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 (65 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.
Armed conflict between Sri Lanka's government and militant Tamil Tiger separatists during the 1980s and 1990s has now given way to a gradual peace process. Sri Lanka's Tamil minority is mostly descendants of the island's earlier Dravidian inhabitants, with a significant minority being immigrant labor the British brough from Tamil Nadu when they ruled the area.