Sinhalese and Tamil minority populations follow Christianity. The Burgher population is mostly Roman Catholic. The Veddahspractice Animism and Buddhism. The 1978 constitution of the nation while assuring freedom of religion to all citizens grants primacy to Buddhism.
Severe Communal Clashes hit Sri Lanka
Deadly riots recently broke out in Sri Lanka between Muslims and hardliner Buddhists. The United States and the European Union have also expressed concerns over reports of severe arson and rioting by Buddhist mobs in Sri Lanka where four people from the minority Muslim community died since riots broke out on June 14, 2014 in the two Muslim-majority towns on the Sinhalee Buddhist dominated southern coast of the island.
Riots broke during a protest march held by the hardliner faction of the Buddhist community called Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). The protesters reportedly hurled gasoline bombs and looted homes and shops in several areas leading to clashes. The attacks are the latest in a series of religious violence to have hit the island. Muslims constitute about 10 percent of the country’s 20 million people, but are accused by nationalists of having undue influence on the Buddhist-majority country. Muslim leaders in the country have demanded UN intervention in the worst hit religious riots in the country.