Sri Lankan Culture

Sri Lankans in Australia

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Sri Lankans have been in Australia since the late 19th century. It is believed that many immigrated as labourers or gold prospectors. The Sri Lankan community remained relatively small well into the 20th century, with most being Burghers (descendants of European colonisers). This was largely because of the White Australia Policy, whereby only those of European descent were permitted to enter Australia.


The Sri Lankan community began to grow from World War II. Once Sri Lanka gained independence from English in 1948, many more Burgher Sri Lankans began to migrate to the English-speaking West. The end of the White Australia Policy saw large numbers of Sinhalese and Tamil Sri Lankans settling in Australia. During the civil conflict in Sri Lanka (1983-2009), the Sri Lanka-born population in Australia grew due to the intake of immigrants under the special humanitarian program.


Some of the subsequent Sri Lanka-born arrivals have come to Australia under the family reunion program or as independent immigrants. However, the majority of migrants from Sri Lanka over the last five years arrived as skilled immigrants. Indeed, 70.6% of the Sri Lanka-born population aged 15 years and over had some form of higher education (e.g. a university degree).

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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 -
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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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