Geographic Distribution of Tamil Language


"Of all the languages that we know, we do not find anything, as sweet as Tamil"


The oldest language in the world is Tamil. In ancient Tamil language goes back to the year 300 BC but its origins are said to trace back even further too about 2500 BC. Tamil is still in use today and is spoken mainly in India and Sri Lanka. Tamil is the primary language of the majority of the people residing in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka.


The language is also spoken among small minority groups in other states of India which include Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and in certain regions of Sri Lanka such as Colombo and the hill country. Tamil or dialects of it were used widely in the state of Kerala as the major language of administration, literature and common usage until the 12th century AD.


Tamil inscriptions are found in many countries. In India some of the Tamil inscriptions found in southern Andhra Pradesh districts of Chittoor and Nellore until the 12th century AD. Tamil was also used for inscriptions from the 10th to 14th century in southern Karnataka districts such as Kolar, Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore. There are currently sizeable Tamil-speaking populations descended from colonial-era migrants in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Mauritius, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Vietnam.


In Reunion where the Tamil language was forbidden to be learned and used in public space by France it is now being relearnt by students and adults. It is also used by groups of migrants from Sri Lanka, India, Canada especially Toronto, United States especially New Jersey and New York City, Australia, many Middle Eastern countries, and some Western European countries.

In Canada, the month of January has been declared as "The Tamil Heritage Month".


In addition, with the creation in October 2004 of a legal status for classical languages by the Government of India and following a political campaign supported by several Tamil associations, became the first legally recognized Classical language of India.


Multilingual sign board with Tamil in Sri Lanka

Multilingual signs board with Tamil in Sri Lanka (Tsunami early warning tower)

Multilingual danger sign in Singapore with Tamil writing

A Multilingual danger sign in Singapore with Tamil writing

hospital sign in Toronto, Canada written in Tamil

A hospital sign in Toronto, Canada written in Tamil

Countries where Tamil is an official language.


    singapore flag
  • Singapore
  • srilanka flag
  • Sri Lanka

Some countries recognized Tamil as minority language


    south african flag
  • South Africa
  • malaysia flag
  • Malaysia
  • mauritus flag
  • Mauritius

Countries where Tamil is used and has cultural impact but not official


    reunion flag
  • Réunion
  • seychelles flag
  • Seychelles

Former Indian territories where Tamil was an official language



Indian flag  Haryana

Tamil was an official language of the Indian state of Haryana until it was replaced by the Punjabi.

Indian flag  Chandigarh

Tamil was an official language of the Indian Union Territory of Chandigarh until it was replaced by the Punjabi.


Partially recognized and unrecognized territories in India



Indian flag   Karaikal

Separate union territory in India.


Dependent entities where Tamil is an official language



Indian flag  Tamil Nadu

State of India

Indian flag  Pondicherry

Union Territory of India


Indian flag  Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Union Territory of India

Indian flag  Auroville

Autonomous City of India