Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Singhalese, the inhabitants of the southern half of Ceylon, the northern half being occupied by Tamil intruders from India, take their name from Singhaladvipa ("Lion Island"), one of the old designations of Lanka (Ceylon) in the Hindu writings; Ceylon itself is a corrupt form of the same word. The Singhalese appear to be a mixed Aryo-Dravidian people, conquered and civilised at an early date by the Hindus. About 300,000 are Roman Catholics, converted during the Portuguese occupation of the island, and 212,000 Mohammedans, converted by Arab missionaries at an earlier period; the rest are Buddhists, Ceylon having remained the chief stronghold of Buddhism in the south after its suppression on the mainland. They are a mild, inoffensive, and somewhat indolent people, who are being slowly encroached upon by the Tamils of the northern districts.