Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken in southern India and northeastern Sri Lanka. It has official status in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and was the first Indian language to be declared as a classical language by the Government of India in 2004. Tamil is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world. It has been described as "the only language of contemporary India which is recognizably continuous with a classical past." The variety and quality of classical Tamil literature has led to it being described as "one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world". A recorded Tamil literature has been documented for over 2000 years. The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from ca. 300 BCE – ca. 300 CE. It has the oldest extant literature among other Dravidian languages. The earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts and hero stones date from around the 3rd century BCE. More than 55% of the epigraphical inscriptions (about 55,000) found by the Archaeological Survey of India are in the Tamil language. According to a 2001 survey, there were 1,863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies.