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Hill Country Tamil woman working in a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka.
(4.2% of the Sri Lankan population) (2012)
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Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka are Tamil people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka. They are also known as Hill Country Tamils, Up-Country Tamils or simply Indian Tamils. They are partly descended from workers sent from South India to Sri Lanka in the 19th and 20th centuries to work in coffee, tea and rubber plantations. Some also migrated on their own as merchants and as other service providers. These Tamil-speakers mostly live in the central highlands, also known as the Malayakam or Hill Country yet others are also found in major urban areas and in the Northern Province. Although they are all termed as Tamils today, some have Telugu and Malayalee origins as well as diverse South Indian caste origins. They are instrumental in the plantation sector economy of Sri Lanka. In general, socio-economically their standard of living is below that of the national average and they are described as one of the poorest and most neglected groups in Sri Lanka. In 1964 a large percentage were repatriated to India, but left a considerable number as stateless people. By the 1990s most of these had been given Sri Lankan citizenship. Most are Hindus with a minority of Christians and Muslims amongst them. Politically they are supportive of trade union derived political parties that have supported most of the ruling coalitions since the 1980s.