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Tamil People - An Athropological view

The Tamilars can be defined as people, having Tamil as their mother tongue. Tamil language is a member of the Dravidian/ South Indian family of languages. The four southernmost states of India- tamiz Nadu, kERaLa, karNAdaka, and Andra Pradesh- are predominantly linguistically Dravidian, each state carved out on the basis of predominance of the four major Dravidian languages. The Dravidian languages are mother tongues of about a quarter of the Indian population. Though about 80% of the speakers are found within the borders of these four South Indian states, a number of Dravidian languages have been identified in other parts of South Asia. Among the tribal languages of Central India, almost extending to the borders of Bengal, distinct from the Austro-Asiatic family of languages, many Dravidian languages have been identified. The northern reaches of this family have been located in isolated settlements in Nepal and Pakistan. The Brahui speakers are found in the hills of Baluchistan, almost on the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. So, the Dravidian family of languages is a South Asian family of languages in one sense. About 22 languages are classified as belonging to the Dravidian family and on linguisic criteria, sub-division as North, Central and South Dravidian are made. Tamilars alone number about 70 million people.

South India and Sri Lanka have been homelands of the Tamilars, from the beginning of recorded history. The region, roughly covered by the modern states of tamiz NAdu and Kerala are identified as ancient tamizakam up to about 10th century AD. Even though some evidence exists for Tamil influence , and Tamil presence in Sri Lanka is noticeable from very early times, strong Tamil presence and influence in Sri Lanka, from about the 10th century. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Tamilars migrated to some British colonies in search of employment and thus there are substantial Tamil populations in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Fiji and South Africa. After the World War II, a movement of Tamil professionals to UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand is proceeding continuously. Due to the recent civil war type situation in Sri Lanka, many thousands of Tamilars in about 20 countries, with large numbers in Canada, Germany, France, and Switzerland. Within the Nordic countries, Norway and Denmark have more Tamilars than weden.

The Tamil people are a South Asian community numbering more than seventy million and living mostly in Tamil Nadu state and neighbouring areas in south-eastern India (70 million), in the north and east of Sri Lanka (three million), in Malaysia (two million) and in Singapore (approx two hundred thousand).

Nearly all Tamils speak the Tamil language, one of the Dravidian tongues once spoken widely across the Indian subcontinent but now largely confined to its southern quarter. Generally speaking, Tamils have a stronger ethno-linguistic identity than other Indian language-groups, distinguishing themselves from other Indian groups speaking Sanskrit-derived languages.

Most Tamils are Hindu, with significant minorities being Christian or Muslim.



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