The Sinhalese people are the main ethnic group of Sri Lanka. They originated in the north-east section of India and later settled to Sri Lanka. They speak Sinhala, an Indo-European language and number approximately 15 million people with the vast majority found in Sri Lanka, while more than 400,000 live in other countries, mainly in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom.
The Sinhalese are also known as "Hela" or "Sinhela". These synonyms find their origins in the two words: Sinha (meaning "lion") and Hela (meaning "pristine"). The name Sinhala translates to "lion people" and refers to the myths regarding the descent of the legendary founder of the Sinhalese people, the prince Vijaya. The last royal dynasty on the island was the Sinha (Lion) royal dynasty and the word Sinha finds it origins here.