|37,061 (2012 census)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Related ethnic groups|
Burgher people, also known simply as Burghers, are a small Eurasian ethnic group in Sri Lanka descended from Portuguese, Dutch, British and other European men who settled in Sri Lanka and developed relationships with native Sri Lankan women. The Portuguese and Dutch had held some of the maritime provinces of the island for centuries before the advent of the British Empire. 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. During British rule they occupied a highly important place in Sri Lankan social and economic life.
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.
Burghers may vary from generation to generation in physical characteristics; some intermarried with the British and produced descendants with predominantly European phenotypes, including fairer skin and a heavier physique, while others were almost indistinguishable from Sinhalese or Tamils. Most Burgher people have preserved European customs; especially among those of Portuguese ancestry, who "retained their European religion and language with pride."