Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Overview
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. Known until 1972 as Ceylon (icon, s, or s), Sri Lanka is an island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 surrounded by the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, the Gulf of Mannar
Gulf of Mannar
The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay forming part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean. It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka. A chain of low islands and reefs known as Adam's Bridge, also called Ramsethu, which includes Mannar Island, separates the...

 and the Palk Strait
Palk Strait
Palk Strait is a strait between the Tamil Nadu state of India and the Mannar district of the Northern Province of the island nation of Sri Lanka. It connects the Bay of Bengal in the northeast with the Palk Bay and thence with the Gulf of Mannar in the southwest. The strait is wide. Several...

, and lies in the vicinity of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and the Maldives
Maldives
The Maldives , , officially Republic of Maldives , also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented north-south off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and...

. It is part of South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

.

As a result of its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia.
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Timeline

1835   The Royal College, Colombo in Sri Lanka is established with the name Hillstreet Academy.

1886   Ananda College, a leading Buddhist school in Sri Lanka is established with 37 students.

1935   The Lanka Sama Samaja Party is founded in Ceylon.

1942   World War II: The Japanese Navy attacks Colombo in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Royal Navy cruisers {{HMS|Cornwall|56|6}} and {{HMS|Dorsetshire|40|6}} are sunk southwest of the island.

1948   Ceylon (later renamed Sri Lanka) becomes independent within the British Commonwealth.

1955   Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Laos, Libya, Nepal, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sri Lanka join the United Nations.

1956   In Sri Lanka, the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna win the general elections in a landslide and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike is sworn in as the Prime Minister.

1960   Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) elects Sirimavo Bandaranaike Prime Minister, the world's first elected female head of government.

1972   Ceylon adopts a new constitution, thus becoming a Republic, changes its name to Sri Lanka, and joins the Commonwealth of Nations.

1978   A chartered Douglas DC-8 crashes near Colombo, Sri Lanka, killing 183.

 
Encyclopedia
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. Known until 1972 as Ceylon (icon, s, or s), Sri Lanka is an island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 surrounded by the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, the Gulf of Mannar
Gulf of Mannar
The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay forming part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean. It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka. A chain of low islands and reefs known as Adam's Bridge, also called Ramsethu, which includes Mannar Island, separates the...

 and the Palk Strait
Palk Strait
Palk Strait is a strait between the Tamil Nadu state of India and the Mannar district of the Northern Province of the island nation of Sri Lanka. It connects the Bay of Bengal in the northeast with the Palk Bay and thence with the Gulf of Mannar in the southwest. The strait is wide. Several...

, and lies in the vicinity of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and the Maldives
Maldives
The Maldives , , officially Republic of Maldives , also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented north-south off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and...

. It is part of South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

.

As a result of its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia. It was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

. Sri Lanka has also been a center of the Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 religion and culture from ancient times and is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 along with Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

, Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

 and the Chittagong hill tracts
Chittagong Hill Tracts
The Chittagong Hill Tracts comprise an area of 13,295 km2 in south-eastern Bangladesh, and borders India and Myanmar . It was a single district of Bangladesh until 1984. In that year it was divided into three separate districts: Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban. Topographically, this is the...

. The Sinhalese
Sinhalese people
The Sinhalese are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group,forming the majority of Sri Lanka,constituting 74% of the Sri Lankan population.They number approximately 15 million worldwide.The Sinhalese identity is based on language, heritage and religion. The Sinhalese speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language and the...

 community forms the majority of the population; Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, form the largest ethnic minority
Minority group
A minority is a sociological group within a demographic. The demographic could be based on many factors from ethnicity, gender, wealth, power, etc. The term extends to numerous situations, and civilizations within history, despite the misnomer of minorities associated with a numerical statistic...

. Other communities include Moors
Sri Lankan Moors
The Sri Lankan Moors are the third largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka comprising 8% of the country's total population . They are predominantly followers of Islam. The Moors trace their ancestry to Arab traders who settled in Sri Lanka some time between the 8th and 15th centuries...

, Burghers
Burgher people
The Burghers are a Eurasian ethnic group, historically from Sri Lanka, consisting for the most part of male-line descendants of European colonists from the 16th to 20th centuries and local women, with some minorities of Swedish, Norwegian, French and Irish.Today the mother tongue of the Burghers...

, Kaffirs
Sri Lanka Kaffir people
The Sri Lankan Kaffirs are an ethnic group in Sri Lanka who are partially descended from 16th century Portuguese traders and the African slaves who were brought by them to work as labourers and soldiers to fight against the Sri Lankan kings...

, Malays
Sri Lankan Malays
The Malays of Sri Lanka originated in Southeast Asia and today consist of about 50,000 people...

 and the aboriginal Vedda people.

Sri Lanka is a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 and a unitary state
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

 which is governed by a semi-presidential system
Semi-presidential system
The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state...

 with its official seat of government in Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, the capital. The country is famous for the production and export of tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

, coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

, coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

s, rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

 and cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

, the last of which is native to the country. The natural beauty of Sri Lanka has led to the title The Pearl of the Indian Ocean. The island is laden with lush tropical forests, white beaches and diverse landscapes with rich biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

. The country lays claim to a long and colorful history of over three thousand years, having one of the longest documented histories in the world. Sri Lanka's rich culture can be attributed to the many different communities on the island.

Sri Lanka is a founding member state of SAARC
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is an organisation of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 by Ziaur Rahman and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasising collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are Bangladesh,...

 and a member United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, G77
Group of 77
The Group of 77 at the United Nations is a loose coalition of developing nations, designed to promote its members' collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations. There were 77 founding members of the organization, but the organization has...

 and Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

. As of 2010, Sri Lanka was one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Its stock exchange
Colombo Stock Exchange
The Colombo Stock Exchange is the main stock exchange in Sri Lanka. It is one of the most modern exchanges in South Asia, providing a fully automated trading platform...

 was Asia's best performing stock market during 2009 and 2010.

Etymology


In ancient times, Sri Lanka was known by a variety of names: Known in India as Lanka or Singhala, ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobane icon and Arabs referred to it as (the origin of the word "serendipity
Serendipity
Serendipity means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it. The word has been voted as one of the ten English words hardest to translate in June 2004 by a British translation company. However, due to its...

"). was the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese when they arrived in 1505, which was transliterated into English as Ceylon. As a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 crown colony
Crown colony
A Crown colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire....

, the island was known as Ceylon
British Ceylon
British Ceylon refers to British rule prior to 1948 of the island territory now known as Sri Lanka.-From the Dutch to the British:Before the beginning of the Dutch governance, the island of Ceylon was divided between the Portuguese Empire and the Kingdom of Kandy, who were in the midst of a war for...

, and achieved independence under the name Dominion of Ceylon
Dominion of Ceylon
The Dominion of Ceylon, known today as Sri Lanka, was a dominion, in the British Empire between 1948 and 1972. In 1948, British Ceylon was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. In 1972, the Dominion of Ceylon became a republic within the Commonwealth, and its name was changed to Sri Lanka...

 in 1948.

In Sinhala the country is known as ශ්‍රී ලංකා , ʃɾiːˈlaŋkaː, and the island itself as ලංකාව laṃkāva, laŋˈkaːʋə. In Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 they are both இலங்கை ilaṅkai, iˈlaŋɡai. The name derives from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 श्री लंका śrī
Sri
Sri , also transliterated as Shri or Shree or shre is a word of Sanskrit origin, used in the Indian subcontinent as polite form of address equivalent to the English "Mr." in written and spoken language, or as a title of veneration for deities .-Etymology:Sri has the root meaning of radiance, or...

(venerable) and lankā
Lanka
Sri Lanka is the name given in Hindu mythology to the island fortress capital of the legendary king Ravana in the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata...

(island), the name of the island in the ancient Indian epics Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

 and the Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

. In 1972, the official name of the country was changed to "Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka". In 1978 it was changed to the "Democratic Socialist
Democratic socialism
Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

 Republic of Sri Lanka". The name Ceylon is still in use in the names of a number of organisations; in 2011, the Sri Lankan government announced a plan to rename all of those for which it is responsible.

Pre-historic Sri Lanka


The pre-history of Sri Lanka dates back over 125,000 years Before Present
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

 (BP) and possibly even as early as 500,000 BP. The era spans the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic
Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

 and early Iron age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

s. Among the Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 (Homo Erectus
Homo Erectus
Homo Erectus is a 2007 comedy film about cavemen that was written and directed by Adam Rifkin, and starring Giuseppe Andrews, Gary Busey, David Carradine, Ron Jeremy, Ali Larter, Hayes MacArthur, Adam Rifkin, and Talia Shire. It premiered at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival in January 2007...

) human settlements discovered in Sri Lanka, Pahiyangala
Fa Hien Cave
Fa Hien Cave is a cave in the district of Kalutara, Western Province, Sri Lanka, named after the Buddhist monk Faxian . The cave is important for the Late Pleistocene human skeletal remains discovered there in the 1960s and 1980s....

 (named after the Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

 traveler monk
Bhikkhu
A Bhikkhu or Bhikṣu is an ordained male Buddhist monastic. A female monastic is called a Bhikkhuni Nepali: ). The life of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is governed by a set of rules called the patimokkha within the vinaya's framework of monastic discipline...

 Fa-Hsien
Faxian
Faxian was a Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled to India, Sri Lanka and Kapilavastu in today's Nepal between 399 and 412 to acquire Buddhist scriptures...

), which dates back to 37,000 BP, Batadombalena
Batadombalena
Batadombalena is an archaeological site with evidence of habitation from 8,000 BCE, Balangoda Man, located 85 km from Colombo in Sri Lanka, a two hour drive from Colombo....

 (28,500 BP) and Belilena
Belilena
Belilena is a famous large cave in Sri Lanka. It is located 8km from the town of Kitulgala. It holds evidence of a lost generation of Sri Lankans some 12,000 years old; at this time the cave was occupied by Balangoda Man, described as Homo sapiens balangodensis by Paul E. P. Deraniyagala, who...

 (12,000 BP) are the most important. The remains of Balangoda Man, an anatomically
Anatomy
Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

 modern human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

, found inside these caves, suggests that they may have engaged in agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 and kept domestic dogs for driving game.
One of the first written references to the island is found in the Indian epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, which provides details of a kingdom named Lanka
Lanka
Sri Lanka is the name given in Hindu mythology to the island fortress capital of the legendary king Ravana in the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata...

that had been created by the divine sculptor Vishwakarma, for Kubera
Kubera
Kubera , also spelt Kuber, is the Lord of wealth and the god-king of the semi-divine Yakshas in Hindu mythology. He is regarded as the regent of the North , and a protector of the world His many epithets extol him as the overlord of numerous semi-divine species and the owner of the treasures of...

, the lord of wealth. It is said that in 2370 BC, Kubera was overthrown by his demon stepbrother Ravana
Ravana
' is the primary antagonist character of the Hindu legend, the Ramayana; who is the great king of Lanka. In the classic text, he is mainly depicted negatively, kidnapping Rama's wife Sita, to claim vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister...

, the powerful Emperor who built a mythical flying machine
Early flying machines
This article is an overview of early flying machines and aviation research, and an analysis of the debates over early flying machines. The goal is to examine the properties of flying machines, and to list the claims to allow a proper analysis of all the early flying machines...

 named Dandu Monara
Dandu Monara
Dandu Monara was a flying machine built by King Ravana . According to Hindu beliefs as told in the epic tale Ramayana, King Ravana used the "Dandu Monara" to abduct Queen Sita from Rama....

. The modern city of Wariyapola
Wariyapola
Wariyapola is a Small city in Sri Lanka.It is in the Kurunegala district,North Western province.But it still hasn't an Urban Council.Wariyapola is 94 m above the sea level.-External links:*...

 is described as Ravana's airport.

Ravana belonged to the tribe Raksha
Raksha
In Hindu mythology, a Rakshas is a kind of evil demon.-Ramayana:According to the Ramayana, the Raksha people were the mythical inhabitants of Sri Lanka who were said to have lived among the Naga, Yakkha, and Deva, and governed Sri Lanka in 2370 BCE...

, which lived alongside four Hela tribes named Yaksha
Yaksha
Yaksha is the name of a broad class of nature-spirits, usually benevolent, who are caretakers of the natural treasures hidden in the earth and tree roots. They appear in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist mythology. The feminine form of the word is ' or Yakshini .In Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist mythology,...

, Deva, Naga and Gandharva
Gandharva
Gandharva is a name used for distinct mythological beings in Hinduism and Buddhism; it is also a term for skilled singers in Indian classical music.-In Hinduism:...

. These early inhabitants of Sri Lanka were probably the ancestors of the Vedda people, an indigenous community living in modern-day Sri Lanka, which numbers approximately 2,500. Irish historian James Emerson Tennent
James Emerson Tennent
Sir James Emerson Tennent, 1st Baronet FRS , born James Emerson, was an Irish politician and traveller. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 5 June 1862....

 theorised Galle
Galle
Galle is a city situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, 119 km from Colombo. Galle is the capital city of Southern Province of Sri Lanka and it lies in Galle District....

, a southern city in Sri Lanka, was the ancient seaport of Tarshish
Tarshish
Tarshish תַּרְשִׁישׁ occurs in the Hebrew Bible with several uncertain meanings:*One of the sons of Javan .* In the Bible Solomon set up a trade with Tarshish and received ivory, apes, and peacocks from Tarshish which are all native to the jungles in India. India's state bird for example is the...

, from which King Solomon is said to have drawn ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

, peacocks
Peafowl
Peafowl are two Asiatic species of flying birds in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae, best known for the male's extravagant eye-spotted tail, which it displays as part of courtship. The male is called a peacock, the female a peahen, and the offspring peachicks. The adult female...

 and other valuables. Early inhabitats of the country spoke the Elu language, which is considered the early form of the modern Sinhala language.

Ancient Sri Lanka


According to the Mahāvamsa
Mahavamsa
The Mahavamsa is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the kings of Sri Lanka...

, a chronicle written in Pāli
Páli
- External links :* *...

 language, the ancient period of Sri Lanka begins in 543 BC, with the landing of Vijaya, a semi-legendary king who arrived in the country with 700 followers from the southwest coast of what is now the Rarh region of West Bengal, India. After consolidating the power, he established the Kingdom of Tambapanni
Kingdom of Tambapanni
The Kingdom of Tambapanni, , was the first Sinhala kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka. It existed between 543 BC, with the first Sinhalese king of modern day Sri Lanka to 505 BC...

, near modern day Mannar
Mannar, Sri Lanka
Mannar , formerly spelled Manar, is the capital of Mannar District, Sri Lanka. It is located on Mannar Island.Mannar is known for its baobab trees and for its fort, built by the Portuguese in 1560 and taken by the Dutch in 1658 and rebuilt; its ramparts and bastions are intact, though the interior...

. Vijaya is the first of the approximately 189 native monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

s of Sri Lanka, as described in various chronicles like Dipavamsa
Dipavamsa
The Dipavamsa, or "Deepavamsa", is the oldest historical record of Sri Lanka.It means Chronicle of the Island. The chronicle is believe to be compiled from Atthakatha and other sources around the 3-4th century. Together with Mahavamsa, it is the source of many accounts of ancient history of Sri...

, Mahāvamsa, Chulavamsa and Rājāvaliya. (see List of Sri Lankan monarchs) Sri Lankan dynasty spanned over a period of 2359 years, from 543 BC to 1815 AD, until it came under the rule of British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.
The Kingdom of Sri Lanka moved to Anuradhapura in 380 BC, during the reign of Pandukabhaya
Pandukabhaya of Sri Lanka
Pandukabhaya is, according to the Mahavansa, the 6th king of Sri Lanka since the arrival of the Prince Vijaya, he reigned from 437 BC to 367 BC. According to many historians and philosophers, he is the first truly Sri Lankan king since the Vijayan invasion, and also the king who ended the conflict...

. Since then, Anuradhapura served as the capital
Capital City
Capital City was a television show produced by Euston Films which focused on the lives of investment bankers in London living and working on the corporate trading floor for the fictional international bank Shane-Longman....

 of the country for nearly 1400 years. Pandukabhaya built the second irrigation scheme in ancient Sri Lanka
Irrigation works in ancient Sri Lanka
The irrigation works in ancient Sri Lanka, the earliest dating from about 300 BCE, in the reign of King Pandukabhaya and under continuous development for the next thousand years, were some of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world. In addition to constructing underground canals,...

, the Abhaya tank (Basawakkulama reservoir). Ancient Sri Lankans excelled in various constructions
Ancient Constructions of Sri Lanka
The Ancient Sinhalese excelled in the construction of tanks or reservoirs, dagobas and palaces, as evident from the ruins which displays a rich variety of Architectural forms.-Irrigation Works:...

 such as tanks
Irrigation tank
For etymology, see Storage tank#Etymology.In India, an irrigation tank or tank is an artificial reservoir of any size. . It can also have a natural or man-made spring included as part of a structure...

, dagobas
Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

 and palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

s. The Sri Lankan society underwent a major transformation during the reign of Devanampiya Tissa, with the arrival of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 from India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. In 250 BC, bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
A Bhikkhu or Bhikṣu is an ordained male Buddhist monastic. A female monastic is called a Bhikkhuni Nepali: ). The life of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is governed by a set of rules called the patimokkha within the vinaya's framework of monastic discipline...

 Mahinda
Mahinda
Mahinda was a Buddhist monk depicted in Buddhist sources as bringing Buddhism to Sri Lanka. He was the son of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.- Historical Sources :...

, who is believed to have been the son of the great Mauryan Emperor
Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

 Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

, arrived in Mihintale
Mihintale
Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka...

, carrying the message of Buddhism. Mahinda's mission won over the monarch, who embraced the faith and propagated it throughout the Sinhalese population. The succeeding kingdoms of Sri Lanka would maintain a large number of Buddhist schools
Schools of Buddhism
Buddhism is an ancient, polyvalent ideological system that originated in the Iron Age Indian subcontinent, referred to variously throughout history by one or more of a myriad of concepts – including, but not limited to any of the following: a Dharmic religion, a philosophy or quasi-philosophical...

 and monasteries, and support the propagation of Buddhism into other countries in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 as well. In 245 BC, bhikkhuni
Bhikkhuni
A bhikkhuni or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic. Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the vinaya...

 Sangamitta arrived in Sri Lanka with the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree, which is considered to be a sapling from the historical Bodhi tree
Bodhi tree
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo , was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree located in Bodh Gaya , under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi...

 under which Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 became enlightened. It is considered the oldest tree in the world, with a continuous historical record. (Bodhivamsa
Bodhi Vamsa
The Bodhi-Vamsa, or Mahabodhi-Vamsa, is a prose poem in elaborate Sanskritized Pali, composed by Upatissa in the reign of Mahinda IV of Sri Lanka about AD 980....

)

Sri Lanka experienced the first foreign invasion during the reign of Suratissa
Suratissa of Sri Lanka
Suratissa was an early monarch of Sri Lanka of the kingdom of Anuradhapura, based at the ancient capital of Anuradhapura from 247 BC to 237 BC. He was the younger son of Pandukabhaya and the brother of Mutasiva...

, who was defeated by two horse traders named Sena and Guttika from South India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

. The next invasion came in 205 BC by a Chola king named Elara. He ruled the country for 44 years. Dutugemunu, the eldest son of the southern regional sub-king, Kavan Tissa, defeated Elara in the Battle of Vijithapura
Battle of Vijithapura
The Battle of Vijithapura was a decisive and major battle in the campaign carried out by Sri Lankan king Dutthagamani against the invading South Indian king Elara. The battle is documented in detail in the ancient chronicles of the country...

. He built the second stupa
Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

 in ancient Sri Lanka, Ruwanwelisaya
Ruwanwelisaya
The Ruwanwelisaya is a stupa in Sri Lanka, considered a marvel for its architectural qualities and sacred to many Buddhists all over the world. It was built by King Dutugemunu, who became lord of all Sri Lanka after a war in which the Chola King Elara, was defeated...

 and the Lovamahapaya
Lovamahapaya
Lovamahapaya is a building situated between Ruvanveliseya and Sri Mahabodiya in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is also known as the Brazen Palace or Lohaprasadaya because the roof was covered with bronze tiles....

. During its two and half millenias of existence, kingdom of Sri Lanka was invaded at least 8 times by neighbouring South Asian dynastys such as Chola
Chola Dynasty
The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty which was one of the longest-ruling in some parts of southern India. The earliest datable references to this Tamil dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BC left by Asoka, of Maurya Empire; the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until...

, Pandya, Chera
Chera dynasty
Chera Dynasty in South India is one of the most ancient ruling dynasties in India. Together with the Cholas and the Pandyas, they formed the three principle warring Iron Age Tamil kingdoms in southern India...

 and Pallava. There had also been incursions by the kingdoms of Kalinga
Kalinga (India)
Kalinga was an early state in central-eastern India, which comprised most of the modern state of Orissa/Utkal , as well as the Andhra region of the bordering state of Andhra Pradesh. It was a rich and fertile land that extended from the river Damodar/Ganges to Godavari and from Bay of Bengal to...

 (modern Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

) and from Malay Peninsula
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

 as well. Kala Wewa
Kala Wewa
Kala Wewa is an ancient reservoir in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It was built by King Dhatusena around 400 AD. This reservoir has a circumference of and has a total area of at full capacity.-References:...

and the Avukana Buddha statue
Avukana Buddha Statue
The Avukana statue is a standing statue of the Buddha near Kekirawa in North Central Sri Lanka. The statue, which has a height of more than , has been carved out of a large granite rock face during the 5th century. It depicts a variation of the Abhaya mudra, and the closely worn robe is elaborately...

 were built during the reign of Dhatusena
Dhatusena of Sri Lanka
Dhatusena was a king of Sri Lanka who ruled from 455 to 473. He was the first king of the royal Moriyan dynasty of Sri Lanka. In some records, he is also identified as Dasenkeli. Dhatusena reunited the country under his rule after twenty six years, defeating the South Indian invaders that were...

.
Sri Lanka was the first Asian country to have a female ruler; Queen Anula who reigned from 47–42 BC. Sri Lankan monarchs have attained some remarkable construction achievements like Sigiriya
Sigiriya
Sigiriya is a large stone and ancient rock fortress and palace ruin in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures...

, the so-called "Fortress in the Sky". It was a constructed during the reign of Kashyapa I
Kashyapa I of Sri Lanka
Kashyapa I, also known as Kassapa I, was a king of Sri Lanka, who ruled the country from 473 to 495 CE. He was the second king of the royal Moriyan dynasty of Sri Lanka. Kashyapa is credited with the construction of the Sigiriya citadel and the surrounding city...

. Sigiriya is a rock fortress surrounded by an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. The 5th century palace is also renowned for fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

s on the rock the surface. It has been declared by the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 as the 8th Wonder of the world
Wonders of the World
Various lists of the Wonders of the World have been compiled from antiquity to the present day, to catalogue the world's most spectacular natural wonders and manmade structures....

. Among the other constructions, large reservoirs, important for conserving water in a climate that alternates rainy seasons with dry times, and elaborate aqueduct
Aqueduct
An aqueduct is a water supply or navigable channel constructed to convey water. In modern engineering, the term is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose....

s, some with a slope as finely calibrated as one inch to the mile are dominant. Biso Kotuwa, a peculiar construction inside a dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

, is a technological marvel based on precise mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, allowing water to flow outside the dam keeping the pressure to a minimum. Ancient Sri Lanka was the first country in the world to have established a dedicated hospital; in Mihintale
Mihintale
Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka...

 in the 4th century. It was also the leading exporter of cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

 in the ancient world, and has maintained close ties with European civilizations including Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. For example, King Bhatikabhaya (BC 22 - 7 AD) had sent an embassy to Rome and got down coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

 for a net to be cast over the Ruwanwelisaya
Ruwanwelisaya
The Ruwanwelisaya is a stupa in Sri Lanka, considered a marvel for its architectural qualities and sacred to many Buddhists all over the world. It was built by King Dutugemunu, who became lord of all Sri Lanka after a war in which the Chola King Elara, was defeated...

. Bhikkhuni Devasāra and ten other fully ordained bhikkhunis from Sri Lanka had went to China and established the bhikkhuni sāsana there in 429 AD.

Medieval Sri Lanka


The medieval period of Sri Lanka begins with the fall of Anuradhapura. In 993 AD, the invasion of Chola emperor
Chola Dynasty
The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty which was one of the longest-ruling in some parts of southern India. The earliest datable references to this Tamil dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BC left by Asoka, of Maurya Empire; the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until...

 Rajaraja I forced the then Sri Lankan ruler Mahinda V
Mahinda V of Sri Lanka
Mahinda V was a monarch of Sri Lanka. He was the last king of the Anuradhapura Kingdom. In 993, he fled to Ruhuna, the southern part of the country, when a Chola invasion led by Rajaraja Chola I captured Anuradhapura. He was later taken prisoner and taken to India, where he died as a prisoner in 1029...

 to flee to the southern part of the country. Taking advantage of this situation, Rajendra I son of Rajaraja I, launched a large invasion in 1017 AD. Mahinda V was captured and taken to India, and the Cholas sacked the city of Anuradhapura. Subsequently, they moved the capital to Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa
The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 AD to reunite the country once more under a local leader.-History:While Vijayabahu's victory and shifting of Kingdoms to the more strategic Polonnaruwa...

. This marked the end of the two great houses of dynasties of ancient Sri Lanka, Moriya and the Lambakanna. Following a seventeen year long campaign, Vijayabahu I successfully drove the Chola out of Sri Lanka in 1070, reuniting the country for the first time in over a century. Upon his request, ordained monks were sent from Burma to Sri Lanka to re-establish Buddhism which had almost disappeared from the country during the Chola reign. During the medieval period, Sri Lanka was divided to three sub-territories, namely Ruhunu
Kingdom of Ruhuna
The Kingdom of Ruhuna was a medieval era Sinhala kingdom located in the south of Sri Lanka. The capital was known as Magama, near between modern Ambalantota and Tissamaharama in the Southern Province...

, Pihiti and Maya
Maya Rata
The Maya Rata, also known as the Kingdom of Kelaniya, was a medieval era Sinhalese kingdom located in Western part of Sri Lanka. The capital was known as Kelaniya. The boundaries of the Kingdom of Maya Rata are Deduru Oya River from North, and Kalu River River from South.-See also:* History of Sri...

.
Sri Lanka's irrigation system
Irrigation works in ancient Sri Lanka
The irrigation works in ancient Sri Lanka, the earliest dating from about 300 BCE, in the reign of King Pandukabhaya and under continuous development for the next thousand years, were some of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world. In addition to constructing underground canals,...

 was extensively expanded during the reign of Parākramabāhu the Great (1153–1186 AD). This period is considered as a time when Sri Lanka was at the height of its power. He built 1470 reservoirs - highest number by any ruler in the history, repaired 165 dams, 3910 canals, 163 major reservoirs, and 2376 mini reservoirs. His famous construction is the Parakrama Samudra
Parakrama Samudra
Parakrama Samudra is a shallow reservoir, consisting of three separate reservoirs connected by narrow channels in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka....

, the largest irrigation project of medieval Sri Lanka. Parākramabāhu's reign is memorable for two major campaigns — in the south of India as part of a Pandyan war of succession, and a punitive strike against the kings of Ramanna (Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

) for various perceived insults to Sri Lanka.

After his demise, Sri Lanka gradually decayed in power. In 1215 AD, Kalinga Magha
Kalinga Magha
Magha , also known as Kalinga Magha and Magha the Tyrant, is a medieval king of Sri Lanka who is remembered primarily for his tyrannical and oppressive rule. Magha invaded the country from Kalinga in eastern India, usurping the throne from Parakrama Pandya, in 1215...

, a South Indian with uncertain origins, invaded and captured the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa with a 24,000 strong army from Kalinga. Unlike the previous invaders, he looted
Looting
Looting —also referred to as sacking, plundering, despoiling, despoliation, and pillaging—is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe, such as during war, natural disaster, or rioting...

, ransacked and destroyed everything in the ancient Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa Kingdoms beyond recovery. His priorities in ruling were to extract as much as possible from the land and overturn as many of the traditions of Rajarata
Rajarata
Rajarata is the name given to the region of Sri Lanka from which monarchs ruled the country from approximately the 5th Century BCE to the early 13th Century CE...

 as possible. His reign saw the massive migration of native Sinhalese people
Sinhalese people
The Sinhalese are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group,forming the majority of Sri Lanka,constituting 74% of the Sri Lankan population.They number approximately 15 million worldwide.The Sinhalese identity is based on language, heritage and religion. The Sinhalese speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language and the...

 to the south and west of Sri Lanka, and into the mountainous interior, in a bid to escape his power. Sri Lanka never really recovered from the impact of Kalinga Magha's invasion. King Vijayabâhu III, who led the resistance, brought the kingdom to Dambadeniya
Kingdom of Dambadeniya
-Founding:Four kings ruled from here. They were,# Vijayabahu III # Parakramabahu II # Vijayabahu IV # Bhuvanekabahu I The first king to choose Dambadeniya as his capital was Vijayabahu III...

. The north, in the meanwhile, eventually evolved into the Jaffna kingdom
Jaffna Kingdom
The Jaffna kingdom , also known as Kingdom of Aryacakravarti, of modern northern Sri Lanka was a historic monarchy that came into existence around the town of Jaffna on the Jaffna peninsula after the invasion of Magha, who is said to have been from Kalinga, in India...

. Jaffna kingdom never came under the rule of the kingdom of south except on one occasion; in 1450, following the conquest led by king Parâkramabâhu VI's adopted son, Prince Sapumal. He ruled the North from 1450 to 1467 AD. The next three centuries stating from 1215 were marked by kaleidoscopically shifting collection of kingdoms in south and central Sri Lanka, including Dambadeniya
Kingdom of Dambadeniya
-Founding:Four kings ruled from here. They were,# Vijayabahu III # Parakramabahu II # Vijayabahu IV # Bhuvanekabahu I The first king to choose Dambadeniya as his capital was Vijayabahu III...

, Yapahuwa, Gampola
Gampola
Gampola is a town located near Kandy in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. Gampola was made the capital city of the island by King Buwanekabahu IV, who ruled for four years in the mid fourteenth century. The last king of Gampola was King Buwanekabahu V. He ruled the island for 29 years. A separate...

, Raigama
Kingdom of Raigama
Raigama, according to some historians, was the seventh capital of ancient Lanka, after Anuradhapura , Polonnaruwa , Dambadeniya , Yapahuwa , Kurunegala and Gampola...

, Kotte
Kingdom of Kotte
The Kingdom of Kotte , centred on Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte was a kingdom that flourished in Sri Lanka during the 15th century. Its king was the last native sovereign to unify all of Sri Lanka under one rule. -Etymology:The term Kotte means fortress in Sinhalese...

, Sitawaka
Kingdom of Sitawaka
The Kingdom of Sitawaka was a kingdom located in south-central Sri Lanka. It emerged from the division of the kingdom of Kotte following the Spoiling of Vijayabahu in 1521, and over the course of the next seventy years came to dominate much of the island. Sitawaka also offered fierce resistance to...

 and finally, Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy was an important independent monarchy of Sri Lanka, located in the central and eastern portion of the island. It was founded in late 15th century and endured until the early 19th century...

.

Early modern Sri Lanka


The early modern period of Sri Lanka begins with the arrival of Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 soldier
Soldier
A soldier is a member of the land component of national armed forces; whereas a soldier hired for service in a foreign army would be termed a mercenary...

 and explorer
Exploration
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

 Lorenzo de Almeida, the son of Francisco de Almeida
Francisco de Almeida
Dom Francisco de Almeida , also known as "the Great Dom Francisco" , was a Portuguese nobleman, soldier and explorer. He distinguished himself as a counsellor to King John II of Portugal and later in the wars against the Moors and in the conquest of Granada in 1492...

 in 1505. The Portuguese founded a fort at the port city of Colombo
Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

 in 1517 and gradually extended their control over the coastal areas. In 1592 Vimaladharmasuriya I moved the kingdom to the inland city of Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy was an important independent monarchy of Sri Lanka, located in the central and eastern portion of the island. It was founded in late 15th century and endured until the early 19th century...

, a location more secure against an attack from western invaders. Intermittent warfare continued through the 16th century. In 1619, due to the attacks of Portuguese, independent existence of Jaffna kingdom
Jaffna Kingdom
The Jaffna kingdom , also known as Kingdom of Aryacakravarti, of modern northern Sri Lanka was a historic monarchy that came into existence around the town of Jaffna on the Jaffna peninsula after the invasion of Magha, who is said to have been from Kalinga, in India...

, came to an end.


During the reign of the Rajasinghe II, Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 explorers arrived in the island. In 1638, the king signed a treaty
Kandyan Treaty of 1638
The Kandyan Treaty of 1638 was a treaty between the Kingdom of Kandy, in Sri Lanka, and the Dutch Republic signed by King Rajasinghe II for the Kingdom of Kandy and Adam Westerwold and William Jacobsz Coster, a commander and vice commander of the Dutch Naval Forces respectively, for the Dutch East...

 with the Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 to get rid of Portuguese who ruled most of the coastal areas. The following Dutch–Portuguese War resulted in Dutch victory, with Colombo falling into Dutch hands by 1656. Dutch remained in the areas they captured, violating the treaty. An ethnic group named Burgher people
Burgher people
The Burghers are a Eurasian ethnic group, historically from Sri Lanka, consisting for the most part of male-line descendants of European colonists from the 16th to 20th centuries and local women, with some minorities of Swedish, Norwegian, French and Irish.Today the mother tongue of the Burghers...

 integrated into the Sri Lankan society as a result of Dutch rule
Dutch period in Ceylon
Ceylon was a governorate of the Dutch East India Company between 1658 and 1798 on the island currently known as Sri Lanka.In the early 17th century, Sri Lanka was partly ruled by the Portuguese and the Sinhala kingdom, who were constantly battling each other...

. The Kingdom of Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy was an important independent monarchy of Sri Lanka, located in the central and eastern portion of the island. It was founded in late 15th century and endured until the early 19th century...

 was the last independent monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 of Sri Lanka. In 1595, Vimaladharmasurya brought the sacred Tooth Relic - the traditional symbol of royal and religious authority amongst the Sinhalese - to Kandy, and built the Temple of the Tooth
Temple of the Tooth
Sri Dalada Maligawa or The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex which houses the Relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is...

. Even with intermittent warfare with Europeans, the kingdom was able to survive. A succession crisis emerged in Kandy, upon king Vira Narendrasinha
Vira Narendra Sinha of Sri Lanka
Vira Parakrama Narendra Sinha was the last Sinhalese King of Sri Lanka of the Kingdom of Kandy. The son of Vimaladharmasurya II, he came to the throne when he was seventeen years old and reigned for 32 years....

's death in 1739. He was married to a Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

-speaking Nayakkar princess from South India and was childless by them. Eventually, with the support of bhikku Weliwita Sarankara, the crown passed to the brother of one of Narendrasinha's princess, overlooking the right of "Unambuwe Bandara", Narendrasinha's own son by a Sinhalese concubine
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

. The new king was crowned Sri Vijaya Rajasinha later that year. Kings of Nayakkar dynasty, launched several attacks on Dutch controlled areas, which proved to be unsuccessful.

During the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, fearing that French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 control of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 might deliver Sri Lanka to the French, Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 occupied the coastal areas of the island (which they called
Geographical renaming
Geographical renaming is the changing of the name of a geographical feature or area. This can range from the uncontroversial change of a street name to a highly disputed change to the name of a country. Some names are changed locally but the new names are not recognised by other countries,...

 Ceylon) with little difficulty in 1796. Two years later, in 1798, Rajadhi Rajasinha, 3rd of the four Nayakkar kings of Sri Lanka died of a fever. Following the death, a nephew of Rajadhi Rajasinha, 18-year-old Konnasami was crowned. The new king, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha faced a British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 invasion in 1803, but was able to retaliate successfully. By then, the entire coastal area was under the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

, as a result of the Treaty of Amiens
Treaty of Amiens
The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between the French Republic and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 , by Joseph Bonaparte and the Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace"...

. But on 14 February 1815, Kandy was occupied by the British, in the second Kandyan War
Kandian Wars
The Kandyan Wars refers generally to the period of warfare between the British colonial forces and the Kingdom of Kandy, on the island of what is now present day Sri Lanka, between 1796 and 1818...

, finally ending Sri Lanka's independence. Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, the last native monarch of Sri Lanka was exiled to India. Kandyan convention
Kandyan Convention
The Kandyan Convention was an agreement in 1815 between the British and the Chiefs of the Kandyan Kingdom, in Sri Lanka for the deposition of rule King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. The king who was of Telugu ancestry faced powerful opposition from the Sinhalese chieftains who sought to reduce his power...

 formally ceded the entire country to the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. Attempts of Sri Lankan noblemen to undermine the British power in 1818 during the Uva Rebellion were thwarted by Governor Robert Brownrigg
Robert Brownrigg
General Sir Robert Brownrigg, 1st Baronet GCB was a British statesman and soldier.-Military career:Brownrigg was commissioned as an ensign in 1775...

.

Sri Lanka under the British rule


The beginning of the modern period of Sri Lanka is marked by the Colebrooke-Cameron reforms
Colebrooke-Cameron Commission
The Colebrooke-Cameron Commission was a Royal Commission of Eastern Inquiry sent by the British Colonial Office in 1829 to assess the administration of the island of Ceylon and to make recommendations for administrative, financial, economic, and judicial reform...

 of 1833. They introduced a utilitarian
Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "happiness", by whatever means necessary. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome, and that one can...

 and liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 political culture to the country based on the rule of law
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

 and amalgamated the Kandyan and maritime provinces as a single unit of government. An Executive Council
Executive Council of Ceylon
The Executive Council of Ceylon was the Executive Council created in Ceylon by the British colonial administration on the recommendations of the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission along with the Legislative Council of Ceylon on March 13, 1833....

 and a Legislative Council
Legislative Council of Ceylon
The Legislative Council of Ceylon was the legislative body of Ceylon established in 1833, along with the Executive Council of Ceylon, on the recommendations of the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission. It was the first form of representative government in the island...

 were established, later becoming the foundation of representative legislature in the country. By this time, experiments with coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

 plantation were largely successful. Soon it grew to become the primary commodity export of the country. The falling coffee prices as a result of the depression of 1847
Panic of 1847
The Panic of 1847 was started as a collapse of British financial markets associated with the end of the 1840s railway industry boom. As a means of stabilizing the British economy the ministry of Robert Peel passed the Bank Charter Act of 1844...

 stalled economic development and prompted the governor to introduce a series of taxes on firearms, dogs, shops, boats, etc., and reintroduce a form of rajakariya, requiring six days free labour on roads or payment of a cash equivalent. These harsh measures antagonized the locals, and another rebellion
Matale Rebellion
The Matale Rebellion, also known as the Rebellion of 1848 took place in Ceylon against the British colonial government under Governor Lord Torrington, 7th Viscount Torrington. It marked a transition from the classic feudal form of anti-colonial revolt to modern independence struggles...

 broke out in 1848. A devastating leaf disease, Hemileia vastatrix
Hemileia vastatrix
Hemileia vastatrix is a fungus of the order Uredinales that causes coffee rust, a disease that is devastating to coffee plantations...

, struck the coffee plantations in 1869, destroying the entire industry within 15 years. The British officials desperately searched for a substitute, and the promising replacement they found was tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

. Production of tea in Sri Lanka
Tea production in Sri Lanka
Tea production in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is of high importance to the Sri Lankan economy and the world market. The country is the world's fourth largest producer of tea and the industry is one of the country's main sources of foreign exchange and a significant source of income for laborers,...

 thrived within the decades to come.

By the end of the 19th century, a new educated social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

 which transcended the divisions of race and caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 was emerging as a result of British attempts to nurture a range of professionals for the Ceylon Civil Service
Ceylon Civil Service
The Ceylon Civil Service, popularly known by its acronym CCS, originated as the elite civil service of the Government of Ceylon under British colonial rule in 1833 and carried on after independence, until May 1, 1963 when it was abolished and the much larger Ceylon Administrative Service was...

 and for the legal, educational, and medical professions. The country's new leaders represented the various ethnic groups of the population in the Ceylon Legislative Council
Legislative Council of Ceylon
The Legislative Council of Ceylon was the legislative body of Ceylon established in 1833, along with the Executive Council of Ceylon, on the recommendations of the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission. It was the first form of representative government in the island...

 on a communal basis. In the meantime, attempts were underway for Buddhist and Hindu revivalism and to react against Christian missionary activities on the island. The first two decades in the 20th century are distinguished for the harmony that prevailed among Sinhalese and Tamil political leadership, which has not been the case ever since. In 1919, major Sinhalese and Tamil political organizations united to form the Ceylon National Congress, under the leadership of Ponnambalam Arunachalam
Ponnambalam Arunachalam
Sir Ponnambalam Arunachchalam, CCS was a Tamil political leader in Ceylon and a member of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council.-Early life:...

. It kept pressing the colonial masters for more constitutional reforms. But due to its failure to appeal to the masses and the governor's encouragement for "communal representation" by creating a "Colombo seat" that dangled between Sinhalese and Tamils, the Congress lost its momentum towards the mid 1920s. The Donoughmore reforms
Donoughmore Constitution
The Donoughmore Constitution, created by the Donoughmore Commission, served Sri Lanka from 1931 to 1947 when it was replaced by the Soulbury Constitution....

 of 1931 repudiated the communal representation and introduced universal adult franchise
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 (the franchise stood at 4% before the reforms). This step was strongly criticized by the Tamil political leadership, who realized that they would be reduced to a minority in the newly created State Council of Ceylon
State Council of Ceylon
The State Council of Ceylon was the unicameral legislature for Ceylon , established in 1931 by the Donoughmore Constitution. The State Council gave universal adult franchise to the people of the colony for the first time...

, which succeeded the legislative council. In 1937, Tamil leader G. G. Ponnambalam
G. G. Ponnambalam
Ganapathipillai Gangaser Ponnambalam , known as G.G. Ponnambalam, was a Sri Lankan Tamil politician in British Ceylon, and then after independence, in Ceylon. He founded the first Sri Lankan Tamil political party, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress. Ponnambalam stood for the principle of minority...

 demanded a 50-50 representation (50% for the Sinhalese and 50% for other ethnic groups) in the State Council. However, this demand was not met by the Soulbury reforms
Soulbury Commission
The Soulbury Commission, announced in 1944 was, like its predecessor, the Donoughmore Commission, a prime instrument of constitutional reform in Sri Lanka. The immediate basis for the appointment of a commission for constitutional reforms was the 1944 draft constitution of the Board of Ministers,...

 of 1944/45.

Post independence Sri Lanka


The Soulbury constitution ushered the Dominion status
Dominion of Ceylon
The Dominion of Ceylon, known today as Sri Lanka, was a dominion, in the British Empire between 1948 and 1972. In 1948, British Ceylon was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. In 1972, the Dominion of Ceylon became a republic within the Commonwealth, and its name was changed to Sri Lanka...

 for Ceylon, delivering it independence on 4 February 1948. The office of Prime Minister of Ceylon
Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is the functional head of the Cabinet of Sri Lanka. However, the President is both head of state and head of government in Sri Lanka...

 was created in advance of independence, on 14 October 1947, D. S. Senanayake
Don Stephen Senanayake
Don Stephen Senanayake was an independence activist who served as the first Prime Minister of Ceylon from 1947 to 1952.-Early life:...

 being the first prime minister. Prominent Tamil leaders like Ponnambalam and A. Mahadeva joined his cabinet. Although the country gained independence in 1948, the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 stationed at Trincomalee
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It has a population of approximately 100,000 . The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay,...

 remained until 1956. 1953 hartal
Hartal 1953
Hartal 1953 was a country-wide demonstration, commonly known as a hartal, held in Ceylon on August 12, 1953. It was organized to protest of the policies and actions of the incumbent United National Party government, and resulted in the resignation of the Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake...

, against the withdrawal of the rice ration, resulted in the resignation of the then prime minister, Dudley Senanayake
Dudley Senanayake
Dudley Shelton Senanayake was a Ceylonese politician, who became the second Prime Minister of Ceylon and went on to become prime minister on 2 more times during the 1950s and 1960s.-Early life:Dudley was born on 19 June, 1911 as the eldest son to Molly Dunuwila and Don Stephen Senanayake, who...

. With the election of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike to the prime ministership in 1956, Ceylon began moving towards better relations with the communist bloc. Bandaranaike's 3 year rule had a profound impact on the direction of the country. He emerged as the "defender of the besieged Sinhalese culture" and promised radical changes in the system. He introduced the controversial Sinhala Only Act
Sinhala Only Act
The Sinhala Only Act was a law passed in the Ceylonese parliament in 1956...

, recognising Sinhala as the sole official language of the government. Although it was partially reversed in 1958, the bill posed a grave concern for the Tamil community, which perceived their language and culture were threatened. The Federal Party
Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi
Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi is a Sri Lankan political party which represents the Sri Lankan Tamil ethnic minority in the country. It was originally formed in 1949 as breakaway faction of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress...

 (FP) launched satyagraha
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

 against the move, which prompted Bandaranaike to reach an agreement (Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact) with S. J. V. Chelvanayakam
S. J. V. Chelvanayakam
Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam was a Sri Lankan Tamil lawyer, politician and Member of Parliament. He was the political leader and father figure of the Sri Lankan Tamil community for more than two decades...

, leader of the FP, to resolve the looming ethnic conflict. However the pact was not carried out due to protests by opposition and the Buddhist clergy. The bill, together with various government colonisation schemes
Sri Lankan state sponsored colonisation schemes
Sri Lankan state sponsored colonisation schemes refers to government backed establishment of Sinhalese communities in regions traditionally considered to be Sri Lankan Tamil lands in the northern or eastern parts of the Sri Lanka...

, contributed much towards the political rancour between Sinhalese and Tamil political leaders. Bandaranaike was assassinated by an extremist Buddhist monk in 1959.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike was a Sri Lankan politician and the world's first female head of government...

, the widow of late S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, took office as prime minister in 1960, but faced an attempted coup d'état in 1962. During the second term as prime minister, her government instituted socialist economic polices, further strengthening ties with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and later China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, while promoting a policy of non-alignment. However in 1971, Ceylon experienced a Marxist insurrection, which was quickly suppressed. In 1972, with the adoption of a new constitution, the country became a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, repudating the Dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 status and changing its name to Sri Lanka. Prolonged minority grievance
Grievance
A grievance is a wrong or hardship suffered, which is the grounds of a complaint.-History and politics:A grievance may arise from injustice or tyranny, and be cause for rebellion or revolution....

s and the use of communal emotionalism as an election campaign weapon by both Sinhalese and Tamil leaders abetted a fledging Tamil militancy in the north, during 1970s. The policy of standardization
Policy of standardization
The policy of standardization was a policy implemented by the Sri Lankan government in 1973 to rectify disparities created in university enrollment in Sri Lanka under Colonial rule.-The reasoning for the law:...

 by Sirimavo government to rectify disparities created in university enrollment, which was in essence an affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

 to assist geographically disadvantaged students to gain tertiary education, in turn reducing the number of Tamil students within the Sri Lankan university student populace; acted as the immediate catalyst for the rise of militancy. Assassination of Jaffna
Jaffna
Jaffna is the capital city of the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna district located on a peninsula of the same name. Jaffna is approximately six miles away from Kandarodai which served as a famous emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical...

 Mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 Alfred Duraiyappah in 1975 marked an important turn of the events.

The Government of J. R. Jayawardene
Junius Richard Jayewardene
Junius Richard Jayewardene , famously abbreviated in Sri Lanka as JR, was the first executive President of Sri Lanka, serving from 1978 till 1989. He was a leader of the nationalist movement in Ceylon who served in a variety of cabinet positions in the decades following independence...

 swept to power in 1977, defeating the largely unpopular United Front
United Front (Sri Lanka)
The United Front was a political alliance in Sri Lanka, formed by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party , the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and the Communist Party of Sri Lanka in 1968...

 grovernment, towards its final years. Jayawardene introduced a new constitution
Constitution of Sri Lanka
The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has been the constitution of the island nation of Sri Lanka since its original promulgation by the National State Assembly on 7 September 1978. It is Sri Lanka's second republican constitution, and its third constitution since the...

, together with a powerful executive presidency
Executive president
An executive president is a president who exercises active executive power in a certain systems of government. Executive presidents are active in day-to-day governance of a nation, and are usually popularly elected....

 modelled after France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and a free market economy
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

. It made Sri Lanka the first South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

n country to liberalise
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 its economy. However from 1983, ethnic tensions blew into on-and-off insurgency (see Sri Lankan Civil War
Sri Lankan civil war
The Sri Lankan Civil War was a conflict fought on the island of Sri Lanka. Beginning on July 23, 1983, there was an on-and-off insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam , a separatist militant organization which fought to create an independent Tamil state named Tamil...

) against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist and nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil...

 (the LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers), a militant group emerged in early 1970s. Following the riots
Black July
Black July is the commonly used name for the anti-Tamil pogrom and attacks carried out by mobs in Sri Lanka which began on July 23, 1983. The riots occurred following a deadly ambush by a Tamil militant organization known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam which killed 13 Sri Lanka Army soldiers...

 in July 1983, more than 150,000 Tamil civillians fled the island, seeking asylum in other countries. Lapses in foreign policy resulted in neighbouring India strengthening the Tigers by providing arms and training. In 1987, the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord
Indo-Sri Lanka Accord
The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was an accord signed in Colombo on July 29, 1987, between Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene. The accord was expected to resolve the ongoing Sri Lankan civil war...

 was signed and Indian Peace Keeping Force
Indian Peace Keeping Force
Indian Peace Keeping Force was the Indian military contingent performing a peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990...

 (IPKF) was deployed in northern Sri Lanka to stabilize the region by neutralising the LTTE. The same year, the JVP
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
The Janathā Vimukthi Peramuṇa is a Marxist-Leninist, Communist political party in Sri Lanka. The party was involved in two armed uprisings against the ruling governments in 1971 and 1987-89...

 launched its second insurrection in Southern Sri Lanka. As their efforts did not become successful, IPKF was called back in 1990.

Sri Lanka was affected by the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami, which left at least 35,000 people dead. From 1985 to 2006, Sri Lankan government and Tamil insurgents held 4 rounds of peace-talks, none of them helping a peaceful resolution of the conflict. In 2009, under the Presidency
President of Sri Lanka
The President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is the elected head of state and the head of government. The President is a dominant political figure in Sri Lanka. The office was created in 1978 but has grown so powerful there have been calls to restrict or even eliminate its power...

 of Mahinda Rajapaksa
Mahinda Rajapaksa
Percy Mahendra "Mahinda" Rajapaksa ; ; born November 18, 1945) is the 6th and current President of Sri Lanka and Commander in Chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. A lawyer by profession, Rajapaksa was first elected to the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 1970, and served as prime minister from April 6,...

 the Sri Lanka Armed Forces
Sri Lanka Armed Forces
The Sri Lanka Armed Forces is the overall unified military of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka encompassing the Sri Lanka Army, the Sri Lanka Navy, the Sri Lanka Air Force which comes under preview of the Ministry of Defence...

 defeated the LTTE, and re-established control of the entire country under the Sri Lankan Government. The 26 year war caused upto 100,000 deaths. Following the LTTE's defeat, Tamil National Alliance
Tamil National Alliance
The Tamil National Alliance is a powerful minority Sri Lankan Tamil political alliance in Sri Lanka. It was formed as an amalgamation of moderate Tamil parties as well as number of former rebel groups...

, the largest political party in Sri Lanka dropped its demand for a separate state
Tamil Eelam
Tamil Eelam , is the name given by certain Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora to the independent state which they aspire to create in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Tamil Eelam has no official status or recognition by any other state or authority...

, in favour of a federal
Federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

 solution. The final stages of the war left some 294,000 people displaced. According to the Ministry of Resettlement, most of the displaced persons had been released or returned to their places of origin, leaving only 7,440 in the camps as of August 2011. Sri Lanka, emerging after a 26 year war, has become one of the fastest growing economies of the world.

Geography and climate



The island of Sri Lanka lies atop the Indian tectonic plate, a minor plate within the Indo-Australian Plate
Indo-Australian Plate
The Indo-Australian Plate is a major tectonic plate that includes the continent of Australia and surrounding ocean, and extends northwest to include the Indian subcontinent and adjacent waters...

. It is positioned in the Indian Ocean, to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

, between latitudes
5th parallel north
The 5th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 5 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean and South America....

 and 10°N
10th parallel north
The 10th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 10 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 79°
79th meridian east
The meridian 79° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 82°E
82nd meridian east
The meridian 82° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. Sri Lanka is separated from the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 by the Gulf of Mannar
Gulf of Mannar
The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay forming part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean. It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka. A chain of low islands and reefs known as Adam's Bridge, also called Ramsethu, which includes Mannar Island, separates the...

 and the Palk Strait
Palk Strait
Palk Strait is a strait between the Tamil Nadu state of India and the Mannar district of the Northern Province of the island nation of Sri Lanka. It connects the Bay of Bengal in the northeast with the Palk Bay and thence with the Gulf of Mannar in the southwest. The strait is wide. Several...

. According to the Hindu mythology
Hindu mythology
Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

, a land bridge
Land bridge
A land bridge, in biogeography, is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plants are able to cross and colonise new lands...

 existed between the Indian mainland and Sri Lanka. It now amounts to only a chain of limestone shoals remaining above sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

. It was reportedly passable on foot up to 1480 AD, until cyclone
Cyclone
In meteorology, a cyclone is an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth. This is usually characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth. Most large-scale...

s deepened the channel.

The island consists mostly of flat-to-rolling coastal plains, with mountains rising only in the south-central part. Amongst these is the highest point Pidurutalagala
Pidurutalagala
Pidurutalagala , or Mount Pedro in English, is an ultra prominent peak, and the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, at . Mount Pedro is located close to the city of Nuwara Eliya, and is easily visible from most areas of the Central Province....

, reaching 2524 metres (8,281 ft) above sea level. The climate of Sri Lanka can be described as tropical
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

 and warm. Its position endows the country with a warm climate moderated by ocean winds and considerable moisture. The mean temperature ranges from about 17 °C (62.6 °F) in the central highlands, where frost may occur for several days in the winter, to a maximum of approximately 33 °C (91.4 °F) in other low-altitude areas. The average yearly temperature ranges from 28 °C (82.4 °F) to nearly 31 °C (87.8 °F). Day and night temperatures may vary by 14 °C-change to 18 °C-change.
Rainfall pattern of the country is influenced by Monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 winds from the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. The "wet zone" and some of the windward slopes of the central highlands receive up to 2500 millimetres (98.4 in) of rain each month, but the leeward slopes in the east and northeast receive little rain. Most of the east, southeast, and northern parts of the country comprise the "dry zone", which receives between 1200 mm (47.2 in) and 1900 mm (74.8 in) of rain annually. The arid northwest and southeast coasts receive the least amount of rain at 800 mm (31.5 in) to 1200 mm (47.2 in) per year. Periodic squalls occur and sometimes tropical cyclone
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

s bring overcast skies and rains to the southwest, northeast, and eastern parts of the island. Humidity is typically higher in the southwest and mountainous areas and depends on the seasonal patterns of rainfall.

Longest of the 103 rivers in the country is Mahaweli River, covering a distance of 335 kilometres (208 mi). These waterways give rise to 51 natural waterfalls, having a height of 10 meters or more. The highest one is Bambarakanda Falls
Bambarakanda Falls
Bambarakanda Falls is the tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka. With a height of , it ranks as the 299th highest waterfall in the world. Situated in Kalupahana in the Badulla District, this waterfall is directly visible from the A4 Highway. The waterfall was formed by Kuda Oya, which is a branch of the...

, with a height of 263 metres (863 ft). Sri Lanka's coastline is 1,585 km long. It claims to an Exclusive Economic Zone
Exclusive Economic Zone
Under the law of the sea, an exclusive economic zone is a seazone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including production of energy from water and wind. It stretches from the seaward edge of the state's territorial sea out to 200 nautical...

 (EEZ) extending 200 nautical mile
Nautical mile
The nautical mile is a unit of length that is about one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian, but is approximately one minute of arc of longitude only at the equator...

s. This is approximately 6.7 times the country’s land area. The coastline and adjacent waters support highly productive marine ecosystems such as fringing
Fringing reef
A fringing reef is one of the three main types of coral reefs recognized by most coral reef scientists. It is distinguished from the other two main types in that it has either an entirely shallow backreef zone or none at all...

 coral reef
Coral reef
Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps...

s, shallow beds of coastal and estuarine
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 seagrass
Seagrass
Seagrasses are flowering plants from one of four plant families , all in the order Alismatales , which grow in marine, fully saline environments.-Ecology:...

es. Sri Lanka inherits 45 estuaries
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 and 40 lagoons too. Country's mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

 ecosystem which spans over 7,000 hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

s, played a vital role in buffering the force in the waves of 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The island is rich with minerals such as Ilmenite
Ilmenite
Ilmenite is a weakly magnetic titanium-iron oxide mineral which is iron-black or steel-gray. It is a crystalline iron titanium oxide . It crystallizes in the trigonal system, and it has the same crystal structure as corundum and hematite....

, Feldspar
Feldspar
Feldspars are a group of rock-forming tectosilicate minerals which make up as much as 60% of the Earth's crust....

, Graphite
Graphite
The mineral graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω , "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead . Unlike diamond , graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal...

, Silica, Kaolin, Mica
Mica
The mica group of sheet silicate minerals includes several closely related materials having highly perfect basal cleavage. All are monoclinic, with a tendency towards pseudohexagonal crystals, and are similar in chemical composition...

 and Thorium
Thorium
Thorium is a natural radioactive chemical element with the symbol Th and atomic number 90. It was discovered in 1828 and named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder....

. Existence of Petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 in the Gulf of Mannar
Gulf of Mannar
The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay forming part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean. It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka. A chain of low islands and reefs known as Adam's Bridge, also called Ramsethu, which includes Mannar Island, separates the...

 has also been confirmed and extraction attempts are underway.

Flora and fauna


Lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, Sri Lanka is one of the 25 biodiversity hotspot
Biodiversity hotspot
A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans.The concept of biodiversity hotspots was originated by Norman Myers in two articles in “The Environmentalist” , revised after thorough analysis by Myers and others in...

s in the world. Although the country is relatively small in size, it has the highest biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 per 10,000 square km in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. Remarkably high proportion of the species among its flora and fauna, 27% of the 3,210 flowering plant
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

s and 22% of the mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s (see List), are endemic. Sri Lanka has declared 24 wildlife reserves, which are home to a wide range of native species such as Asian elephant
Asian Elephant
The Asian or Asiatic elephant is the only living species of the genus Elephas and distributed in Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognized — Elephas maximus maximus from Sri Lanka, the Indian elephant or E. m. indicus from mainland Asia, and E. m....

s, leopard
Leopard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

s, sloth bear
Sloth Bear
The sloth bear , also known as the labiated bear, is a nocturnal insectivorous species of bear found wild within the Indian subcontinent. The sloth bear evolved from ancestral brown bears during the Pleistocene and shares features found in insect-eating mammals through convergent evolution...

s, the unique small loris, a variety of deer, the purple-faced langur
Purple-faced Langur
The purple-faced langur , or purple-faced leaf monkey, is a species of Old World monkey endemic to Sri Lanka.This is a long-tailed arboreal species, mainly brown with a dark facemask and paler lower face...

, the endangered wild boar, porcupine
Porcupine
Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend or camouflage them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, southern Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. Most porcupines are about long, with...

s and anteater
Anteater
Anteaters, also known as antbear, are the four mammal species of the suborder Vermilingua commonly known for eating ants and termites. Together with the sloths, they compose the order Pilosa...

s.
Varieties of flowering acacia
Acacia
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not...

s are well adapted to the arid conditions and flourish on the Jaffna Peninsula
Jaffna Peninsula
The Jaffna Peninsula is an area in Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is home to the capital city of the province, Jaffna and comprises much of the former land mass of the ancient Tamil kingdoms of the Nagas and the medieval Jaffna kingdom. The peninsula is mostly surrounded by water, connected to...

. Among the trees of the dry-land forests, are some valuable species such as satinwood
Chloroxylon
Chloroxylon swietenia is a tropical hardwood, the sole species in the genus Chloroxylon...

, ebony
Ebony
Ebony is a dense black wood, most commonly yielded by several species in the genus Diospyros, but ebony may also refer to other heavy, black woods from unrelated species. Ebony is dense enough to sink in water. Its fine texture, and very smooth finish when polished, make it valuable as an...

, ironwood
Mesua ferrea
Mesua ferrea is a species in the family Calophyllaceae. The plant is named after the heaviness of its timber and cultivated in tropical climates for its form, foliage, and fragrant flowers...

, mahogany
Mahogany
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany....

 and teak
Teak
Teak is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species Tectona grandis and its wood products. Tectona grandis is native to south and southeast Asia, mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Burma, but is naturalized and cultivated in many countries, including those in Africa and the...

. In the wet zone, the dominant vegetation of the lowlands is a tropical evergreen forest
Evergreen forest
An temperate evergreen forest is a forest consisting entirely or mainly of evergreen trees that retain green foliage all year round. Such forests exist in the tropics primarily as broadleaf evergreens, and in temperate and boreal latitudes primarily as coniferous evergreens.-Tropical evergreen...

, with tall trees, broad foliage, and a dense undergrowth of vines and creepers. Subtropical evergreen forests resembling those of temperate climates
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 flourish in the higher altitudes.

The Yala National Park
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Actually it consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public; and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names also, like Ruhuna National Park for the block 1 and Kumana National Park or...

 in the southeast protects herds of elephant, deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

, and peacocks, and the Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park is a park located on the island of Sri Lanka. The unique feature of this park is the existence of "Willus" - Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka...

, the largest national park in Sri Lanka, in the northwest preserves the habitats of many water birds, such as stork
Stork
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. They belong to the family Ciconiidae. They are the only family in the biological order Ciconiiformes, which was once much larger and held a number of families....

s, pelican
Pelican
A pelican, derived from the Greek word πελεκυς pelekys is a large water bird with a large throat pouch, belonging to the bird family Pelecanidae....

s, ibis
Ibis
The ibises are a group of long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae....

, and spoonbill
Spoonbill
Spoonbills are a group of large, long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae, which also includes the Ibises.All have large, flat, spatulate bills and feed by wading through shallow water, sweeping the partly opened bill from side to side...

s. The island has four biosphere reserve
Biosphere reserve
The Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO was established in 1971 to promote interdisciplinary approaches to management, research and education in ecosystem conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.-Development:...

s, Bundala
Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of Birds, the highlight being the Greater Flamingo, which migrate in large flocks. Bundala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and redesignated to a...

, Hurulu Forest Reserve
Hurulu Forest Reserve
Hurulu Forest Reserve of Sri Lanka was designated as a biosphere reserve in January 1977. The forest reserve is an important habitat of the Sri Lankan Elephant. Hurulu forest reserve represents Sri Lanka dry-zone dry evergreen forests. There are many other protected areas situated around Hurulu...

, the Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya, and Sinharaja
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO....

. Out of these, Sinharaja forest reserve is home to 26 endemic birds and 20 rainforest species, including the elusive Red-faced Malkoha
Red-faced Malkoha
The Red-faced Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus, is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes. This Malkoha species is endemic to Sri Lanka-Description:...

, Green-billed Coucal
Green-billed Coucal
The Green-billed Coucal, Centropus chlororhynchos, is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis, and the Hoatzin....

 and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie
Sri Lanka Blue Magpie
The Sri Lanka Blue Magpie or Ceylon Magpie is a member of the crow family living in the hill forests of Sri Lanka, where it is endemic....

. The untapped genetic potential of Sinharaja flora is enormous. Out of the 211 woody trees and lianas so far identified within the reserve, 139 (66%) are endemic. The Total vegetation density, including trees, shrubs, herbs and seedlings has been estimated to be around 240,000 individuals per hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

.

In addition, Sri Lanka is home to over 250 types of resident birds (see List). It has declared several bird sanctuaries including Kumana. During the Mahaweli Program of the 1970s and 1980s in northern Sri Lanka, the government set aside four areas of land totalling 1900 km² (733.6 sq mi) as national parks. However the country's forest cover, which was around 49% in 1920, had been fallen to approximately 24% by 2009.

Politics



Sri Lanka is the oldest democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

. The Donoughmore Constitution
Donoughmore Constitution
The Donoughmore Constitution, created by the Donoughmore Commission, served Sri Lanka from 1931 to 1947 when it was replaced by the Soulbury Constitution....

, drafted by the Donoughmore Commission
Donoughmore Commission
The Donoughmore Commission was responsible for the creation of the Donoughmore Constitution in effect between 1931–47 in Ceylon...

 in 1931 enabled general election
General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.The term...

s with adult universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 (universal adult franchise) in the country. It was the first time a non-caucasian
Caucasian race
The term Caucasian race has been used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia , Central Asia and South Asia...

 country within the empires of Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 was given one man, one vote and the power to control domestic affairs. The first election
Ceylonese State Council election, 1931
The first election to the State Council of Ceylon were held from 13 to 20 June 1931. This was the first election in a British colony which used universal adult franchise.-Background:...

 under the universal adult franchise, held in June 1931, for the Ceylon State Council
State Council of Ceylon
The State Council of Ceylon was the unicameral legislature for Ceylon , established in 1931 by the Donoughmore Constitution. The State Council gave universal adult franchise to the people of the colony for the first time...

. Sir
Sir
Sir is an honorific used as a title , or as a courtesy title to address a man without using his given or family name in many English speaking cultures...

 D. B. Jayatilaka
Don Baron Jayatilaka
Sir Don Baron Jayatilaka was a Sri Lankan educationalist, politician and diplomat....

 was elected as the Leader of the House. In 1944, the Soulbury Commission
Soulbury Commission
The Soulbury Commission, announced in 1944 was, like its predecessor, the Donoughmore Commission, a prime instrument of constitutional reform in Sri Lanka. The immediate basis for the appointment of a commission for constitutional reforms was the 1944 draft constitution of the Board of Ministers,...

 was appointed to draft a new constitution. During this time, struggle for Independence was fought on "constitutionalist" lines under the leadership of D. S. Senanayake
Don Stephen Senanayake
Don Stephen Senanayake was an independence activist who served as the first Prime Minister of Ceylon from 1947 to 1952.-Early life:...

. The draft constitution was enacted in the same year and Senanayake was appointed as the Prime Minister from the parliamentary election in 1947. The Soulbury constitution ushered in Dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 status and Independence to Sri Lanka in 1948.

Current politics in Sri Lanka is a contest between two rival coalitions led by the centre-left
Centre-left
Centre-left is a political term that describes individuals, political parties or organisations such as think tanks whose ideology lies between the centre and the left on the left-right spectrum...

ist and progressivist United People's Freedom Alliance
United People's Freedom Alliance
The United People's Freedom Alliance is a political alliance in Sri Lanka. The current leader of the United People's Freedom Alliance is Mahinda Rajapaksa and Susil Premajayantha is the general secretary of UPFA.The alliance was formed by:...

 (UPFA), an offspring of Sri Lanka Freedom Party
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party is one of the major political parties in Sri Lanka. It was founded by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1951 and, since then, has been one of the two largest parties in the Sri Lankan political arena. It first came to power in 1956 and since then has been the predominant party in...

 (SLFP), and the comparatively right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 and pro-capitalist United National Party
United National Party
The United National Party, often referred to as the UNP ), , is a political party in Sri Lanka. It currently is the main opposition party in Sri Lanka and is headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe...

 (UNP). Sri Lanka is essentially a multi-party democracy with many smaller Buddhist, socialist and Tamil nationalist political parties. As of July 2011, the number of registered political parties in the country is 67. Out of these, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party
Lanka Sama Samaja Party
The Lanka Sama Samaja Party is a Trotskyist political party in Sri Lanka....

 (LSSP), established in 1935 is the oldest. UNP, established by D. S. Senanayake in 1946, was considered to be the largest single political party until recently. It is the only political group which had a representation in all parliaments since the independence. SLFP was founded by S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, who was the Cabinet minister
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

 of Local Administration, before he left the UNP in July 1951. SLFP registered its first victory in 1956, defeating the ruling UNP in 1956 Parliamentary election. Following the parliamentary election in July 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike was a Sri Lankan politician and the world's first female head of government...

 became the prime minister and the world's first elected female head of state.

G. G. Ponnambalam
G. G. Ponnambalam
Ganapathipillai Gangaser Ponnambalam , known as G.G. Ponnambalam, was a Sri Lankan Tamil politician in British Ceylon, and then after independence, in Ceylon. He founded the first Sri Lankan Tamil political party, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress. Ponnambalam stood for the principle of minority...

, the Tamil nationalist
Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism
Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism is the conviction of the Sri Lankan Tamil people, a minority ethnic group in the South Asian island country of Sri Lanka , that they have the right to constitute an independent or autonomous political community. This idea has not always existed...

 counterpart of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, founded the All Ceylon Tamil Congress
All Ceylon Tamil Congress
All Ceylon Tamil Congress , is the oldest Tamil political party in Sri Lanka.-History:The ACTC was founded in 1944 by G.G. Ponnambalam. Ponnambalam asked for a 50-50 representation in parliament...

 (ACTC) in 1944. As an objection to Ponnambalam's cooperation with D. S. Senanayake, a dissident group led by S.J.V. Chelvanayakam broke away in 1949 and formed the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi
Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi
Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi is a Sri Lankan political party which represents the Sri Lankan Tamil ethnic minority in the country. It was originally formed in 1949 as breakaway faction of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress...

 (ITAK) aka Federal Party. It was the main Tamil political party in Sri Lanka for next 2 decades. Federal party advocated a more aggressive stance vis-à-vis the Sinhalese. With the constitutional reforms of 1972, these parties created a common front, the Tamil United Front (later Tamil United Liberation Front
Tamil United Liberation Front
The Tamil United Liberation Front is a political party in Sri Lanka which seeks independence for the Tamil-populated areas of Sri Lanka.-Formation:...

). Tamil National Alliance
Tamil National Alliance
The Tamil National Alliance is a powerful minority Sri Lankan Tamil political alliance in Sri Lanka. It was formed as an amalgamation of moderate Tamil parties as well as number of former rebel groups...

, formed in October 2001 is the current successor of these Tamil political parties which had undergone much turbulences as Tamil militants' rise to power in late 1970s. Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
The Janathā Vimukthi Peramuṇa is a Marxist-Leninist, Communist political party in Sri Lanka. The party was involved in two armed uprisings against the ruling governments in 1971 and 1987-89...

, a Marxist-Leninist political party, founded by Rohana Wijeweera
Rohana Wijeweera
Patabendi Don Nandasiri Wijeweera or Rohana Wijeweera was a Sri Lankan Marxist politician and the founding leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna...

 in 1965, serves as the 3rd force in the current political context. It endorses radical leftist policies, with respect to the traditionalist leftist politics of LSSP and Communist Party
Communist Party of Sri Lanka
The Communist Party of Sri Lanka is a communist political party in Sri Lanka. At the last legislative elections, on 2 April 2004, the party was part of the United People's Freedom Alliance that won 45.6% of the popular vote and 105 out of 225 seats....

. Founded in 1981, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is a political party in Sri Lanka. The party was formed at a meeting held at Kattankudy in 1981 by a small study group of local Eastern Province political leaders....

 is the largest Muslim political party in Sri Lanka.

Government


Sri Lanka is a democratic
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 and a unitary state
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

 which is governed by a semi-presidential system
Semi-presidential system
The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state...

, with a mixture of a presidential system
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 and a parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

. It constitutes a parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 governed under the Constitution of Sri Lanka
Constitution of Sri Lanka
The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has been the constitution of the island nation of Sri Lanka since its original promulgation by the National State Assembly on 7 September 1978. It is Sri Lanka's second republican constitution, and its third constitution since the...

. Most provisions of the Constitution of Sri Lanka can be amended by a two-thirds majority
Supermajority
A supermajority or a qualified majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level or type of support which exceeds a simple majority . In some jurisdictions, for example, parliamentary procedure requires that any action that may alter the rights of the minority has a supermajority...

 in Parliament of Sri Lanka
Parliament of Sri Lanka
The Parliament of Sri Lanka is the 225-member unicameral legislature of Sri Lanka. The members of Parliament are elected by proportional representation for six-year terms, with universal suffrage. Parliament reserves the power to make all laws...

. However, the amendment of certain basic features such as the clauses on language, religion, and reference to Sri Lanka as a unitary state require both a two-thirds majority and approval at a nation-wide referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

.
The Sri Lankan government has 3 branches:
  • Executive
    Executive (government)
    Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

    : The President of Sri Lanka
    President of Sri Lanka
    The President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is the elected head of state and the head of government. The President is a dominant political figure in Sri Lanka. The office was created in 1978 but has grown so powerful there have been calls to restrict or even eliminate its power...

     is the head of state
    Head of State
    A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

    , the commander in chief of the armed forces, as well as head of government
    Head of government
    Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

    , and is popularly elected for a six-year term. In the exercise of duties, the President is responsible to the parliament. The President appoints and heads a cabinet
    Cabinet (government)
    A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

     of ministers
    Minister (government)
    A minister is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. Senior ministers are members of the cabinet....

     composed of elected members of parliament
    Member of Parliament
    A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

    . President is immune from legal proceedings while in office in respect of any acts done or omitted to be done by him either in his official or private capacity. With the 18th amendment to the constitution in 2010, the President has no term limit, which previously stood at 2.

  • Legislative
    Legislature
    A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

    : The Parliament of Sri Lanka
    Parliament of Sri Lanka
    The Parliament of Sri Lanka is the 225-member unicameral legislature of Sri Lanka. The members of Parliament are elected by proportional representation for six-year terms, with universal suffrage. Parliament reserves the power to make all laws...

    , is a unicameral 225-member legislature
    Legislature
    A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

     with 196 members elected in multi-seat constituencies and 29 by proportional representation
    Proportional representation
    Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

    . Members are elected by universal (adult) suffrage based on a modified proportional representation
    Proportional representation
    Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

     system by district to a six-year term. The president may summon, suspend, or end a legislative session and dissolve Parliament any time after it has served for one year. The parliament reserves the power to make all laws. President's deputy, the Prime Minister
    Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
    The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is the functional head of the Cabinet of Sri Lanka. However, the President is both head of state and head of government in Sri Lanka...

    , leads the ruling party
    Ruling party
    The ruling party or governing party in a parliamentary system is the political party or coalition of the majority in parliament. Within a parliamentary system, the majority in the legislature also controls the executive branch of government, thus leaving no possibility of dueling parties...

     in parliament and shares many executive responsibilities, mainly in domestic affairs.

  • Judicial
    Judiciary
    The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

    : Sri Lanka's judiciary consists of a Supreme Court
    Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
    The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka is the highest court of the nation of Sri Lanka. The Supreme Court is the highest and final judicial instance of record and is empowered to exercise its powers, subject to the provisions of the Constitution. The Court has ultimate appellate jurisdiction in...

     - the highest and final superior court of record, a Court of Appeal, High Courts and a number of subordinate courts. Its highly complex legal system reflects diverse cultural influences. The Criminal law
    Criminal law
    Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

     is almost entirely based on British law
    English law
    English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

    . Basic Civil law
    Civil law (legal system)
    Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

     relates to the Roman law
    Roman law
    Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

     and Dutch law
    Law of the Netherlands
    The Netherlands is a civil law country. Its laws are written and the application of customary law is exceptional. The role of case law is small in theory, although in practice it is impossible to understand the law in many fields without also taking into account the relevant case law...

    . Laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, and inheritance are communal
    Common law
    Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

    . Due to ancient customary practices and/or religion, the Sinhala customary law (Kandyan law), the Thesavalamai
    Thesavalamai
    Thesavalamai is the traditional law of the Sri Lankan Tamil inhabitants Jaffna peninsula, codified by the Dutch during their colonial rule in 1707. The Thesawalamai is a collection of the Customs of the Malabar Inhabitants of the Province of Jaffna and given full force by the Regulation of 1806...

     and the Sharia law
    Sharia
    Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

     too are followed on special cases. The President appoints judges to the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, and the High Courts. A judicial service commission, composed of the Chief Justice
    Chief Justice of Sri Lanka
    The Chief Justice of Sri Lanka is the highest post in the judicial system of Sri Lanka and heads the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. The Chief Justice is appointed by the President, chosen from candidates recommended by the Constitutional Council...

     and two Supreme Court judges, appoints, transfers, and dismisses lower court judges.

Administrative divisions


For administrative purposes, Sri Lanka is divided into 9 provinces
Provinces of Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, provinces are the first level administrative division. They were first established by the British rulers of Ceylon in 1833. Over the next century most of the administrative functions were transferred to the districts, the second level administrative division. By the middle of the...

 and 25 districts
Districts of Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, districts are the second-level administrative divisions, and are included in a province. There are 25 districts organized into 9 provinces. Each district is administered under a District Secretary, who is appointed by the central government...

.

Provinces

Provinces have existed in Sri Lanka since the 19th century. But they didn't have any legal status until 1987 when the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils following several decades of increasing demand for a decentralisation
Devolution
Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. Devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government...

 of the Government of Sri Lanka. The provincial council is an autonomous body and is not under any Ministry. It undertakes activities which had earlier been undertaken by the Central Government Ministries, Departments, Corporations and Statutory Authorities. But importantly, land and police authorities are not given to provincial councils in practice. Between 1988 and 2006, the Northern and Eastern provinces were temporarily merged to form the North-East Province. Prior to 1987, all administrative tasks were handled by a district-based
Districts of Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, districts are the second-level administrative divisions, and are included in a province. There are 25 districts organized into 9 provinces. Each district is administered under a District Secretary, who is appointed by the central government...

 civil service which had been in place since colonial times
British Ceylon
British Ceylon refers to British rule prior to 1948 of the island territory now known as Sri Lanka.-From the Dutch to the British:Before the beginning of the Dutch governance, the island of Ceylon was divided between the Portuguese Empire and the Kingdom of Kandy, who were in the midst of a war for...

. Now each province is administered by a directly elected provincial council:
Administrative Divisions of Sri Lanka
Province
Provinces of Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, provinces are the first level administrative division. They were first established by the British rulers of Ceylon in 1833. Over the next century most of the administrative functions were transferred to the districts, the second level administrative division. By the middle of the...

Capital Area
Area
Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...

 (km²)
Area
Area
Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...


(sq mi)
Population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

Central Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

5,674 5674 square kilometres (2,190.7 sq mi) 2,423,966
Eastern
Eastern Province, Sri Lanka
The Eastern Province is one of the 9 provinces of Sri Lanka. The provinces have existed since the 19th century but they didn't have any legal status until 1987 when the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils. Between 1988 and 2006 the province was...

Trincomalee
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It has a population of approximately 100,000 . The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay,...

9,996 9996 square kilometres (3,859.5 sq mi) 1,460,939
North Central
North Central Province, Sri Lanka
North Central Province is a province of Sri Lanka. Its capital is Anuradhapura. The province is not densely populated with a weak economy, as the land tends to be dry tropical woodlands.-History:...

Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura, , is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic...

10,714 10714 square kilometres (4,136.7 sq mi) 1,104,664
Northern
Northern Province, Sri Lanka
The Northern Province is one of the 9 provinces of Sri Lanka. The provinces have existed since the 19th century but did not have any legal status until 1987 when the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils. Between 1988 and 2006 the province was...

Jaffna
Jaffna
Jaffna is the capital city of the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna district located on a peninsula of the same name. Jaffna is approximately six miles away from Kandarodai which served as a famous emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical...

8,884 8884 square kilometres (3,430.1 sq mi) 1,311,776
North Western
North Western Province, Sri Lanka
North Western Province is a province of Sri Lanka. The districts of Kurunegala and Puttalam formulate Wayamba. Its capital is Kurunegala, which has a population of 28,571. The province is known mainly for its numerous coconut plantations. Other main towns in this province are Chilaw and Puttalam...

Kurunegala
Kurunegala
Kurunegala , is the capital of the North Western Province, Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka and the Kurunegala District. Kurunegala was also an ancient royal capital for 50 years, from the end of the 13th century to the start of the 13th century. The town itself is a busy commercial and a transport hub...

7,812 7812 square kilometres (3,016.2 sq mi) 2,169,892
Sabaragamuwa
Sabaragamuwa Province
Sabaragamuwa, is a province of Sri Lanka, and contains two main cities: Ratnapura and Kegalle. Sabaragamuwa University is in Belihuloya. It is named after its former indigenous inhabitants, namely the Sabara, an indic term for hunter gatherer tribes, a term seldom used in ancient Sri...

Ratnapura
Ratnapura
- Floods :The town of Ratnapura is situated in the flooding plain of the river Kalu. The town experiences regular floods usually in the month of May. There is no large dam across the Kalu, so this leaves the city at the mercy of nature's forces every year. Several proposals have been made to reduce...

4,902 4902 square kilometres (1,892.7 sq mi) 1,801,331
Southern
Southern Province, Sri Lanka
The Southern Province of Sri Lanka is a small geographic area consisting of the districts of Galle, Matara and Hambantota. The region is economically backward compared to the Western province, where the capital Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte is situated...

Galle
Galle
Galle is a city situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, 119 km from Colombo. Galle is the capital city of Southern Province of Sri Lanka and it lies in Galle District....

5,559 5559 square kilometres (2,146.3 sq mi) 2,278,271
Uva
Uva Province
Uva is Sri Lanka's second least populated province, with 1,187,335 people, created in 1896. It consists of two districts: Badulla බදුල්ල பதுளை and Moneragala මොනරාගල மொனராகல. The provincial capital is Badulla. Uva is bordered by Eastern, Southern and Central provinces...

Badulla
Badulla
Badulla , is the capital of Uva Province, Sri Lanka. Badulla is located 60 km southeast of Kandy, almost encircled by the Badulu Oya River, about 680 metres above sea level and is surrounded by picturesque hills and mountains, most of which have tea plantations.-Geography:It is located on the...

8,488 8488 square kilometres (3,277.2 sq mi) 1,177,358
Western
Western Province, Sri Lanka
The Western Province is the most densely populated province of Sri Lanka. It is home to the legislative capital Sri Jayawardenapura as well to Colombo, the nation's administrative and business center.-Districts:Basnahira is divided into 3 districts:...

Colombo
Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

3,709 3709 square kilometres (1,432.1 sq mi) 5,361,200


Districts and local authorities

Sri Lanka is also divided into 25 districts
Districts of Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, districts are the second-level administrative divisions, and are included in a province. There are 25 districts organized into 9 provinces. Each district is administered under a District Secretary, who is appointed by the central government...

 . Each district is administered under a District Secretariat
Government Agent (Sri Lanka)
A Government Agent or a District Secretary is a Sri Lankan civil servant of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service appointed by the central government to govern a certain district of the country. The GA is the administrative head of public services in the District. As Sri Lanka has 25 districts,...

. The districts are further subdivided into 256 divisional secretariats
Divisional Secretariats of Sri Lanka
The districts of the Sri Lanka are divided into administrative sub-units known as divisional secretariats. These were originally based on the feudal counties, the korales and ratas. They were formerly known as 'D.R.O. Divisions' after the 'Divisional Revenue Officer'. Later the D.R.O.s became...

, and these in turn, to approximately 14,008 Grama Niladhari divisions. The Districts are known in Sinhala as Disa and in Tamil as Māwaddam. Originally a Disa (usually rendered into English as Dissavony) was a duchy
Duchy
A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess.Some duchies were sovereign in areas that would become unified realms only during the Modern era . In contrast, others were subordinate districts of those kingdoms that unified either partially or completely during the Medieval era...

, notably Matale and Uva. The Government Agent
Government Agent (Sri Lanka)
A Government Agent or a District Secretary is a Sri Lankan civil servant of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service appointed by the central government to govern a certain district of the country. The GA is the administrative head of public services in the District. As Sri Lanka has 25 districts,...

, who is known as District Secretary, administers a district.

There are 3 other types of local authorities: Municipal Councils (18), Urban councils (13) and Pradeshiya Sabha (aka Pradesha Sabhai, 256). Local authorities were originally based on the feudal counties named korale and rata, and were formerly known as 'D.R.O. divisions' after the 'Divisional Revenue Officer'. Later the D.R.O.s became 'Assistant Government Agents' and the divisions were known as 'A.G.A. divisions'. These Divisional Secretariats
Divisional Secretariats of Sri Lanka
The districts of the Sri Lanka are divided into administrative sub-units known as divisional secretariats. These were originally based on the feudal counties, the korales and ratas. They were formerly known as 'D.R.O. Divisions' after the 'Divisional Revenue Officer'. Later the D.R.O.s became...

 are currently administered by a 'Divisional Secretary'.

Foreign relations and military


Since its independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has maintained and expanded relationships with most of the countries in the world. Analysis of its foreign relationships helps to recognise two most important traits. One is its commitment in principle to nonalignment, being a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 (NAM). Second one is the attempt to preserve satisfactory relations with India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 without sacrificing its independence. It became a member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in 1955. Sri Lanka also is a member of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, the SAARC
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is an organisation of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 by Ziaur Rahman and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasising collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are Bangladesh,...

, World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia...

 and the Colombo Plan
Colombo Plan
The Colombo Plan is a regional organization that embodies the concept of collective inter-governmental effort to strengthen economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific Region...

. Sri Lanka continues its active participation in the NAM, while also stressing the importance it places on regionalism by playing a strong role in SAARC.

One of the two parties that have governed Sri Lanka since its independence, UNP
United National Party
The United National Party, often referred to as the UNP ), , is a political party in Sri Lanka. It currently is the main opposition party in Sri Lanka and is headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe...

, is traditionally biased towards the West, with respect to its left-leaning counterpart, SLFP
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party is one of the major political parties in Sri Lanka. It was founded by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1951 and, since then, has been one of the two largest parties in the Sri Lankan political arena. It first came to power in 1956 and since then has been the predominant party in...

. Sri Lankan Finance Minister J. R. Jayewardene, together with the then Australian Foreign Minister Sir Percy Spencer, proposed the Colombo Plan
Colombo Plan
The Colombo Plan is a regional organization that embodies the concept of collective inter-governmental effort to strengthen economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific Region...

 at Commonwealth Foreign Minister’s Conference held in Colombo in 1950. In a remarkable move, Sri Lanka spoke in defence for a free Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, while many coutries were reluctant to allow a free Japan, at the San Francisco Peace Conference
Treaty of San Francisco
The Treaty of Peace with Japan , between Japan and part of the Allied Powers, was officially signed by 48 nations on September 8, 1951, at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, California...

 in 1951, and refused to accept the payment of reparations for that damage it had done to the country during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, that would harm Japan's economy. Sri Lanka-China relations started as soon as the PRC
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 was formed in 1949. Two countries signed an important Rice-Rubber Pact in 1952. Sri Lanka played a vital role in Asian–African Conference in 1955, which was an important step toward the crystallization of the NAM.
The Bandaranaike government of 1956 significantly digressed from the pro-western policies of UNP government. Sri Lanka immediately recognised the new Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 under Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 in 1959. Shortly after, Cuba's legendary revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

 paid a visit to Sri Lanka. The Sirima
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike was a Sri Lankan politician and the world's first female head of government...

-Shastri
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Lal Bahadur Srivastava Shastri was the second Prime Minister of the Republic of India and a significant figure in the Indian independence movement.-Early life:...

 Pact
of 1964 and Sirima-Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

 Pact
of 1974 were signed between Sri Lankan and Indian leaders in an attempt to solve the long standing dispute
Ceylon Citizenship Act
The Ceylon Citizenship Act No. 18 of 1948 was a controversial law passed by the Ceylon Parliament which denied citizenship to 11% of the population.-Background:...

 over the status of plantation workers of Indian origin. In 1974, Kachchatheevu
Kachchatheevu
Kachchatheevu or Katchatheevu or Kachativu is an uninhabited island belonging to Sri Lanka. This island is given to Sri Lanka by India in 1974.It has a Catholic shrine and has been declared as a sacred area by the government of Sri Lanka....

, a small island in Palk Strait
Palk Strait
Palk Strait is a strait between the Tamil Nadu state of India and the Mannar district of the Northern Province of the island nation of Sri Lanka. It connects the Bay of Bengal in the northeast with the Palk Bay and thence with the Gulf of Mannar in the southwest. The strait is wide. Several...

 was formally ceded to Sri Lanka. By this time, Sri Lanka was strongly involved in the NAM and Colombo
Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

 held the fifth NAM summit of 1976. The relationship between Sri Lanka and India became tensed under the government of J. R. Jayawardene
Junius Richard Jayewardene
Junius Richard Jayewardene , famously abbreviated in Sri Lanka as JR, was the first executive President of Sri Lanka, serving from 1978 till 1989. He was a leader of the nationalist movement in Ceylon who served in a variety of cabinet positions in the decades following independence...

. As a result, India intervened
Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan Civil War
The Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan Civil War was the deployment of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka intended to perform a peacekeeping role...

 in Sri Lankan Civil War and subsequently deployed the Indian Peace Keeping Force
Indian Peace Keeping Force
Indian Peace Keeping Force was the Indian military contingent performing a peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990...

 in 1987. In the present, Sri Lanka enjoys extensive relations with China, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

.
The Sri Lanka Armed Forces
Sri Lanka Armed Forces
The Sri Lanka Armed Forces is the overall unified military of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka encompassing the Sri Lanka Army, the Sri Lanka Navy, the Sri Lanka Air Force which comes under preview of the Ministry of Defence...

, comprising the Sri Lanka Army, the Sri Lanka Navy and the Sri Lanka Air Force, comes under the purview of the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (Sri Lanka)
The Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order is the Sri Lankan government ministry responsible for implementation of government defence policy and the headquarters of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces....

 (MoD). The total strength of the three services is around 259,000 personnel, with nearly 36,000 reserves. Sri Lanka has not enforced military conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

. In support of the armed forces, there are three paramilitary units functioning: the Special Task Force
Special Task Force
The Special Task Force is an elite special forces unit of the Sri Lanka Police Service specializing in Counter-Terrorist and Counter-Insurgency operations. It was formed in 1983 not as a military force but rather as a highly specialised police unit...

, the Civil Security Force and the Sri Lanka Coast Guard
Sri Lanka Coast Guard
The Sri Lanka Coast Guard, officially the Department of Coast Guard, is a Sri Lankan non-ministerial government department tasked with Coast guard duties within the territorial waters of Sri Lanka. It comes under the purview of the Ministry of Defence and be staffed by civilian personal...



Since independence from Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in 1948, the primary focus of the armed forces has been on internal security, due to three major insurgencies, two by Marxist militants of the JVP
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
The Janathā Vimukthi Peramuṇa is a Marxist-Leninist, Communist political party in Sri Lanka. The party was involved in two armed uprisings against the ruling governments in 1971 and 1987-89...

 and a 30 year long conflict with the LTTE
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist and nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil...

 which has been proscribed
Proscription
Proscription is a term used for the public identification and official condemnation of enemies of the state. It is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a "decree of condemnation to death or banishment" and is a heavily politically charged word, frequently used to refer to state-approved...

 as a terrorist organisation by 32 countries. Due to these conflicts, the armed forces had expanded to its current size and are in a continuous mobilized state for the last 30 years. Marking a rare occurrence in modern military history, Sri Lankan military was able to bring a decisive end to the Sri Lankan Civil War
Sri Lankan civil war
The Sri Lankan Civil War was a conflict fought on the island of Sri Lanka. Beginning on July 23, 1983, there was an on-and-off insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam , a separatist militant organization which fought to create an independent Tamil state named Tamil...

 in May 2009. Sri Lanka claimed itself the first country in the modern world to eradicate terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 on its own soil. Sri Lankan Armed Forces have engaged in United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 peacekeeping
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 operations since the early 1960s. It has contributed with forces as permanent contingents deployed in several UN peacekeeping missions in Chad
United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad
The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad was a United Nations peacekeeping mission established by the United Nations Security Council on September 25, 2007 to provide a multidimensional presence of up to 350 police and military personnel to eastern Chad and north-eastern...

, Lebanon
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, was created by the United Nations, with the adoption of Security Council Resolution 425 and 426 on 19 March 1978, to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon which Israel had invaded five days prior, restore international peace and security,...

 and Haiti
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
The United Nations Stabilisation Mission In Haiti , also known as MINUSTAH, an acronym of the French translation, is a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti that has been in operation since 2004. The mission's military component is led by the Brazilian Army and the force commander is...

.

Economy


According to the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, Sri Lanka claims to a US$50 billion economy as of 2010. It has a GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 of US$106.5 billion in terms of purchasing power parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

. Sri Lanka is next only to Maldives
Maldives
The Maldives , , officially Republic of Maldives , also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented north-south off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and...

 in the South Asian region in terms of per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

, with a nominal value of US$2,435 and PPP value of US$5,220. It recorded a GDP growth of 8.2% in 2010 and it is estimated that GDP will grow by 9.5% in 2011, becoming one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Colombo Stock Exchange
Colombo Stock Exchange
The Colombo Stock Exchange is the main stock exchange in Sri Lanka. It is one of the most modern exchanges in South Asia, providing a fully automated trading platform...

 was the best performing stock exchange in Asia in 2009 and 2010, by almost tripling in value during that time.


In the 19th and 20th centuries, Sri Lanka became a plantation economy
Plantation economy
A plantation economy is an economy which is based on agricultural mass production, usually of a few staple products grown on large farms called plantations. Plantation economies rely on the export of cash crops as a source of income...

, famous for its production and export of cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

, rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

 and Ceylon tea, which remains a trademark national export. The development of modern ports under British rule raised the strategic importance of the island as a centre of trade. From 1948 to 1977 socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 strongly influenced the government's economic policies. Colonial plantations were dismantled, industries were nationalised and a welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

 established. In 1977 the Free market economy
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 was introduced to the country, incorporating privatisation, deregulation
Deregulation
Deregulation is the removal or simplification of government rules and regulations that constrain the operation of market forces.Deregulation is the removal or simplification of government rules and regulations that constrain the operation of market forces.Deregulation is the removal or...

 and the promotion of private enterprise.

While the production and export of tea, rubber, coffee, sugar and other agricultural commodities remains important, the nation has moved steadily towards an industrialised economy with the development of food processing
Food processing
Food processing is the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food or to transform food into other forms for consumption by humans or animals either in the home or by the food processing industry...

, textiles, telecommunications and finance
Finance
"Finance" is often defined simply as the management of money or “funds” management Modern finance, however, is a family of business activity that includes the origination, marketing, and management of cash and money surrogates through a variety of capital accounts, instruments, and markets created...

. Main economic sectors of the country are tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

, tea export
Tea production in Sri Lanka
Tea production in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is of high importance to the Sri Lankan economy and the world market. The country is the world's fourth largest producer of tea and the industry is one of the country's main sources of foreign exchange and a significant source of income for laborers,...

, clothing
Clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

, rice production and other agricultural products. In addition to these economic sectors, overseas employment contributes highly in foreign exchange, most of them from the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. As of 2010, service sector makes up 60% of GDP, industial sector 28% and agriculture sector 12%. Private sector accounts for 85% of the economy. India is the largest trading partner of Sri Lanka. Economic disparies exist between the provinces, with Western province
Western Province, Sri Lanka
The Western Province is the most densely populated province of Sri Lanka. It is home to the legislative capital Sri Jayawardenapura as well to Colombo, the nation's administrative and business center.-Districts:Basnahira is divided into 3 districts:...

 contributing to 45.1% of the GDP, Southern province
Southern Province, Sri Lanka
The Southern Province of Sri Lanka is a small geographic area consisting of the districts of Galle, Matara and Hambantota. The region is economically backward compared to the Western province, where the capital Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte is situated...

 and Central province, 10.7% and 10% respectively. With the end of the war, Northern province
Northern Province, Sri Lanka
The Northern Province is one of the 9 provinces of Sri Lanka. The provinces have existed since the 19th century but did not have any legal status until 1987 when the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils. Between 1988 and 2006 the province was...

 reported a record 22.9% GDP growth in 2010.


The per capita income of Sri Lanka has doubled since 2005. During the same period, proverty has dropped from 15.2% to 7.6%, unemployment has dropped from 7.2% to 4.9%, market capitalization
Market capitalization
Market capitalization is a measurement of the value of the ownership interest that shareholders hold in a business enterprise. It is equal to the share price times the number of shares outstanding of a publicly traded company...

 of CSE
Colombo Stock Exchange
The Colombo Stock Exchange is the main stock exchange in Sri Lanka. It is one of the most modern exchanges in South Asia, providing a fully automated trading platform...

 has quadrupled and budget deficit has doubled. 90% of the households in Sri Lanka are electrified, 87.3% of the population have access to safe drinking water and 39% have access to pipe-borne water. Income inequality has also dropped in recent years, indicated by a gini coefficient
Gini coefficient
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

 of 0.36 in 2010. Sri Lanka's cellular subscriber base has shown a staggering 550% growth, from 2005 to 2010. Sri Lanka was the first country in the South Asian region to introduce 3G
3G
3G or 3rd generation mobile telecommunications is a generation of standards for mobile phones and mobile telecommunication services fulfilling the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 specifications by the International Telecommunication Union...

 (Third Generation), 3.5G HSDPA
High-Speed Downlink Packet Access
High-Speed Downlink Packet Access is an enhanced 3G mobile telephony communications protocol in the High-Speed Packet Access family, also dubbed 3.5G, 3G+ or turbo 3G, which allows networks based on Universal Mobile Telecommunications System to have higher data transfer speeds and capacity...

, 3.75G HSUPA
High-Speed Uplink Packet Access
High-Speed Uplink Packet Access is a 3G mobile telephony protocol in the HSPA family with up-link speeds up to 5.76 Mbit/s. The name HSUPA was created by Nokia...

 and 4G LTE
3GPP Long Term Evolution
3GPP Long Term Evolution, usually referred to as LTE, is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals. It is based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, increasing the capacity and speed using new modulation techniques...

 mobile broadband Internet technologies.

The Global Competitiveness Report
Global Competitiveness Report
The Global Competitiveness Report is a yearly report published by the World Economic Forum. The first report was released in 1979. The 2011–2012 report covers 142 major and emerging economies....

 published by the World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva, best known for its annual meeting in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland....

 has listed Sri Lanka as a transitive economy, from factor-driven stage to efficiency-driven stage, ranking 52nd in the global competitiveness. It also ranked 45th in health and primary education, 32nd in business sophistication, 42nd in innovation and 41st in goods market efficiency out of the 142 countries surveyed. Sri Lanka ranks 8th in the World Giving Index
World Giving Index
The World Giving Index was compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation, using data gathered by Gallup, and ranks 153 countries in the World according to how charitable their populations are. The Charities Aid Foundation claims that WGI is the largest study ever carried out into charitable behaviour...

, registering high levels of contentment and charitable behaviour in its society. In 2010, The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 placed Sri Lanka at number 1 position in 31 places to visit. Dow Jones classified Sri Lanka as an emerging market
Emerging markets
Emerging markets are nations with social or business activity in the process of rapid growth and industrialization. Based on data from 2006, there are around 28 emerging markets in the world . The economies of China and India are considered to be the largest...

 in 2010, and Citigroup
Citigroup
Citigroup Inc. or Citi is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Citigroup was formed from one of the world's largest mergers in history by combining the banking giant Citicorp and financial conglomerate...

 classified it as a 3G country
3G (countries)
3G countries or Global Growth Generators countries are 11 countries economies which have been identified as sources of growth potential and of profitable investment opportunities.-Background:...

 in February 2011. Sri Lanka ranks well above other South Asian countries in Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 (HDI) with 0.658 points.

Although poverty has reduced by 50% during last 5 years, malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

 remains a problem among children. 29% of the children under 5 years of age are reported to be underweight. Nearly 58% of infants between 6 and 11 months and 38% of children between 12 and 23 months are anaemic
Anemia
Anemia is a decrease in number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. However, it can include decreased oxygen-binding ability of each hemoglobin molecule due to deformity or lack in numerical development as in some other types of hemoglobin...

. While Dengue
Dengue fever
Dengue fever , also known as breakbone fever, is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles...

 remains the major infectious disease, non-communicable disease
Non-communicable disease
A non-communicable disease, or NCD, is a medical condition or disease which is non-infectious. NCDs are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. They include heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, and...

es (NCDs) account for 85% of ill health, disability and early death in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans have a life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 of 77.9 years at birth, which is 10% higher than the world average. Infant mortality rate stands at 8.5 per 1000 births and maternal mortality rate at 0.39 per 1000 births, which is in par with figures of the developed countries. The universal, "pro-poor" health care system adopted by the country has contributed much towards these figures.

Sri Lanka has a A and B class road network exceeding 12000 kilometres (7,456.5 mi). It consists of 35 A grade highways connecting major cities. In addition, several expressways
Controlled-access highway
A controlled-access highway is a highway designed exclusively for high-speed vehicular traffic, with all traffic flow and ingress/egress regulated...

 are being built. The railway network
Rail transport in Sri Lanka
Rail Transport in Sri Lanka consists of a heavy-rail intercity network connecting major population centres and commuter rail serving Colombo commuter traffic. State-run Sri Lanka Railways, originally known as Ceylon Government Railways, is the nation's railway owner and primary operator. The...

, operated by the state-run national railway
National Railway
The National Railway or National Air Line Railroad was a planned railroad between New York City and Washington, D.C. in the United States around 1870...

 operator, Sri Lanka Railways
Sri Lanka Railways
Sri Lanka Railway Department, branded "Sri Lanka Railways", is a key department of the Sri Lankan Government under the Ministry of Transport with a history that begins in 1858...

, spans 1447 kilometres (899.1 mi). Sri Lanka also has three deep-water ports, at Colombo, Galle
Galle
Galle is a city situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, 119 km from Colombo. Galle is the capital city of Southern Province of Sri Lanka and it lies in Galle District....

, and Trincomalee
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It has a population of approximately 100,000 . The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay,...

, in addition to the newest port being built at Hambantota. Its flag carrier
Flag carrier
A flag carrier is a transportation company, such as an airline or shipping company, that, being locally registered in a given country, enjoys preferential rights or privileges, accorded by the government, for international operations. It may be a state-run, state-owned or private but...

 airline
Airline
An airline provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit...

 is the SriLankan Airlines
SriLankan Airlines
SriLankan Airlines Limited is the flag carrier airline of Sri Lanka. It operates to destinations in Asia and Europe from its base and hub at Bandaranaike International Airport . The airline's trademark phrase is 'You're Our World', and the company's logo features a stylized peacock...

.

Demographics



Sri Lanka is the 53rd most populated nation in the world, with an annual population growth rate of 0.73%. Sri Lanka has a birth rate
Birth rate
Crude birth rate is the nativity or childbirths per 1,000 people per year . Another word used interchangeably with "birth rate" is "natality". When the crude birth rate is subtracted from the crude death rate, it reveals the rate of natural increase...

 of 17.6 births per 1,000 people and a death rate
Mortality rate
Mortality rate is a measure of the number of deaths in a population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit time...

 of 6.2 deaths per 1,000 people. Population density is highest in western Sri Lanka, especially in and around the capital. Sinhalese
Sinhalese people
The Sinhalese are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group,forming the majority of Sri Lanka,constituting 74% of the Sri Lankan population.They number approximately 15 million worldwide.The Sinhalese identity is based on language, heritage and religion. The Sinhalese speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language and the...

 constitue the largest ethnic group in the country, with 74% of the total population. Sri Lankan Tamils are the second major ethnic group in the island, with a percentage of 12.6. Sri Lankan Moors
Sri Lankan Moors
The Sri Lankan Moors are the third largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka comprising 8% of the country's total population . They are predominantly followers of Islam. The Moors trace their ancestry to Arab traders who settled in Sri Lanka some time between the 8th and 15th centuries...

 comprise 7.4%. Tamils of Indian origin were brought into the country as indentured labourers by British colonists to work on estate plantations. Nearly 50% of them were repatriated
Repatriation
Repatriation is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or soldiers to their place of origin following a war...

 following independence in 1948, They are distinguished from the native Tamil population that has resided in Sri Lanka since ancient times. There are also small ethnic groups such as the Burghers
Burgher people
The Burghers are a Eurasian ethnic group, historically from Sri Lanka, consisting for the most part of male-line descendants of European colonists from the 16th to 20th centuries and local women, with some minorities of Swedish, Norwegian, French and Irish.Today the mother tongue of the Burghers...

 (of mixed European descent) and Austronesian peoples from Southeast Asia. Moreover, there is a small population of Vedda people whom are believed to be the original indigenous group to inhabit the island.


Sinhalese and Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 are the two official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

s of Sri Lanka. Constitution defines English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as the link language. English is widely used for education, scientific and commercial purposes. Members of the Burgher
Burgher people
The Burghers are a Eurasian ethnic group, historically from Sri Lanka, consisting for the most part of male-line descendants of European colonists from the 16th to 20th centuries and local women, with some minorities of Swedish, Norwegian, French and Irish.Today the mother tongue of the Burghers...

 community speak variant forms of Portuguese Creole
Portuguese Creole
Portuguese creoles are creole languages which have been significantly influenced by Portuguese.- Origins :Portuguese overseas exploration in the 15th and 16th century's led to the establishment of a Portuguese Empire with trading posts, forts and colonies in the Americas, Asia and Africa...

 and Dutch with varying proficiency, while members of the Malay community speak a form of Creole
Creole language
A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable natural language developed from the mixing of parent languages; creoles differ from pidgins in that they have been nativized by children as their primary language, making them have features of natural languages that are normally missing from...

 Malay
Sri Lanka Malay
The Sri Lankan Malay is an Austronesian language formed through a unique mixture of the Sinhalese language and the Tamil language with Malay...

 that is unique to the island.

Sri Lanka is also a multi-religious country. Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 constitutes the religious faith of about 70% of the population of the island, most of whom follow the Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 school of Buddhism. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BCE by Venerable Mahinda
Mahinda
Mahinda was a Buddhist monk depicted in Buddhist sources as bringing Buddhism to Sri Lanka. He was the son of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.- Historical Sources :...

. A sapling of the Bodhi Tree
Bodhi tree
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo , was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree located in Bodh Gaya , under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi...

 under which the Buddha attained enlightenment was brought to Sri Lanka during the same time. The Pali Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

 (Thripitakaya), having previously been preserved as an oral tradition, was first committed to writing in Sri Lanka around 30 BCE. Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism of any predominately Buddhist nation, with the Sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

 having existed in a largely unbroken lineage since its introduction in the 2nd century BCE. During periods of decline, the Sri Lankan monastic lineage was revived through contact with Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 and Burma.
Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 is the second most prevalent religion in Sri Lanka which also arrived from India. Hinduism is dominant in Northern, Eastern and Central Sri Lanka. It was primarily established in Sri Lanka by migrants and often invaders from southern India, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 is the third most dominant religion in the country, having been brought to the island by Arab traders over the course of many centuries, most are Sunni who follow the Shafi'i
Shafi'i
The Shafi'i madhhab is one of the schools of fiqh, or religious law, within the Sunni branch of Islam. The Shafi'i school of fiqh is named after Imām ash-Shafi'i.-Principles:...

 school.
Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 was also brought into the country by Western colonists in the early 16th century. Around 8% of the Sri Lankan population are Christians. Out of them, 88% are Roman Catholics, who trace their religious heritage directly to the Portuguese. Rest of the Christians are evenly split between the Anglican Church of Ceylon
Church of Ceylon
The Church of Ceylon, which is the Anglican Church in Sri Lanka, was established with the appointment of its first Bishop, Rt Rev James Chapman in 1845 as the Bishop of Colombo.-The Dioceses of Colombo and Kurunegala:...

 and other Protestant faiths
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

. There is also a small population of Zoroastrian immigrants from India (Parsis) who settled in Ceylon during the period of British rule. But the community has steadily dwindled in recent years. Religion plays a prominent role in the life and culture of Sri Lankans. The Buddhist majority observe Poya Days, once per month according to the Lunar calendar
Lunar calendar
A lunar calendar is a calendar that is based on cycles of the lunar phase. A common purely lunar calendar is the Islamic calendar or Hijri calendar. A feature of the Islamic calendar is that a year is always 12 months, so the months are not linked with the seasons and drift each solar year by 11 to...

. The Hindus and Muslims also observe their own holidays. Sri Lanka was ranked the 3rd most religious country in the world by a 2008 Gallup poll, with 99% of Sri Lankans saying religion is an important part of their daily life.

Culture




The culture of Sri Lanka dates back over 2500 years. It is influenced primarily by Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. Accoring to Islamic folklore, Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews...

 were offered refuge on the island as solace for their expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

. The island is the home to two main traditional cultures: the Sinhalese (centred in the ancient cities of Kandy and Anuradhapura) and the Tamil (centred in the city of Jaffna). In more recent times, the British colonial culture has also influenced the locals. Sri Lanka claims a democratic tradition matched by few other developing countries.

The first Tamil immigration was probably around the third century BC. Tamils co-existed with the Sinhalese people since then, and the early mixing rendered the two ethnic groups almost physically indistinct. Ancient Sri Lanka is marked for its genius in hydraulic engineering and architecture
Architecture of ancient Sri Lanka
The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich variety of architectural forms and styles, varying in style and form from the Anuradhapura Kingdom to the Kingdom of Kandy. Ancient Sri Lankan architecture mainly grew around religion, styles of Buddhist monasteries were in excess of 25...

. The rich cultural traditions is the basis of the country's long life expectancy, advanced health standards and high literacy rate.

Food and festivals



The customary diet in Sri Lanka are rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 and curry, pittu (mixture of fresh rice meal, lightly roasted and mixed with fresh grated coconut, then steamed in a bamboo mould), Kiribath
Kiribath
Kiribath is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made from rice. The word is a compound with a transparent meaning in the Sinhala language, where kiri means "milk" and bath means "rice". The dish is prepared by cooking rice with coconut milk, whence this name. In Tamil, the dish is called paacor...

 (cooked in thick coconut cream
Coconut cream
Coconut cream is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water. The difference is mainly consistency. It has a thicker, more paste-like consistency, while coconut milk is generally a liquid...

 for this unsweetened rice-pudding which is accompanied by a sharp chili relish called "lunumiris"), Roti
Roti
Roti is generally a South Asian bread made from stoneground wholemeal flour, traditionally known as atta flour, that originated and is consumed in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It is also consumed in parts of the Southern Caribbean, particularly in Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and...

 (made from stoneground wholemeal flour, traditionally known as Atta flour
Atta flour
Atta is the Hindi word for oven, and flour is the main ingredient of most varieties of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani bread. Atta generally refers to the oven used in cooking the bread. Flatbreads made from atta, such as chapati, roti, naan and puri, are an integral part of Indian cuisine...

), String hoppers
Idiyappam
Idiyappam is a culinary specialty in Tamilnadu, Kerala and Coastal areas of Karnataka. It is also popular in certain areas of Sri Lanka...

 (prepared by mixing rice flour with hot water and salt), wattalapam (rich pudding of Malay origin made of coconut milk
Coconut milk
Coconut milk is the water that comes from the grated meat of a coconut. The colour and rich taste of the milk can be attributed to the high oil content. In many parts of the world, the term coconut milk is also used to refer to coconut water, the naturally occurring liquid found inside the hollow...

, jaggery, cashew nuts
Cashew
The cashew is a tree in the family Anacardiaceae. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from the indigenous Tupi name, acajú. It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew nuts and cashew apples.-Etymology:The...

, eggs, and various spices including cinnamon cloves and nutmeg
Nutmeg
The nutmeg tree is any of several species of trees in genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia...

), kottu
Kottu
Kottu, or Kottu Roti is a Sri Lankan dish, made from a Sri Lankan type of bread called Godamba Roti, and vegetables, egg, or meat, and various spices. An optional spicy gravy is usually served with a kottu rotti. A hot kottu is generally eaten as a dinner meal...

, hoppers ("appa"), etc. Jackfruit
Jackfruit
The jackfruit is a species of tree in the Artocarpus genus of the mulberry family . It is native to parts of Southern and Southeast Asia. It is the national fruit of Bangladesh, . The jackfruit tree is believed to be indigenous to the southwestern rain forests of India...

 may replace rice and curries at times. Traditional meals are usually served on plantain leaf
Plantain
Plantain is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa. The fruit they produce is generally used for cooking, in contrast to the soft, sweet banana...

.

Middle Eastern influences and practices are found in traditional Moor
Sri Lankan Moors
The Sri Lankan Moors are the third largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka comprising 8% of the country's total population . They are predominantly followers of Islam. The Moors trace their ancestry to Arab traders who settled in Sri Lanka some time between the 8th and 15th centuries...

 dishes. While Dutch and Portuguese influences are found with the island's Burgher community preserving their culture through traditional favourites such as Lamprais (rice cooked in stock and baked in a banana leaf), Breudher (Dutch Christmas cake
Christmas cake
Christmas cake is a type of fruitcake served at Christmas time in the UK, Ireland, Japan, Philippines and many Commonwealth countries.A Christmas cake may be light or dark, crumbly-moist to sticky-wet, spongy to heavy, leavened or unleavened, shaped round, square or oblong as whole cakes, fairy...

) and Bolo Fiado (Portuguese-style layer cake).

Every year in mid April, Sri Lankans celebrate the Sinhalese and Hindu new year festival. In addition, Esala Perahera
Esala Perahera
Esala Perahera is the grand festival of Esala held in Sri Lanka. It is very grand with elegant costumes. Happening in July or August in Kandy, it has become a unique symbol of Sri Lanka. It is a Buddhist festival consisting of dances and nicely decorated elephants. There are fire-dances,...

, a symbolic Buddhist festival consisting of dances and richly decorated elephants, is held in Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

, during the month of August. Fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandian dances and various other cultural dances are integral parts of the festival. Tamils celebrate Thai Pongal, Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivratri or Maha Sivaratri or Shivaratri or Sivarathri is a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Maagha or Phalguna...

 and Muslims celebrate Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

, Ramadan
Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

 in their respective days of the year.

Visual, literary and performing arts


The movie Kadawunu Poronduwa
Kadawunu Poronduwa
Kadawunu Poronduwa was the first film to be made in the Sinhala language; it is generally considered to have heralded the coming of Sinhala Cinema. The film was produced and filmed in India however, and was highly influenced by South Indian melodrama...

(The broken promise), produced by S. M. Nayagam of Chitra Kala Movietone, heralded the coming of Sri Lankan cinema in 1947. Ranmuthu Duwa
Ranmuthu Duwa
Ranmuthu Duwa was the first colour full-length Sinhalese language film to be produced in Sri Lanka in 1962. It was produced by Shesha Palihakkara and directed by Mike Wilson, who also made his debut as a feature director...

(Island of treasures, 1962) marked the transition cinema from black-and-white
Black-and-white
Black-and-white, often abbreviated B/W or B&W, is a term referring to a number of monochrome forms in visual arts.Black-and-white as a description is also something of a misnomer, for in addition to black and white, most of these media included varying shades of gray...

 to color. It in the recent years has featured subjects such as family melodrama
Melodrama
The term melodrama refers to a dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions. It may also refer to the genre which includes such works, or to language, behavior, or events which resemble them...

, social transformation and the years of conflict between the military and the LTTE. Their cinematic style is similar to the Bollywood
Bollywood
Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai , Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the total Indian film industry, which includes other production centers producing...

 movies. In 1979, movie attendance rose to an all-time high, but recoded a gradual downfall since then. Undoubtedly the most influential and revolutionary filmmaker in the history of Sri Lankan cinema is Lester James Peiris, who has directed a number of movies which led to global acclaim, including Rekava
Rekava
Rekava is a 1956 film based on village life and their mythical beliefs in Sri Lanka . It is the first Sinhalese film which was fully shot in Ceylon and was the first in the country to be shot outdoors. It was also the first film which was free from Indian influence...

(Line of destiny, 1956), Gamperaliya
Gamperaliya
Gamperaliya is a novel written by Sri Lankan writer Martin Wickremasinghe and first published in 1944....

(The changing village, 1964), Nidhanaya
Nidhanaya
Nidhanaya is a 1972 Sinhalese language film directed by Lester James Peries, starring Gamini Fonseka and Malini Fonseka. Movie is based on a short story written by G.B.Senanayake in one of his short story collection known as "The Revenge". It revolves around a murder which is committed for the...

(The treasure, 1970) and Golu Hadawatha
Golu Hadawatha
Golu Hadawatha was a popular 1969 Sinhalese language romance film directed by maestro Lester James Peiris. The film stars Wickrema Bogoda and Anula Karunathilake in the lead roles. Based on a novel by Karunasena Jayalath, its screenplay was written by Regi Siriwardena. Music was by Premasiri...

(Cold heart, 1968).

The earliest music in Sri Lanka came from theatrical performances such as Kolam, Sokari and Nadagam. Traditional music instruments such as Béra, Thammátama, Daŭla and Răbān were performed at these dramas. The first music album, Nurthi, was released through Radio Ceylon
Radio Ceylon
Radio Ceylon is the oldest radio station in Asia. Broadcasting was started on an experimental basis in Ceylon by the Telegraph Department in 1923, just three years after the inauguration of broadcasting in Europe.- Edward Harper :...

, in 1903. Songwriters like Mahagama Sekara
Mahagama Sekara
Mahagama Sekara is one of Sri Lanka's well known poets and was a significant figure in Sinhalese poetry. He was also a teacher, lyricist, playwright, novelist, artist, translator and a filmmaker. Sekera is best remembered as a poet and songwriter with several of his works even becoming popular...

 and Ananda Samarakoon and musicians such as W. D. Amaradeva, H. R. Jothipala
H. R. Jothipala
Hettiarachchige Reginald Jothipala was a prolific playback singer in the Sinhala cinema. His voice, style and songs are a blessing to the numerous listeners, who are musically inclined and could make a quote that none of those duplicated voices match the golden voice of this gifted...

 and Clarence Wijewardene have contributed much towards the upliftment of Sri Lankan music. Baila
Baila
Baila is a form of dance music popular on the island of Sri Lanka. The genre originated centuries ago among the 'kaffir' or Afro-Sinhalese communities and was later amalgamated with European instruments and eastern and western rhythms, especially rhythms found in Spain and northern European folk...

 is another popular music genre
Music genre
A music genre is a categorical and typological construct that identifies musical sounds as belonging to a particular category and type of music that can be distinguished from other types of music...

 in the country, originated among Kaffirs or the or Afro-Sinhalese community.
There are three main styles of Sri Lankan classical dance. They are, the Kandyan dance
Kandyan Dance
Kandyan Dance is a dance form that originated in the area called Kandy of the Central hills region in Sri Lanka. But today it has been widespread to other parts of the country.-History:...

s, low country dances and Sabaragamuwa dances. Out of these, the Kandyan style, which flourished under kings of the Kingdom of Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy was an important independent monarchy of Sri Lanka, located in the central and eastern portion of the island. It was founded in late 15th century and endured until the early 19th century...

, is more prominent. It is a sophisticated form of dance, that consists of five sub-categories: Ves dance, Naiyandi dance, Udekki dance, Pantheru dance and 18 Vannam. An elaborate headdress is worn by the male dancers and a drum called Geta Béraya is used to assist the dancer to keep on rhythm. In addion, four folk drama variants named Sokri, Kolam, Nadagam, Pasu, and several devil dance variants such as Sanni Yakuma
Sanni Yakuma
Sanni yakuma, sometimes known as Daha ata sanniya is a traditional Sinhalese exorcism ritual. The ritual consists of 18 dances, each depicting a particular illness or ailment affecting humans. These 18 dances are the main dances of the Pahatharata, or low country, dancing form, which is one of the...

 and Kohomba Kankariya can be also observed.
The history of Sri Lankan painting and sculpture can be traced as far back as to the 2nd or 3rd century BC. The earliest mention about the art of painting on Mahavamsa, is to the drawing of a palace on cloth using cinnabar in the 2nd century BC. The chronicles have description of various paintings in relic-chambers of Buddhist stupas, and in monastic residence. Theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 moved into the country when a Parsi
Parsi
Parsi or Parsee refers to a member of the larger of the two Zoroastrian communities in South Asia, the other being the Irani community....

 company from Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

 introduced Nurti, a blend of European and Indian theatrical conventions to the Colombo audience in 19th century. The golden age of Sri Lankan drama and theatre began with the staging of Maname, a play written by Ediriweera Sarachchandra
Ediriweera Sarachchandra
Ediriweera Sarachchandra was an Sri Lankan playwright, novelist, poet, literary critic, essayist and social commentator. Considered Sri Lanka's premier playwright, he was a senior lecturer at the University of Peradeniya for many years and served as Sri Lankan Ambassador to France .- Early...

 in 1956. It was followed by a series of popular dramas like Sinhabāhu, Pabāvatī, Mahāsāra, Muudu Puththu and Subha saha Yasa.

Theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 moved into the country when a Parsi
Parsi
Parsi or Parsee refers to a member of the larger of the two Zoroastrian communities in South Asia, the other being the Irani community....

 company from Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

 introduced Nurti, a blend of European and Indian theatrical conventions to the Colombo audience in 19th century. The golden age of Sri Lankan drama and theatre began with the staging of Maname, a play written by Ediriweera Sarachchandra
Ediriweera Sarachchandra
Ediriweera Sarachchandra was an Sri Lankan playwright, novelist, poet, literary critic, essayist and social commentator. Considered Sri Lanka's premier playwright, he was a senior lecturer at the University of Peradeniya for many years and served as Sri Lankan Ambassador to France .- Early...

 in 1956. It was followed by a series of popular dramas like Sinhabāhu, Pabāvatī, Mahāsāra, Muudu Puththu and Subha saha Yasa.

The history of Sri Lankan literature runs at least two millennia back, and is heir to the Aryan
Aryan race
The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

 literary tradition as embodied in the hymns of the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

. The Pāli Canon
Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...

, the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 tradition, was written down in Sri Lanka during the Fourth Buddhist council
Fourth Buddhist council
Fourth Buddhist Council is the name of two separate Buddhist council meetings. The first one was held in the 1st century BC, in Sri Lanka. In this fourth Buddhist council the Theravadin Pali Canon was for the first time committed to writing, on palm leaves...

, at the Alulena cave temple, Kegalle
Kegalle
Kegalle is a town in Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka. It is located on the Colombo - Kandy road. Its 48 miles/78 km away from Colombo and 24 Miles/40 km away from Kandy. It is the Capital City of the Kegalle District which is one of the two districts belonging to Sabaragamuwa province...

, as early as 29 BC. Ancient chronicles such as Mahāvamsa, which was written in 6th century provide vivid descriptions of Sri Lankan dynasty. According to the German philosopher Wilhelm Geiger
Wilhelm Geiger
Wilhelm Ludwig Geiger was a German Orientalist, in the fields of Indian and Iranian languages. He was known as a specialist in Pali, Sinhala language and the Dhivehi language of the Maldives.-Life:...

, the chronicles are based on Sinhala Atthakatha
Atthakatha
Atthakatha refers to Pali-language Theravadin Buddhist commentaries to the canonical Theravadin Tipitaka. These commentaries give the traditional interpretations of the scriptures. The major commentaries were based on earlier ones, now lost, in Old Sinhalese, which were written down at the same...

 (commentary), that dates few more centuries back. The oldest surviving prose work is the Dhampiya-Atuva-Getapadaya, compiled in the ninth century. The greatest literary feats of medieval Sri Lanka include Sandesha Kāvya (poetic messages) such as Girā Sandeshaya (Parrot message), Hansa Sandeshaya
Hamsa-Sandesha
Hamsa-Sandesha or "The message of the Swan" is a Sanskrit love poem written by Vedanta Desika in the 13th century AD. A short lyric poem of 110 verses, it describes how Rama, hero of the Ramayana epic, sends a message via a swan to his beloved wife, Sita, who has been abducted by the demon king...

(Swan message) and Salalihini Sandeshaya (Myna message). Poetry including Kavsilumina, Kavya-Sekharaya (diadem of poetry) and proses such as Saddharma-Ratnāvaliya, Amāvatura (Flood of nectar) and Pujāvaliya are also notable works of this period, which is considered to be the golden age of Sri Lankan literature. The first modern-day novel, Meena, a work of Simon de Silva appeared in 1905, and was followed by a number of revolutionary literary works. Martin Wickramasinghe
Martin Wickramasinghe
Martin Wickramasinghe , MBE was a Sri Lankan novelist. His books have been translated into several langues....

, the author of Madol Doova
Madol Doova
Madol Doova is a children's novel written by Sri Lankan writer Martin Wickramasinghe and first published in 1947. The book recounts the misadventures of Upali Giniwella and his friends on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka during the 1890s. It later describes the efforts of Upali and his friend Jinna...

is considered the iconic figure of Sri Lankan literature.

Education


With a literacy rate of 92.5%, Sri Lanka has one of the most literate populations amongst developing nations
Developing country
A developing country, also known as a less-developed country, is a nation with a low level of material well-being. Since no single definition of the term developing country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries...

. Its youth literacy rate stands at 98%, computer literacy rate at 35%, and primary school enrolment rate at over 99%. An education system which dictates 9 years of compulsory schooling
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

 for every child is in place. The free education system
Free education
Free education refers to education that is funded through taxation, or charitable organizations rather than tuition fees. Although primary school and other comprehensive or compulsory education is free in many countries, for example, all education is mostly free including...

 established in 1945, is a result of the initiative of C. W. W. Kannangara and A. Ratnayake. It is one of the few countries in the world that provides universal free education from primary to tertiary stage.

Kannangara led the establishment of the Madhya Maha Vidyalayas (Central Schools) in different parts of the country in order to provide education to Sri Lanka's rural children. In 1942 a special education committee proposed extensive reforms to establish an efficient and quality education system
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 for the people. However in the 1980s changes to this system saw the separation the of administration of schools between the central government and the provincial government. Thus the elite National School
National school (Sri Lanka)
A National school ) in Sri Lanka is a school that is funded and administered by the Ministry of Education of the central government as opposed to Provincial schools run by the local provincial council. These schools provide secondary education , with some providing primary education as well...

s are controlled directly by the Ministry of Education
Ministry of Education (Sri Lanka)
The Ministry Of Education is a ministry of the Government of Sri Lanka that directs the formulation and implementation of policies related to primary and secondary education in Sri Lanka...

 and the provincial schools by the provincial government. Sri Lanka has approximately 9675 government schools, 817 private schools and Pirivena
Pirivena
Pirivena is a monastic college for the education of Buddhist priests in Sri Lanka. These have been the centers of secondary and higher education in ancient times for lay people as well. Today 561 Piriven are founded and maintained by the Ministry of Education...

s. The number of public universities
Public university
A public university is a university that is predominantly funded by public means through a national or subnational government, as opposed to private universities. A national university may or may not be considered a public university, depending on regions...

 in Sri Lanka is 15. However, lack of responsiveness of the education system to labor market requirements, disparities in access to quality education, lack of an effective linkage between secondary and tertiary education remain major challenges for the education sector. A number of private, degree awarding institutions have emerged in recent times to fill in these gaps. But still, the participation at tertiary level education hovers around 4%.

Human rights and media


Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation came into existence on January 5, 1967 when Radio Ceylon became a public corporation. Dudley Senanayake who was the Prime Minister of Ceylon in 1967 ceremonially opened the newly established Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation along with Minister Ranasinghe...

 (formerly Radio Ceylon
Radio Ceylon
Radio Ceylon is the oldest radio station in Asia. Broadcasting was started on an experimental basis in Ceylon by the Telegraph Department in 1923, just three years after the inauguration of broadcasting in Europe.- Edward Harper :...

) is the oldest-running radio station in Asia. It was established in 1923 by Edward Harper
Edward Harper
Edward Harper was an engineer who travelled to Colombo in 1921 to work in the Ceylon Telegraph Department. Harper was appointed Chief Engineer. He had an innovative mind and his passion was broadcasting...

 just three years after broadcasting was launched in Europe. The station broadcasts services in Sinhalese, Tamil, English and Hindi. Since the 1980s, a large number of private radio stations have also being introduced. Broadcast television was introduced to the country in 1979 when the Independent Television Network
Independent Television Network
Independent Television Network Limited is a Sri Lankan state governed television and radio broadcaster located in Wickramasinhapura, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka. ITN, a Shrama Abhimani Award winner...

 was launched. Initially all Television stations were state controlled, but private television networks began broadcasts in 1992. As of 2010, 51 newspapers (30 Sinhala, 10 Tamil, 11 English) are published and 34 TV stations and 52 radio stations are operated in the coutry. However in the recent years, freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

 in Sri Lanka has been widely criticised by media freedom groups.

Human rights as ratified by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 are guaranteed by the constitution of Sri Lanka. However the human rights in Sri Lanka
Human rights in Sri Lanka
Major human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the United States Department of State and the European Union, have expressed concern about the state of human rights in Sri Lanka. Both the government of Sri Lanka and the separatist Liberation Tigers of...

 has also come under criticism by human rights groups such as Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 and Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

, as well as the United States Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

. Both the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist and nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil...

 (LTTE) and the government of Sri Lanka are accused of violating human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

. A report by an advisory panel to the UN secretary-general
Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka
The Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka was a report produced by a panel of experts appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advise him accountability in Sri Lanka following the end of the three decade old Sri Lankan Civil War which is...

 has accused both Sri Lankan government and the LTTE on alleged war crimes committed during final stages of the civil war.

Sports


While the national sport
National sport
A national sport or national pastime is a sport or game that is considered to be an intrinsic part of the culture of a nation. Some sports are de facto national sports, as baseball is in the U.S., while others are de jure as lacrosse and ice hockey are in Canada.-De jure national sports:-De facto...

 in Sri Lanka is volleyball
Volleyball
Volleyball is a team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team's court under organized rules.The complete rules are extensive...

, by far the most popular sport in the country is cricket
Cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

. Rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

 also enjoys extensive popularity, as do aquatic sports
Fina
Fina may refer to:*Fina, a character in the Skies of Arcadia video game*FINA, the International Swimming Federation*FINA, the North American Forum on Integration...

, athletics, football (soccer) and tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

. Sri Lanka's schools and colleges regularly organise sports and athletics teams, competing on provincial and national levels.

The Sri Lanka national cricket team achieved considerable success beginning in the 1990s, rising from underdog
Underdog (competition)
An underdog is a person or group in a competition, frequently in electoral politics, sports and creative works, who is popularly expected to lose. The party, team or individual expected to win is called the favorite or top dog. In the rare case where an underdog wins, the outcome is an upset. These...

 status to winning the 1996 Cricket World Cup
1996 Cricket World Cup
The 1996 Cricket World Cup, also called the Wills World Cup after its official sponsors, was the sixth edition of the tournament organized by the International Cricket Council . It was the second World Cup to be hosted by Pakistan and India, and for the first time by Sri Lanka...

. They also became the runners up of the Cricket World Cup
Cricket World Cup
The ICC Cricket World Cup is the premier international championship of men's One Day International cricket. The event is organised by the sport's governing body, the International Cricket Council , with preliminary qualification rounds leading up to a finals tournament which is held every four years...

 in 2007
2007 Cricket World Cup
The 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup was the ninth edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup tournament that took place in the West Indies from 13 March to 28 April 2007, using the sport's One Day International format...

, 2011
2011 Cricket World Cup Final
The 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup Final was played between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on 2 April 2011. This was the 10th ICC Cricket World Cup. India won the match by six wickets, its second World Cup victory, having previously won in 1983. India became the third nation to...

. and of the ICC World Twenty20
ICC World Twenty20
The ICC World Twenty20 or ICC World T20 also referred to as the T20 World Cup is the international championship of Twenty20 cricket. The event is organised by the sport's governing body, the International Cricket Council...

 in 2009
2009 ICC World Twenty20
The 2009 ICC World Twenty20 was an international Twenty20 cricket tournament which took place in England in June 2009. It was the second ICC World Twenty20 tournament, following the inaugural event in South Africa in September 2007...

. Former Sri Lankan off-spinner
Off spin
Off spin is a type of bowling in the sport of cricket which is bowled by an off spinner, a right-handed spin bowler who uses his or her fingers and/or wrist to spin the ball from a right-handed batsman's off side to the leg side...

, Muttiah Muralitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan , often referred to as Murali, is a former Sri Lankan cricketer who was rated the greatest Test match bowler ever by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in 2002...

 has been rated as the greatest Test match
Test cricket
Test cricket is the longest form of the sport of cricket. Test matches are played between national representative teams with "Test status", as determined by the International Cricket Council , with four innings played between two teams of 11 players over a period of up to a maximum five days...

 bowler ever by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack is a cricket reference book published annually in the United Kingdom...

. Sri Lanka has won the Asia Cup
Asia Cup
The ACC Asia Cup is an international men's One Day International cricket tournament. It was established in 1983 when the Asian Cricket Council was founded as a measure to promote goodwill between Asian countries. It was originally scheduled to be held every two years...

 in 1986
1986 Asia Cup
The 1986 Asia Cup , was the second Asia Cup tournament, and was held in Sri Lanka between March 30 and April 6. Three teams took part in the tournament: Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka....

, 1997
1997 Asia Cup
The 1997 Asia Cup , was the sixth Asia Cup tournament, and the second to be held in Sri Lanka. The tournament took place between July 14–26, 1997...

, 2004
2004 Asia Cup
The eighth edition of cricket's Asia Cup was held in Sri Lanka after a gap of 4 years. Sri Lanka beat India in the final to win the cup.-Squads:-Group A:---------Group B:---------Super Fours:--------...

 and 2008
2008 Asia Cup
Cricket's 2008 Asia Cup took place in Pakistan in June 2008. The six teams which took part in the tournament were Bangladesh, India, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the UAE. This was the first Asia Cup hosted by Pakistan; previously political tensions between India and Pakistan did not permit...

. Current world records for highest team score in all three formats of the game are also held by Sri Lanka. The country co-hosted the Cricket World Cup in 1996 and 2011.

Sri Lankans have won two medals at Olympic Games, both silver, by Duncan White
Duncan White
Duncan White, MBE was the first Sri Lankan athlete to win a medal for his country in an Olympic event. He won a silver in the 400-metre hurdles at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England...

 at 1948 London Olympics
1948 Summer Olympics
The 1948 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XIV Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in London, England, United Kingdom. After a 12-year hiatus because of World War II, these were the first Summer Olympics since the 1936 Games in Berlin...

 for men's 400 metres hurdles
400 metres hurdles
The 400 metres hurdles is an Olympic athletics event in track and field. On a standard outdoor track 400 metres is the length of the inside lane once around the stadium. Runners stay in their lane the entire way after starting out of the blocks and must clear ten hurdles that are evenly...

 and by Susanthika Jayasinghe
Susanthika Jayasinghe
Susanthika Jayasinghe is a Sri Lankan sprint athlete specializing in the 100 and 200 metres....

 at 2000 Sydney Olympics
2000 Summer Olympics
The Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games or the Millennium Games/Games of the New Millennium, officially known as the Games of the XXVII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated between 15 September and 1 October 2000 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia...

 for women's 200 metres
200 metres
A 200 metres race is a sprint running event. On an outdoor 400 m track, the race begins on the curve and ends on the home straight, so a combination of techniques are needed to successfully run the race. A slightly shorter race, called the stadion and run on a straight track, was the first...

. In 1973, Mohammed Lafir won the World Billiards Championship
IBSF World Billiards Championship
The IBSF World Billiards Championship is the premier non-professional tournament for the game of English billiards in the world...

, highest feat of a Sri Lankan in a Cue sport. Aquatic sports such as boating, surfing, swimming, kitesurfing and scuba diving
Scuba diving
Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses a scuba set to breathe underwater....

 on the coast, the beaches and backwaters attract a large number of Sri Lankans and foreign tourists. There are two styles of martial arts native to Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan martial arts
There are two styles of martial arts native to Sri Lanka, these are Cheena di and Angampora.Cheena di was taught by Chinese monks to locals when they made pilgrimages to see Buddha's footprint and tooth, relics that are still on display in Sri Lanka...

, Cheena di and Angampora.

See also


  • Commonwealth of Nations
    Commonwealth of Nations
    The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...



External links



Government
  • Official Sri Lankan Government Web Portal Gateway to government sites
  • Official Web Portal of Parliament of Sri Lanka
    Parliament of Sri Lanka
    The Parliament of Sri Lanka is the 225-member unicameral legislature of Sri Lanka. The members of Parliament are elected by proportional representation for six-year terms, with universal suffrage. Parliament reserves the power to make all laws...

  • Official Government News Portal
  • Official Web Portal of the President of Sri Lanka
    President of Sri Lanka
    The President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is the elected head of state and the head of government. The President is a dominant political figure in Sri Lanka. The office was created in 1978 but has grown so powerful there have been calls to restrict or even eliminate its power...

  • Supreme Court Official site of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
    Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
    The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka is the highest court of the nation of Sri Lanka. The Supreme Court is the highest and final judicial instance of record and is empowered to exercise its powers, subject to the provisions of the Constitution. The Court has ultimate appellate jurisdiction in...


Overview and Data
  • Official site of Department of Census and Statistics
  • Annual Report 2010 Ministry of Finance and Planning
  • Sri Lanka Encyclopædia Britannica
    Encyclopædia Britannica
    The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

     entry
  • Introducing Sri Lanka Overview of the country from Lonely Planet
    Lonely Planet
    Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world. The company is owned by BBC Worldwide, which bought a 75% share from the founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 2007 and the final 25% in February 2011...


History
  • Mahavamsa an ancient Sri Lankan chronicle written in 6th century
  • A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms an account by the Chinese monk Fa-Hsien
    Faxian
    Faxian was a Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled to India, Sri Lanka and Kapilavastu in today's Nepal between 399 and 412 to acquire Buddhist scriptures...

     of travels in India and Ceylon, 399-414 AD
  • An account of early modern Sri Lanka An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon
    An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon
    An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon together With somewhat Concerning Severall Remarkable passages of my life that hath hapned since my Deliverance out of Captivity is a book written by the English trader and sailor Robert Knox in 1681...

     by Robert Knox
    Robert Knox (sailor)
    Robert Knox was an English sea captain in the service of the British East India Company. He was the son of another sea captain, also called Robert Knox....

    , 1681
  • Sketches of the Natural History of Ceylon by Sir
    Sir
    Sir is an honorific used as a title , or as a courtesy title to address a man without using his given or family name in many English speaking cultures...

     James Emerson Tennent
    James Emerson Tennent
    Sir James Emerson Tennent, 1st Baronet FRS , born James Emerson, was an Irish politician and traveller. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 5 June 1862....

    , 1861

Maps
  • Sri Lanka Map in Google Maps
    Google Maps
    Google Maps is a web mapping service application and technology provided by Google, free , that powers many map-based services, including the Google Maps website, Google Ride Finder, Google Transit, and maps embedded on third-party websites via the Google Maps API...