Burgher people

Total population
37,061 (2012 census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Western 24,170
 Eastern 4,458
 Central 3,347
 North Western 2,192
Related ethnic groups

Burgher people, also known simply as Burghers, are a small Eurasian ethnic group in Sri Lanka descended from Portuguese, Dutch, British[2][3] and other European men who settled in Sri Lanka[4][5] and developed relationships with native Sri Lankan women.[6] The Portuguese and Dutch had held some of the maritime provinces of the island for centuries before the advent of the British Empire.[7][8][9] With the establishment of Ceylon as a crown colony at the end of the 18th century, most of those who retained close ties with the Netherlands departed. However, a significant community of Burghers remained and largely adopted the English language.[8] During British rule they occupied a highly important place in Sri Lankan social and economic life.[9]

Portuguese settlers on Ceylon were essentially traders, but wished to form colonies, and Lisbon did nothing to discourage European settlement—even to the extent of advocating intermarriage with the Sinhalese. This was not encouraged by the Sinhalese. It was not the policy of the Dutch East India Company to endorse similar unions, although a number of unofficial liaisons between its employees and local women occurred in the late eighteenth century.[8]

Burghers may vary from generation to generation in physical characteristics; some intermarried with the British[9] and produced descendants with predominantly European phenotypes, including fairer skin and a heavier physique, while others were almost indistinguishable from Sinhalese or Tamils.[7] Most Burgher people have preserved European customs; especially among those of Portuguese ancestry, who "retained their European religion and language with pride."[10][11]

  1. ^ "A2: Population by ethnic group according to districts, 2012" (PDF). Census of Population & Housing, 2011. Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka. 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Peter Reeves, ed. (2014). The Encyclopedia of the Sri Lankan Diaspora. Editions Didier Millet. p. 28. ISBN 978-981-4260-83-1. Retrieved 20 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Sarwal, Amit (2015). Labels and Locations: Gender, Family, Class and Caste – The Short Narratives of South Asian Diaspora in Australia. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 34–35. ISBN 978-1-4438-7582-0. Retrieved 20 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Jupp, James (2001). The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins (2 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 940. ISBN 978-0-521-80789-0. 
  5. ^ Ferdinands, Rodney (1995). Proud & Prejudiced: the story of the Burghers of Sri Lanka (PDF). Melbourne: R. Ferdinands. pp. 2–32. ISBN 0-646-25592-4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Reeves, Peter (2014). The Encyclopedia of the Sri Lankan Diaspora. Editions Didier Millet. p. 28. 
  7. ^ a b Orizio, Riccardo (2000). "Sri Lanka: Dutch Burghers of Ceylon". Lost White Tribes: The End of Privilege and the Last Colonials in Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Brazil, Haiti, Namibia, and Guadeloupe. Simon and Schuster. pp. 5–55. ISBN 978-0-7432-1197-0. Retrieved 20 March 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c Pakeman, SA. Nations of the Modern World: Ceylon (1964 ed.). Frederick A Praeger. pp. 18–19. ASIN B0000CM2VW. 
  9. ^ a b c Cook, Elsie K (1953). Ceylon – Its Geography, Its Resources and Its People. London: Macmillan & Company Ltd 1953. pp 272—274.
  10. ^ Smith, IR. Sri Lanka Portuguese Creole Phonology. 1978. Dravidian Linguistics Association.
  11. ^ de Silva Jayasuriya, Shihan (December 1998). "The Portuguese Cultural Imprint on Sri Lanka" (PDF). Lusotopie 2000. pp. 253–259. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 

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