The population of Ampara district is almost entirely made up by the Muslim (44%), Sinhala (38%) and Tamil (18%) people. Rest of the communities, like the Indigenous, Malay, Burgher and Theligu (Gypsies) make up less than a fraction of a percent. But how they contribute to the richness in the culture of Ampara is equally exciting.

Indigenous people or, as they call themselves, Vanniyelatto have been living in the area called Bintanna from prehistoric times. They were hunter-gatherers and walked about in the forest in small groups. This lifestyle has almost completely disappeared now. You can still see the last of the Vadddahs, as they are known in Sinhala, in certain small villages like Pollebadda and Henanigala, where they are struggling hard to give up their ancient ways and adopt agriculture as a livelihood.

Indian Muslims from Malabar started doing business with Sri Lanka once the Sammanthura port became the
business sea portal of Sinhala Kings as their kingdom finally moved to central hills. Some of them settled down here and took up transport, in addition to business, as a trade. Later some became traditional paddy farmers and it is only in Ampara that you can see Muslim paddy farmers in large numbers. And they inherited some Hindu practices as well, like the system of dowry for the bride. Most of the Muslim community is settled in Sammnathura, Kalmuna, Nindavur, Akkarapattu and Pottuvil.

Most of the Sinhala people in Ampara are the descendants of migrants from the Southern and Central parts ofthe island following the initiation of the Gal Oya project after the Independence. The old dwellers, who were mostly chena cultivators, were found in Padiyatalawa, Maha Oya, Damana, Panama and certain parts of Uhana.

The old Sinhala culture, probably as old as the written history of the country, had been diverse and rich and remnants are still seen in areas like Panama. But now this is rapidly being replaced by the cultures that the migrants brought with them. The Tamil community may have moved to this area during the Polonnaruwa Era. A stone script at the