Ampara District’s population was 648,057 in 2012. The district is one of the most diverse in Sri Lanka, both ethnically and religiously.

The population of the district, like the rest of the east and north, was affected by the civil war. The war killed an estimated 100,000 people. Several hundred thousand Sri Lankan Tamils, possibly as much as one million, emigrated to the West during the war. Many Sri Lankan Tamils also moved to the relative safety of the capital Colombo. The war also caused many people from all ethnic and religious groups who lived in the district to flee to other parts of Sri Lanka, though most of them have returned to the district since the end of the civil war.

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