Tamil () also spelt Tamizh is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. It has official status in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Tamil is also an official and national language of Sri Lanka and one of the official languages of Singapore. It is legalised as one of the languages of medium of education in Malaysia along with English, Malay and Mandarin. It is also chiefly spoken in the states of Kerala, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a secondary language and by minorities in Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and was the first Indian language to be declared a classical language by the Government of India in 2004. Tamil is also spoken by significant minorities in Malaysia, England, Mauritius, Canada, South Africa, Fiji, Germany, Philippines, United States, Netherlands, Indonesia, Réunion and France as well as emigrant communities around the world. Tamil is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world. 2,200-year-old Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions have been found on Samanamalai It has been described as “the only language of contemporary India which is recognizably continuous with a classical past.” The variety and quality of classical Tamil literature has led to it being described as “one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world”. Tamil literature has existed for over 2000 years. The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from ca. 300 BC – AD 300. It has the oldest extant literature amongst other Dravidian languages. The earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts and hero stones date from around the 3rd century BC. More than 55% of the epigraphical inscriptions (about 55,000) found by the Archaeological Survey of India are in the Tamil language. Tamil language inscriptions written in Brahmi script have been discovered in Sri Lanka, and on trade goods in Thailand and Egypt. The two earliest manuscripts from India, acknowledged and registered by UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 and 2005, were in Tamil. In 1578, Portuguese Christian Missionaries published a Tamil prayer book in old Tamil script named ‘Thambiraan Vanakkam’, thus making Tamil the first Indian language to be printed and published. Tamil Lexicon, published by the University of Madras, is the first among the dictionaries published in any Indian language. Tamil is used as a sacred language of Ayyavazhi and in Tamil Hindu traditions of Shaivism and Vaishnavism. According to a 2001 survey, there were 1,863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies.