List of territorial entities where Tamil is an official language

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The following is a list of sovereign states and territories where Tamil is an official language or language of government.

Historical map of Chola Empire where Tamil was the language of administration.
Distribution of Tamil speakers in Indian Subcontinent.

Tamil is the 20th most spoken language in the world. Tamil language speakers make approximately 1.06% of the world population. Tamil was one of the prominent languages of trade in the region during the pre-colonial era. Tamil mercantile guilds like Ainnurruvar were active in Southeast Asia, and there are Tamil inscriptions and coins found in parts of Asia and Africa such as in China, Cambodia, Egypt and Indonesia.[1]

During the 18th century, the British and French colonial rulers brought Tamils to many parts of Asia and Africa where many countries have sizeable number of Tamil speakers with significant cultural impact. There are more than 2,000,000 speakers of Tamil language in Malaysia itself. Tamil was recognized as a classical language by the Government of India and it is the first recognized classical language in India[2] and it is also one of the 22 official languages in India.[3]

Sovereign states[edit]

The skyline of a city, showing many tall buildings near a body of water
The skyline of Singapore in 2015
Countries where Tamil is an official language (de jure)
Country Region Population1 Status
India Republic of India[3] Asia 66,742,402[4] Sovereign State
Singapore Singapore[5] Asia 188,591[6] Sovereign State
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka[7] Asia 5,007,003[8] Sovereign State

Dependent entities[edit]

Entity Country Population Status
India Auroville[9] India 2,600 Autonomous City of India
India Puducherry[10] India 1,244,464 Union Territory of India
India Tamil Nadu[11] India 72,138,958 State of India

Recognized as minority language[edit]

Country Population Notes
South Africa South Africa 250,000 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 - Chapter 1: Founding Provisions states "A Pan South African Language Board established by national legislation must promote and ensure respect for Tamil" along with other minority languages.[12]
Malaysia Malaysia 1,800,000 Malaysian government recognize Tamil as a minority language along with Chinese. The "national-type" school's medium of instruction is either in Tamil or Chinese.[13]
Mauritius Mauritius 72,089 Tamils are the first immigrants to Mauritius who were brought by French. Later British brought Tamils to fight with French and as a recognition, Tamil is being used on the currency of Mauritius.[14]

Partially recognized and unrecognized territories[edit]

Entity Notes
Tamil Eelam Claiming sovereignty over the North and Eastern Sri Lanka and Puttalam district as[15][16]
India Karaikal Claiming for a separate union territory in India.[17]

Former territories resp. dependent entities where Tamil was an official language[edit]

Entity Country Population Status Notes
India Haryana India 10,572 State of India Tamil was once given nominal official status in Haryana but it was later replaced with Punjabi, in 2010.[18]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Tamil Inscriptions". Archaeology India. Tamil Inscriptions of Egypt and Thailand
  2. ^ Stein, Burton (1977-01-01). "Circulation and the Historical Geography of Tamil Country". The Journal of Asian Studies. 37 (1): 7–26. doi:10.2307/2053325. JSTOR 2053325.
  3. ^ a b "Languages Included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constution | Department of Official Language | Ministry of Home Affairs | GoI". Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  4. ^ "2001 Census of India". National Portal of India.
  5. ^ Wong, Aline (2000-11-24). "Education in a Multicultural Setting - The Singapore Experience". Ministry of Education, Government of Singapore. Archived from the original on 2008-05-04. Retrieved 2009-01-18. There are four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
  6. ^ "Department of Statistics, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Republic of Singapore" (PDF). Census of population 2010. Department of statistics Singapore.
  7. ^ "Language Dept Sri Lanka". Tamil and Sinhala official language of Sri Lanka
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing of Sri Lanka, 2012" (PDF). Census of Population and Housing of Sri Lanka, 2012. Department of Census and Statistics-Sri Lanka.
  9. ^ "Auroville - A to Z". Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  10. ^ "The Pondicherry Official Languages Act, 1965" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  11. ^ "The Tamil Nadu Official Language Act, 1956" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  12. ^ Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 - Chapter 1: Founding Provisions - South African Government
  13. ^ National Identity and Minority Languages
  14. ^ A Brief History of the Tamils of Mauritius
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Punjabi edges out Tamil in Haryana". Retrieved 2018-08-09.