People of Sri Lanka are best known for their friendliness and hospitality They are divided into ethnic groups whose conflicts have dominated public life since the nineteenth century. The two main characteristics that mark a person's ethnic heritage are language and religion, which intersect to create four major ethnic groups--the Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Muslims, and the Burghers. Ethnic divisions are not based on race or physical appearance; some Sri Lankans claim to determine the ethnicity of a person by his facial characteristics or color, but in reality it is not. It is the. Historical circumstances that favored one or more of the groups at different times, leading to hostility and competition for political and economic power that has brought about this division. Besides this factor there is nothing in the languages or religious systems in Sri Lanka that officially promotes the social segregation of their adherents.