Karava in Sri Lanka

The Karava have only been reported in Sri Lanka
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge
* Data can be from various sources including official census, agencies, and local research. Data from these sources can sometimes differ even by orders of magnitude. Joshua Project attempts to present a conservative, balanced estimate.

Subgroups: 3

Subgroup Name Population
Kura-Kula 107,000
Mihindu-Kula 107,000
Varna-Kula 107,000

Introduction / History

Sri Lanka has been called one of the most beautiful places in the world. Unfortunately, a 26-year civil war starting in 1983 took place in the island country. Up to 100,000 died and there was millions of dollars in property damage. The majority Buddhist Sinhalese declared victory over the Tamil Tigers in 2009. Since that time Sri Lankan economy has begun to rebound and tourists have returned to the island. According to ancient records the Karava people moved from the south coasts of India to Sri Lanka in the 13th century. They became Buddhists and began speaking the Sinhalese language. The Karava are a seafaring people who make their living from fishing and in shipping goods across the sea. The Karava also served in the Sri Lankan and Indian navies that fought against the European colonial powers. With their wealth the Karava often bought tracts of land that other people work. Today they own rubber, tea and coconut plantations. A revised Sinhalese complete Bible became available in 2009.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Karava were on the winning Buddhist side in the Sri Lankan war. However, they lost many people in the war and much of their property was destroyed or damaged. The Karava are considered an upper caste in Sir Lankan society. The encourage their children to obtain college degrees and learn English. They are still making their livelihood from the sea by fishing, oyster farming, shell collecting, moving goods and serving in the Sri Lankan navy. The emblem of their people is the sea god Varuna.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Karava practice Buddhism, the major world religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama or the Buddha. He lived in the 6th and 5th century BC in ancient India. The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths by which one can gain spiritual knowledge and escape the endless cycles of reincarnation. Theravada, one of the two major branches of Buddhism, declares that by following the Noble Eightfold Path of right intentions and right actions that a Buddhist can achieve nirvana or a state of freedom and salvation. The majority of Buddhists also practice animism, a belief in the spirit world. In animism, evil spirits must be appeased through prayers, sacrifices and rituals. Two of the important Buddhist yearly holidays are Vesak, the Buddha's birthday celebrated in May or June and Bodhi Day, the holiday which commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in December.

What Are Their Needs?

The Karava need to begin to see themselves as sinners living before the one, true God. Only Jesus can forgive their sin and give them eternal life. Their high status in Sri Lankan society can be a hindrance to accepting the gospel.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Karava to tell them about Jesus. Pray that the Christ followers in this people would grow in the faith and live exemplary lives. Ask the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Karava of Sri Lanka in this decade. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully through those ministering to the Karava people.

Scripture Prayers for the Karava in Sri Lanka.



Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Karava
People Name in Country Karava
Alternate Names Karawa; करवा
Population this Country 1,110,000
Population all Countries 1,110,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 2
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed
People ID 21411
ROP3 Code 118217
ROP25 Code 303723
ROP25 Name Karava
Country Sri Lanka
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Total States on file 9
Largest States
North Western
North Central
Country Sri Lanka
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Total States 9
  Western 512,000
  Southern 212,000
  Central 128,000
  North Western 110,000
  Sabaragamuwa 76,000
  North Central 48,000
  Eastern 13,000
  Uva 11,000
  Northern 800
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent *
92.60 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
7.40 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
* From latest Sri Lanka census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Primary Language Sinhala (1,110,000 speakers)
Language Code sin   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Sinhala (1,110,000 speakers)
Language Code sin   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Sinhala

Primary Language:  Sinhala

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1739-1966)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1776-1991)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1823-2009)
FCBH NT (www.bible.is) Online
YouVersion NT (www.bible.com) Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Sinhala Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children Jesus Film Project
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Biblical answers to your questions Got Questions Ministry
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Four Spiritual Laws Campus Crusade for Christ
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Android Bible app: Sinhala YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Mobile App iOS Bible app: Sinhala YouVersion Bibles
Text / Printed Matter Literacy primer for Sinhala Literacy & Evangelism International
Text / Printed Matter Tools for faith conversations Campus Crusade for Christ
Text / Printed Matter Topical Scripture booklets and Bible studies World Missionary Press
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

Joshua Project logo    Joshua Project    Copyright © 2024