Tamil Americans

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Tamil Americans
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Predominantly: Minority:
Related ethnic groups

Tamil Americans (தமிழ் அமெரிக்கர்கள்) are Americans who are of Tamil origin. The majority of Tamil Americans come from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and as well as other Indian states and also from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore

In 2000, the number of Tamil speakers in the US numbered at 62,495. By 2010 the number surged to 170,526 and was 363,880 by 2020. The rise in Tamil population in USA is attributed to the H1B visa program and the presence of a large number of Tamil students studying in American universities.


In the second half of the 20th century, Tamils from India migrated as skilled professionals to the United States, Canada, Europe, and Southeast Asia. The Tamil American population exceeds 350,000 individuals.[2] The Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America functions as an umbrella organization for the growing community.[3]

Central New Jersey is home to the largest population concentration of Tamil-Americans. Sizeable populations of Indian American Tamils have also settled in New York City, and New Jersey and New York house separate Tamil Sangams.[4] The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and the Research Triangle area on the East Coast as well as Silicon Valley on the West Coast also have Tamil associations.[5]

The New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas are home to the largest concentrations of Tamil-speaking Sri Lankan Americans.[6][7][8] New York City's Staten Island alone is estimated to be home to more than 5,000 Sri Lankan Americans,[9] one of the largest Sri Lankan populations outside Sri Lanka itself,[10] and a significant proportion of whom speak Tamil.

The New York City Metropolitan Area, including Central New Jersey, as well as Long Island and Staten Island in New York, is home to the largest Tamil American (தமிழ் அமெரிக்கர்கள்) population.

The majority of Tamil Americans live in Chicagoland, the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, the cities of the Texas Triangle, New York City, Northern Virginia, and Central New Jersey. There are also significant populations in other urban areas as well.


The Indian Tamil community in the United States is largely bilingual. Tamil is taught in weekly classes in many Hindu temples and by associations such as the American Tamil Academy in South Brunswick, Tamil Jersey School in Jersey City, and the Intl. Tamil Academy.[11][12]

The language's written form is highly formal and quite distinct from the spoken form. A few universities, such as the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, have graduate programs in the language.[13]


The Indian Tamil community is majority-wise connected to the Hindu community. In most Hindu temples in the United States, the prayers are in Sanskrit. However, in North Brunswick, New Jersey, the "Tamil Temple" ("Tamil Annai Thirukkoyil") conducts all the prayers in the Tamil language. The Hindu Temple in Houston, Texas, is dedicated to Meenakshi, a manifestation of the goddess Parvati. There is also an active Tamil Muslim and Christian minority, as well as Jains and Buddhists. Tamil Muslims also hold a Tamil Muslim Community Sangam-Iman America/QMFUSA[14]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "Commuting Times, Median Rents and Language other than English Use in the Home on the Rise". December 7, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  2. ^ US Census 2006–2008 American Community Survey See Row# 125
  3. ^ "ABOUT FETNA". Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  4. ^ New Jersey Tamil Sangam
  5. ^ Bay Area Tamil Manram Archived 2010-10-27 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2012 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  7. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2011 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  8. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2010 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  9. ^ Kirk Semple (2013-06-08). "Sri Lankans have gathered on Staten Island,..." The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  10. ^ "Why Staten Island?". Little Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2015-07-25.
  11. ^ See "School offers Tamil language classes" Sentinel Sept. 4, 2014
  12. ^ Holy Haber (December 2016). "D-FW donors give biggest contribution to Harvard chair in Tamil literature". Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  13. ^ Vasudha Narayanan, "Tamils" in David Levinson and Melvin Ember, eds. American immigrant cultures: builders of a nation (1997). p. 878.
  14. ^ Narayanan, "Tamils," p. 877.

Further reading[edit]