Sri Lankan Americans

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Sri Lankan Americans
Total population
49,116 (born in Sri Lanka, 2017)[1]
Regions with significant populations
New York City Metropolitan Area (including New York City), Central New Jersey, and Long Island)[2][3][4] Greater Boston, Los Angeles metropolitan area, Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Atlanta metropolitan area, Dallas metropolitan area, Houston area,[5] and other major American metropolitan areas
English, Sinhala and Tamil
predominantly Theravada Buddhism

Sri Lankan Americans (Sinhala: Sri Lankika Amerikanu, Tamil: Ilangkaī Amerikan) are Americans of full or partial Sri Lankan ancestry. Sri Lankan Americans are persons of Sri Lankan origin from various Sri Lankan ethnic backgrounds. The people are classified as South Asian in origin.


Sri Lankans started arriving in the U.S. around the mid 1950s in larger numbers, but there is evidence from U.S. census records of Sri Lankans having arrived in earlier years from Ceylon mostly between the 1880s and 1890s.

In 1975, Sri Lankan immigrants were classified for the first time as belonging to a category separate from "other Asian". In that year, 432 Sri Lankans entered the United States.

According to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service records, in 1996, 1,277 Sri Lankans were naturalized. This included 615 who had arrived in 1995 and 254 who had arrived in 1994, compared with only 68 arrivals in 1993 and 17 before 1985.

The number increased to 14,448 in the 1990s in conjunction with the Sri Lankan Civil War. Sri Lankan Americans settled largely in cities.[6]


Historical population

The New York City Metropolitan Area, including New York City, Long Island, and Central New Jersey, contains the largest Sri Lankan community in the United States, receiving the highest legal permanent resident Sri Lankan immigrant population,[2][3][4] followed by the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Little Sri Lanka, in the Tompkinsville neighborhood of the borough of Staten Island in New York City, is one of the largest Sri Lankan communities outside of the country of Sri Lanka itself.[8][9][10] As of 2019, Sri Lankans were coalescing on Staten Island.[11] Staten Island alone has been estimated as home to more than 5,000 Sri Lankan Americans.[12]

Around 40% were born in the United States, while only a half are U.S. citizens.[13]


Sri Lankan Americans are generally educated and affluent. With a median income of $74,000, Sri Lankan Americans are the third most successful Asian American group (tied with Japanese Americans) in regards to income. Additionally, 57% of Sri Lankan Americans over the age of 25 have a bachelor's degree or more.[14]


  • Association of Sri Lankans in America (AHRCL)
  • Friends of Sri Lanka in the United States
  • Sri Lanka America Association of Southern California (SLAASC)
  • Sri Lanka Association of New England (SLANE)[15]
  • Sri Lanka Foundation[16]
  • Sri Lankan American Association of Houston[17]
  • Sri Lankan American Cultural Association (SLACA)[18]
  • Sri Lankan Youth Organization (SLYO) [19]
  • The Association of Sri Lankan Muslims in North America (TASMiNA)[20]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "PLACE OF BIRTH FOR THE FOREIGN-BORN POPULATION IN THE UNITED STATES: Foreign-born population excluding population born at sea - 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2012 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  3. ^ a b "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2011 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  4. ^ a b "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2010 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  5. ^ "Sri Lankans in the U.S. Fact Sheet".
  6. ^ "Sri Lankan Americans - History, Modern era, The first Sri Lankans in America". 1948-02-04. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  7. ^ Population Division (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. 2006.
  8. ^ "Why Staten Island?". Little Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2015-07-25.
  9. ^ Harrison Peck. "NYC The Official Guide - Must-See Little Sri Lanka: 7 Great Things to See and Do". NYC & Company, Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  10. ^ Amy Zavatto (August 5, 2010). "Frommer's - New York City: Exploring Staten Island's Little Sri Lanka". John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  11. ^ "Little Sri Lanka: An Island Nation Unites on Staten Island". Charter Communications. October 8, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  12. ^ Kirk Semple (2013-06-08). "Sri Lankans have gathered on Staten Island,..." The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  13. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results". Archived from the original on 2014-12-29. Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  14. ^ "Key facts about Asian Americans, a diverse and growing population". Pew Research Center. 8 September 2017.
  15. ^ "SLANE". Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  16. ^ "Home". Sri Lanka Foundation. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  17. ^ "Sri Lankan American Association of Houston". SLAAH. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  18. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  19. ^ "Non-profit - United - S.L.Y.O - Sri Lankan Youth Organization". Non-profit - United - S.L.Y.O - Sri Lankan Youth Organization.
  20. ^ "Home". Retrieved June 29, 2022.

External links[edit]