What Is the National Language of Sri Lanka?

national-language-sri-lanka Credit: Kevin Clogstoun/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

The national languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhalese and Tamil. According to "The World Factbook," a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency publication, 74 percent of the population speaks Sinhalese and 18 percent speaks Tamil as of June 2014.

Many Sri Lankans speak both Sinhalese and Tamil. Since 1988, both languages have been designated by the Sri Lankan constitution as languages of legislation and administration. Their constitution also recognizes English as a "link language" that is used in government and commerce.

Sri Lanka is home to speakers of a number of smaller, unofficial languages, such as Veddah, which has around 2,500 speakers; Sri Lankan Malay, which has around 45,000 speakers; and Indo-Portuguese, a creole language based on Portuguese that has around 3,400 speakers. Deaf people in Sri Lanka communicate using Sri Lankan Sign Language.