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SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country of the southern coast of Indian subcontinent. Until 1972 as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean. It is a part of south Asia.   It is located in the path of major sea routes and in ancient times too it was an important stop on the “Silk `Route.  Sri Lanka has been the centre of Buddhist religion and forms the majority of the population and Tamils the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include Muslims, Burghers, Malays and the aboriginal Adi Vaasi (Veddah) people.  Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a presidential system.

The country is famous for Tea, Rubber and coconut .Sri Lanka tea is acclaimed the world” s best .coffee, cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves also are produced as export crops. Rich in mineral resources, Sri Lanka is a major exporter of precious and semi-precious stones. The country has one of the longest and colorful histories of over 3000 years, in the world. The rich culture can be attributed to its ethnic diversity…

Within the boundaries of this one small island you find more than 1000 miles of sunny, palm fringed beaches, breathtaking scenery up in the hills covered with lush green tea plantations, cascading waterfalls, wonderful architecture of the ancient past, brooding jungles and wild life and the fascinating art and culture.

Sri Lanka is a founding member of SAARC and a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, G77 and Non Alignment movement.  What may strike you most about Sri Lanka is its amazing diversity of scenery. It is possible to pass brilliant green paddy fields, sun-bronzed beaches, ruined cities, small lively villages, near desert regions, and hill country tea plantations literally within hours of each other.

Ancient Sanskrit literature refer to Sri Lanka as ‘sinhaladvipa’-island of the Sinhalese. The people called by that name have inhabited this island from earliest historical times. Traditions recorded in the historical chronicles of Sri Lanka trace the origin of the Sinhalese to an exiled North  Indian prince, Vijaya , and his retinue , who settled down in the island and established the Sinhalese Kingdom in the 6th C.B.C.

However, the earliest recorded civilization dates back to 380 BC, when Anuradhapura (205 Km from Colombo) was established as the first Capital City. Following the advent of Budhism in the 3rd Century BC, a civilization rich in indo-Aryan culture took root. It produced the great cities with their “dagabas” which compare, and even exceed in size, the pyramids of Egypt, palaces and pleasure gardens, rich art and architecture and the gigantic irrigation works, many of which are still in use today.

With invasions from neighboring  south India, the base of power shifted to Polonnaruwa (101 Km south East of Anuradhapura) and other cities such as Dambadeniya, Kurunegala, Kotte and Kandy. In the 16th Century the island had its first recorded encounter with the traders and colonizers of the west, with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505.What followed was a period of nearly five hundred years during which the island came under the control and influence of the Portuguese, Dutch and British. While the Portuguese and Dutch ruled over  the maritime regions for a rough 150 years each, the British established complete control over the island with the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815.They too ruled for 150 years before the country regained independence in 1948.The impact of many cultures over the centuries, from south Indian to the Moorish and that of the western colonizers, have resulted in the country’s culture being enriched by a rich diversity, much of which is in evidence today. The island’s economy, has traditionally been based on agriculture, with rice as the main food crop. Spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and pepper have been age old exports, as were gems and  even peacocks and elephants. With western commercial influence, rice gave way to cash crops, until the British made tea the base of the economy.

The new thrust in the economy is on export-led industry. Agriculture is  now being revived. Non-traditional exports such as garments, seafood, foliage, cut flowers and tropical fish and value added agro-industries have in recent years contributed to the economic advance of Sri Lanka.

The people of Sri Lanka are of diverse races and faiths. The majority are Sinhalese who are Buddhists, while among the minorities the Tamils, mainly Hindus are the largest, followed by the moors who follow Islam, and a sharply declining number of Burghers, descended from the Portuguese and Dutch, who are Christians. There is also a considerable population of Christians among the Sinhalese and Tamils.

Although well on the road to modernization, the country and its people still cherish most of their traditional values and take pride in their rich culture. An aspect which continues to attract visitors from abroad, as much as the beauty and diversity of scenery, and the warmth and friendship of the people.

Geography

An island of approx.65, 610 sq. km. Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean off the Southern tip of the coast  of India. It locates between 5 ‘55’ north of the equator and between the eastern longitudes 79’ 42’ and  81’ 52’.

Climate

Warm and fine year round. Average temperatures around 27’ C in Colombo going as the land rises to the hill country to as low as 10’ C. The island has two wet seasons between may and July in the south –west and December/January in the north-east. Climatically Sri Lanka has no off-season. Bright sunny warm days are the rule and are common even during the wet season.sea temperatures as a rule remain around 27’ C.

Population

Nearly 19.3 Sinhalese 9’3 million,74.5% Sinhalese, 11.9% SL Tamils, 4.6 % Ind. Tamil 8.3% Moors,0.3% Malays, 0.2% Burghers and 0.2% Others. Literacy rate average 90.01%-one of highest in Asia  (2001).Total population 2010-20.6m.

Religions

Predominantly Buddhism  but also Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

Language

Communication is rarely a problem because English is understood in all parts of the country. Place names and signboards are in the national languages and often in English .Official languages- Sinhala, Tamil and English. National Languages-Sinhalese and Tamil

Time

Sri Lanka’s Standard Time is 5 ½ hours ahead of Greenwich.

Water

Filtered water and mineral waters as well as bottled drinking water are available. The yellow king coconut is a popular thirst quencher, and of course, the most popular drink is a hot cup of tea.

Image Gallery of Sri Lanka