Sri Lanka is the 53rd most populated nation in the world, with an annual population growth rate of 0.79%. Sri Lanka has a birth rate of 15.63 births per 1,000 people and a death rate of 6.49 deaths per 1,000 people. Population density is the greatest in western Sri Lanka, especially in and around Colombo. There is a small population on the island of the Wanniyala-Aetto people, also known as Veddahs. These are believed to be the oldest and indigenous ethnic group to inhabit the island. The Sinhalese people form the largest ethnic group in the nation, composing approximately 74% of the total population. Sri Lankan Tamils form 18% of the population, and are mainly concentrated in the northeastern part of the country. Tamils who were brought as indentured labourers from India by British colonists to work on estate plantations, are called "Indian Origin" Tamils. They are distinguished from the native Tamil population that has resided in Sri Lanka since ancient times. There is a significant population of Moors, who trace their lineage to Arab traders and immigrants. Their presence is concentrated in the eastern provinces. There are also small ethnic groups such as the Burghers (of mixed European descent) and Malay people.
Sinhalese and Tamil are the two official languages of Sri Lanka. English is spoken by approximately 10% of the population, and is widely used for education, scientific and commercial purposes. Members of the Burgher community speak variant forms of Portuguese Creole and Dutch with varying proficiency. Sri Lanka also enjoys significant religious diversity. Approximately 68% of Sri Lankan peoples are adherents of Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism is the predominant school, with distinctive sects such as Ramanna Nikaya, Amarapura Nikaya and Siam Nikaya being widely followed. Buddhism in Sri Lanka has been deeply influenced by indigenous faiths and traditions, as well as the influences of prevailing Buddhist schools in South East Asia. The ancient and famous Sri Dalada Maligawa or "Temple of the Tooth" is the principal Buddhist Temple in Sri Lanka, and by tradition houses the Tooth of Buddha. It is visited every year by millions of pilgrims. There are many other famous religious institutions in Sri Lanka that attract many visitors daily. Hinduism is practiced by 18% of the population, mainly from the Tamil community. Christianity is practiced by 7-8% of the population, especially by the Portuguese and Dutch Burgher people. While most Sri Lankan Christians are Catholics, there are also significant numbers who adhere to Dutch Reformed Church and the Anglican Communion.