Sri Lankan Moors (commonly referred to as Muslims) are the third largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, comprising 9.23% of the country’s total population. They are native speakers of the Tamil language and predominantly followers of Islam. While some sources describe them as a subset of the Tamil people who had adopted Islam as their religion and spoke Tamil as their mother tongue, which they continue to do so, other sources trace their ancestry to Arab traders (Moors) who settled in Sri Lanka some time between the 8th and 15th centuries. The Arabic language brought by the early merchants is no longer spoken, though many Arabic words and phrases are still commonly used. Until the recent past, the Moors employed Arwi as their native language, though this is also extinct as a spoken language. Moors today use Tamil as their primary language, with influence from Arabic. Those from central and southern Sri Lanka also widely use Sinhala, an Indo-European language spoken by the ethnic Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka. There are many Muslim schools in Southern, Central and Western Sri Lanka that offer education in Sinhala along with Tamil. Some madrasahs also teach in Sinhala. The Sri Lankan Moors lived primarily in coastal trading and agricultural communities, preserving their Islamic cultural heritage while adopting many Southern Asian customs. During the period of Portuguese colonisation, the Moors suffered widespread persecution, as was occurring in Iberia. Many fled to the Central Highlands and the East Coast, where their descendants remain. .