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Malays in Sri Lanka

Mastan, a Malay trader

Sri Lanka, hailed as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is in the throes of a long drawn out ethnic conflict between the majority Sinhalese population and the minority Tamils who form nearly 70 per cent and 20 per cent respectively of the population.
However, the island nation does not belong to only these communities as highlighted in the international press coverage. The island is blessed with an interesting cultural mosaic that has enriched its history and civilization in the past.
Known in the ancient times to the Arabs as the Serendib, and Taprobane for the Greeks, the mango-shaped island of some 25,000 square miles of natural beauty has been a home for a mosaic of several ethnic minorities.
A leading elite Malay family of Sri Lanka,  Hon. M.K. Saldin, the first Malay Legislative Councillor, (Centre his children and sons-in-laws).
Some are indigenous people like the Veddas, others were lured to the island by trade like the Arab-Moors, while some others such as Chetties Borahs and Memons settled during the colonial period beginning from the 16th century.
Not the least interesting of these is the Malay community, now totalling about 80,000 people out of a total population of about 18 million. This article deals with this colourful community, especially the cultural contributions of the Malays to both Sri Lanka and the larger Malay-speaking world. Read More


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