Tamil people (, or ), also known as Tamilans or simply Tamils, are a Dravidian ethnic group who speak Tamil as their mother tongue. Tamil people exhibit a variety of phenotypes depending on nativity and cultural formations. Tamil people with a population of about 77 million living around the world are one of the largest and oldest of the existing ethno-linguistic cultural groups of people in the modern world to exist without a state of their own. Tamils comprise 15.36% of the population in Sri Lanka, 5.91% in India, 5.83% in Mauritius, 5% of the population in Singapore and 5.7% of the population in Malaysia. Thousands of years ago, urbanisation and mercantile activity along the western and eastern coast of what is today Kerala and Tamil Nadu led to the development of four large Tamil political states Chera dynasty, Chola dynasty, Pandyan Dynasty and Pallava dynasty and a number of smaller states warring amongst themselves for dominance. Next only to Sanskrit the Tamil language is the oldest written language among Indian languages. Between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD, Tamil people produced native literature that came to be called Sangam literature. Tamils were noted for their martial, religious and mercantile activities beyond their native borders. Pandyas and Cholas were historically active in Sri Lanka. The Chola dynasty successfully invaded parts of Southeast Asia like Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Indonesia. Medieval Tamil guilds and trading organizations like the “Ayyavole and Manigramam” played an important role in the Southeast asia trade. Pallava traders and religious leaders travelled to South East Asia and played an important role in the cultural Indianisation of the region. Locally developed scripts such as Grantha and Pallava script induced the development of many native scripts such as Khmer, Javanese Kawi script, Baybayin, and Thai. Tamil visual art is dominated by stylised Temple architecture in major centres and the productions of images of deities in stone and bronze. Chola bronzes, especially the Nataraja sculpture of the Chola period, have become notable as a symbol of Hinduism. Tamil performing arts are divided into popular and classical. Classical form is Bharatanatyam whereas the popular forms are known as Kuthus and performed in village temples and on street corners. Tamil cinema known as Kollywood is an important part of the Indian cinema industry. Music too is divided into classical Carnatic form and many popular genres. Although most Tamils are Hindus, most practice what is considered to be folk Hinduism, venerating a plethora of village deities. A sizeable number are Christians and Muslims. A small Jain community survives from the classical period as well. Tamil cuisine is informed by varied vegetarian and non-vegetarian items usually spiced with locally available spices. The music, the temple architecture and the stylised sculptures favoured by the Tamil people as in their ancient nation are still being learnt and practised. English historian and broadcaster Michael Wood called the Tamils the last surviving classical civilisation on Earth, because the Tamil mainstream preserved substantial elements of their past regarding belief, culture, music and literature despite the modern globalised world.