|Pop:||approx. 217 million|
|Religions:||Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity|
|Related:||Brahui people Gondi people Kannadigas Kodavas Malayalis Telugus Tamils Tuluvas Indo-Aryan peoples|
Dravidian people or peoples or is a term used to refer to the diverse groups of people who natively speak languages belonging to the Dravidian language family. Populations of speakers of around 220 million are found mostly in Southern India. Other Dravidian people are found in parts of central India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. The most populous Dravidian people are the Telugus, Tamils, Kannadigas and the Malayalis. Smaller Dravidian communities with 1–5 million speakers are the Tuluvas, Gonds and Brahui.
There are two definitions for Dravidian ethnicity which are generally divided between proposing that Dravidian people are an ethnic group in their own right, or Dravidian peoples are a collective group of ethnolinguistic ethnicities. The World Book encyclopedia, Volume 10 says: "Most southern Indians belong to the Dravidian ethnic group;" referring to them as one ethnic group, while the The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: Volume 8; Volume 21 refers to 'Dravidian ethnic groups', suggesting the latter definition. Hence, depending on the definition and context, both 'Dravidian people' and 'Dravidian peoples' may be used.
The English word Dravidian was first employed by Robert Caldwell in his book of comparative Dravidian grammar based on the usage of the Sanskrit word drāvida in the work Tantravārttika by . For the origin of the Sanskrit word , various theories have been proposed. These theories concern the direction of derivation between and ; such linguists as Zvelebil assert that the direction is from to .
Although in modern times speakers of the various Dravidian languages have mainly occupied the southern portion of India, nothing definite is known about the ancient domain of the Dravidian parent speech. It is, however, a well-established and well-supported hypothesis that Dravidian speakers must have been widespread throughout India, including the northwest region. Origins of Dravidian people are informed by various theories proposed by linguists, anthropologists, geneticist and historians. According to geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza in the book The History and Geography of Human Genes, the Dravidians were preceded in the subcontinent by an Austro-Asiatic people, and were followed by Indo-European-speaking migrants sometime later.
Most linguists believe that Dravidian-speaking people were spread throughout the Indian subcontinent before a series of Indo-Aryan migrations. In this view, the early Indus Valley civilization (Harappa and Mohenjo Daro) is often identified as having been Dravidian. Cultural and linguistic similarities have been cited by researchers such as Finnish Indologist Asko Parpola as being strong evidence for a proto-Dravidian origin of the ancient Indus Valley civilization.
Some scholars like J. Bloch and M. Witzel believe that the Indo-Aryan moved into an already Dravidian speaking area after the oldest parts of the Rig Veda were already composed. The Brahui population of Balochistan has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, perhaps indicating that Dravidian languages were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming Indo-Aryan languages.
Thomason and Kaufman state that there is strong evidence that Dravidian influenced Indic through "shift", that is, native Dravidian speakers learning and adopting Indic languages. Erdosy states that the most plausible explanation for the presence of Dravidian structural features in Old Indo-Aryan is that the majority of early Old Indo-Aryan speakers had a Dravidian mother tongue which they gradually abandoned. Even though the innovative traits in Indic could be explained by multiple internal explanations, early Dravidian influence is the only explanation that can account for all of the innovations at once – it becomes a question of explanatory parsimony; moreover, early Dravidian influence accounts for the several of the innovative traits in Indic better than any internal explanation that has been proposed. Zvelebil remarks that "Several scholars have demonstrated that pre-Indo-Aryan and pre-Dravidian bilingualism in India provided conditions for the far-reaching influence of Dravidian on the Indo-Aryan tongues in the spheres of phonology, syntax and vocabulary".
See main article: Genetics and archaeogenetics of South Asia. Genetic views on race differ in their classification of Dravidians. Classical anthropologists, such as Carleton S. Coon in his 1939 work The Races of Europe, argued that Ethiopia in Northeast Africa and India in South Asia represented the outermost peripheries of the Caucasoid race. In the 1960s, genetic anthropologist Stanley Marion Garn considered the entirety of the Indian subcontinent to be a "race" genetically distinct from other populations. The geneticist L.L. Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford, based on work done in the 1980s, classified Indians as being genetically Caucasian. Cavalli-Sforza found that Indians are about three times closer to West Europeans than to East Asians. More recently, other geneticists, such as Lynn B. Jorde and Stephen P. Wooding, demonstrated that South Indians are genetic intermediaries between Europeans and East Asians.   Nevertheless, Indians are classified by modern anthropologists as belonging to one of four different morphological or ethno-racial subtypes, although these generally overlap because of admixture: Caucasoid and Mongoloid (concentrated in the north), Australoid (concentrated in the south), and Negrito (located in the Andaman Islands).  Dravidians are generally classified as members of the Proto-Australoid or Australoid race.    In one study, southern Indian Dravidians clustered genetically with Tamils, a socially endogamous, predominantly Dravidian-speaking Australoid group.
While a number of earlier anthropologists held the view that the Dravidian peoples together were a distinct race, a small number of genetic studies based on uniparental markers have challenged this view. Some researchers have indicated that both Dravidian and Indo-Aryan speakers are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent; however, this point of view is rejected by most researchers in favor of Indo-Aryan migration, with racial stratification among Indian populations being distributed along caste lines.   
Because of admixture between Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Australoid racial groups, one cannot speak of a biologically separate "Dravidian race" distinct from non-Dravidians on the Indian subcontinent. However, northern Indians have more in common genetically with Central Asian/West Eurasian populations than southern Indian or Dravidian populations, who are more similar to East Asians, further demonstrating that there still exist significant genetic differences between Indo-European- and Dravidian-speaking populations.
In a 2009 study of 132 individuals, 560,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 25 different Indian groups were analyzed, providing strong evidence in support of the notion that modern Indians (both Indo-Aryan and Dravidian groups) are a hybrid population descending from two post-Neolithic, genetically divergent populations referred to as the 'Ancestral North Indians' and the 'Ancestral South Indians'. According to the study authors, ASI ancestry, which is represented in pure form by the Negrito populations of the Andamanese archipelago, is significantly correlated with Dravidian speakers, suggesting that ASI may have been a Dravidian-speaking population before mixing with ancestral ANI groups. ANI-ASI admixture happened some 1,200-3,500 years ago, which roughly coincides with the Indo-Aryan conquest of the Indian subcontinent.
See main article: Dravidian languages. The best-known Dravidian languages are Tamil (தமிழ்), Telugu (తెలుగు), Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ) and Malayalam (മലയാളം). There are three subgroups within the Dravidian language family: North Dravidian, Central Dravidian, and South Dravidian, matching for the most part the corresponding regions in the Indian subcontinent.
Dravidian languages are spoken by more than 200 million people. They appear to be unrelated to languages of other known families like Indo-European, specifically Indo-Aryan, which is the other common language family on the Indian subcontinent.
Dravidian grammatical impact on the structure and syntax of Indo-Aryan languages is considered far greater than the Indo-Aryan grammatical impact on Dravidian. Some linguists explain this anomaly by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan and New Indo-Aryan were built on a Dravidian substratum.
People belonging to the north-Dravidian subgroup. Found in India and Bangladesh. It is the only Dravidian language indigenous in Bangladesh.
These people belong to south-Dravidian linguistic subgroup. Mostly found in Kerala, Lakshadweep, Pondicherry, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India. A minority group is found in Arab states of the Persian Gulf, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia and Australia.
These people belong to south-Dravidian linguistic subgroup. Mostly found in Tamil Nadu, Singapore, Andaman and Nicobar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and parts of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and South Africa.
These people belong to south-Dravidian subgroup (formerly classified with the Central Dravidian but now more specifically in the South Dravidian II or South Central Dravidian inner branch of the South Dravidian. Mostly found in Andhra Pradesh also in Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
. Bhadriraju Krishnamurti. 2003. The Dravidian Languages. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. 978-0-521-77111-5. harv.
. J. P. Mallory. 1989. In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth. Thames and Hudson. London. 978-0-500-05052-1. harv.
. Kamil Zvelebil. 1990. Dravidian Linguistics: An Introduction. Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture. Pondicherry. 978-81-85452-01-2. harv.
. Edwin Bryant (author). 2001. Linguistic Substrata in Sanskrit Texts. http://books.google.com/books?id=nkJAmVuBCcIC&pg=PA76. 76–107. The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. Oxford. 978-0-19-513777-4.