Tamil (தமிழ், tamil, [t̪ɐmɨɻ]) is a language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. Tamil is also spoken in Malaysia and by significant minorities in Mauritius as well as emigrant communities around the world. According to Ethnologue, about 68 million native speakers and 9 million second language speakers are around the world. It is the first Indian language to be declared as a classical language by the government of India in 2004.
Tamil literature has existed for over two thousand years. Tamil language inscriptions written circa 1st century BCE and 2nd century CE have been discovered in Egypt, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The two earliest manuscripts from India, to be acknowledged and registered by UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 & 2005 were in Tamil.