Ethnically, 74% of the population is Sinhalese and speaks Sinhala, the national language; 18% is Tamil (people of South Indian origin) and speaks Tamil, an official language since 1978. About 70% of the Tamils are "Ceylon Tamils" — citizens whose ancestors have lived in Sri Lanka for many generations and who have full voting rights. Most live in the northern and eastern provinces, but many Ceylon Tamils live in Colombo and throughout the island. The other 30% of the Tamil population are the so-called "Indian Tamils," whose ancestors were brought from South India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to work on tea and rubber plantations. Most were disenfranchised in Sri Lanka by legislation passed in 1948. Because India also refused to recognize them as citizens, the Indian Tamils were considered stateless.