Sri Lankan Culture

Do's and Do Not's

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Do’s

  • Use open-ended questions and watch body language to understand how a Sri Lankan feels about something. They are unlikely to speak openly when they disagree with something.
  • Treat Sri Lankan elders with visible respect. For example, address them first and defer to their opinion.
  • Sri Lankans tend to be reluctant to criticise. It is best to reciprocate this through remaining polite, modest and gentle in order to give and avoid losing face for both yourself and your Sri Lankan counterpart.
  • Be sensitive and understanding, especially with respect to the recent civil conflict. Sri Lankans are likely to warm to those who exhibit sympathy where it is appropriate.


Do not’s

  • Avoid raising your voice or showing strong displays of negative emotion. Sri Lankans generally view this as a loss of control.
  • Drawing parallels between Sri Lanka and India may offend your Sri Lankan counterpart. Sri Lankans take great pride in being culturally and politically distinct from India.
  • Politics and the civil conflict in Sri Lanka are sensitive topics. It is best not to initiate a conversation on the matter unless you know the person well. If the topic does arise, be sensitive about the grief and trauma that your Sri Lankan counterpart may have experienced.
  • A person’s religious affiliations are also a sensitive topic, avoid discussing alternative religious views unless you know the person well.
  • Avoid touching or sitting on any image or statue of the Buddha.
Sri Lanka
  • Population
    22.235 million
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Sinhala (official) (74%)
    Tamil (official) (18%)
    Other (8%)
    Note: English, spoken competently by about 10% of the population, is commonly used in government and is referred to as the link language in the constitution.
    [2012 census]
  • Religions
    Buddhism (70.2%)
    Hinduism (12.6%)
    Islam (9.7%)
    Catholic Christianity (6.1%)
    Other (1.8%)
    [2012 census]
  • Ethnicities
    Sinhalese (74.9%)
    Sri Lankan Tamil (11.2%)
    Sri Lankan Moors (9.2%)
    Indian Tamil (4.2%)
    Other (0.5%)
    [2012 census]
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 80
    Individualism 35
    Masculinity 10
    Uncertainty Avoidance 45
    Long Term Orientation 45
    Indugence N.A.
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  • Australians with Sri Lankan Ancestry
    138,268
    Including Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamil and Sri Lankan (ndf)
    [2016 census]
Sri Lankans in Australia
  • Population
    109,849
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Sri Lanka.
  • Average Age
    41
  • Gender
    Male (51.1%)
    Female (48.9%)
  • Religion
    Buddhism (38.1%)
    Catholic Christianity (23.4%)
    Hinduism (17.8%)
    Anglican Christianity (5.7%)
    Other (2.7%)
  • Ancestry
    Sri Lankan (50.9%)
    Sinhalese (18.4%)
    Tamil (9%)
    English (4.3%)
    Other (17.4%)
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Sinhalese (47.4%)
    English (26.7%)
    Tamil (23%)
    Other (1.7%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 91.9% speak English fluently.
  • Diaspora
    Victoria (50.9%)
    New South Wales (27.4%)
    Queensland (8.9%)
    Western Australia (6.2%)
  • Arrival
    Prior to 2001 (53.5%)
    2001-2006 (17.3.%)
    2007-2011 (25.8%)
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