Tamil (தமிழ் tamiḻ; IPA: [t̪ɐmɨɻ]) is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Puducherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore. It is one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of India and the first Indian language to be declared as a classical language by the government of India in 2004. Tamil is also spoken by significant minorities in Malaysia, Mauritius and Réunion as well as emigrant communities around the world.
Tamil literature has existed for over two thousand years. The earliest epigraphic records found date from around the third century BCE. The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from the 300 BCE – 300 CE. Inscriptions in Tamil Language from 1st century BCE and 2nd century CE have been discovered in Egypt and Thailand. The first two ancient manuscripts from India, to be acknowledged and registered by UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 & 2005 were in Tamil. More than 55% of the epigraphical inscriptions – about 55,000 – found by the Archaeological Survey of India in India are in the Tamil language. According to a 2001 survey, there were 1,863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies.