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Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an
island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citizenship. A country may be an indepe ...
in
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri La ...

South Asia
. It lies in the
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of and contains 97% of . Another definition is "any of the large ...

Indian Ocean
, southwest of the
Bay of Bengal The Bay of Bengal is the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water on Earth's surface. It is bounded by Asia to the north, Africa to th ...

Bay of Bengal
, and southeast of the
Arabian Sea The Arabian Sea ( ar, بحر العرب ''Bahr al-Arab'') is a region of the northern Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water Water is an Inorganic co ...
; it is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the
Gulf of Mannar The Gulf of Mannar ( ) is a large shallow bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such as an ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt wa ...
and the
Palk Strait The Palk Strait ( ta, பாக்கு நீரிணை) is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies betw ...
. Sri Lanka shares a
maritime border A maritime boundary is a conceptual division of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continent A continent is ...
with
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
and the
Maldives Maldives (, ; dv, ދިވެހިރާއްޖެ, translit=Dhivehi Raajje IPA: ), officially the Republic of Maldives, is an archipelagic country in the Indian subcontinent of Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located prima ...

Maldives
.
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, commonly known as Kotte (), is the official administrative capital of Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO; ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, transli ...
is its legislative capital, and
Colombo Colombo ( si, කොළඹ, translit=Koḷam̆ba, ; ta, கொழும்பு, translit=Koḻumpu, ) is the commercial capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction betwe ...

Colombo
is its
largest city The United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, ...
and
financial centre A financial centre, financial center, or financial hub is a location with a concentration of participants Participation or Participant may refer to: Politics *Participation (decision making), mechanisms for people to participate in social de ...
. Sri Lanka's documented history goes back 3,000 years, with evidence of prehistoric human settlements that dates to at least 125,000 years ago. It has a rich cultural heritage. The earliest known
Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitu ...
writings of Sri Lanka, known collectively as the
Pāli canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scripture Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something ...
, date to the fourth Buddhist council, which took place in 29 BCE. Sri Lanka's geographic location and deep harbours have made it of great strategic importance, from the earliest days of the ancient
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade route A trade route is a logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. The term can also be used to refer to trade over bodies of ...

Silk Road
trade route to today's so-called
maritime Silk Road The Maritime Silk Road or Maritime Silk Route refers to the maritime section of the historic Silk Road The Silk Road was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, and was central to the eco ...
. Because its location made it a major trading hub, it was already known to both Far Easterners and Europeans as long ago as the
Anuradhapura period The Anuradhapura period was a period in the history of Sri Lanka of the Anuradhapura Kingdom from 377 BC to 1017 AD. The period begins when Pandukabhaya of Anuradhapura, Pandukabhaya, Kingdom of Upatissa Nuwara, King of Upatissa Nuwara moved the a ...
. The country's trade in luxury goods and spices attracted traders of many nations, which helped to create Sri Lanka's diverse population. During a period of great political crisis in the
Sinhalese kingdom of Kotte
Sinhalese kingdom of Kotte
, the
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...
arrived in Sri Lanka (largely by accident) and then sought to control the island's maritime regions and its lucrative external trade. Part of Sri Lanka became a
Portuguese possession
Portuguese possession
. After the Sinhalese-Portuguese war, the
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
and the
Kingdom of Kandy The Kingdom of Kandy was a monarchy on the Sri Lanka, island of Sri Lanka, located in the central and eastern portion of the island. It was founded in the late 15th century and endured until the early 19th century. Initially a client kingdom ...

Kingdom of Kandy
took control of those areas. The
Dutch possessions
Dutch possessions
were then taken by the
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...

British
, who later extended their control over the whole island, colonising it from 1815 to 1948. A national movement for political independence arose in the early 20th century, and in 1948, Ceylon became a
dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland ...

dominion
. The dominion was succeeded by the
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
named Sri Lanka in 1972. Sri Lanka's more recent history was marred by a 26-year
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
, which began in 1983 and ended decisively in 2009; when the
Sri Lanka Armed Forces The Sri Lanka Armed Forces is the overall unified military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintaine ...
defeated the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ( ta, தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள், translit=Tamiḻīḻa viṭutalaip pulikaḷ, si, දම්ළ ඊළාම් විමුක්ති කොටි, t ...
. Today, Sri Lanka is a
multinational state A multinational state or a multinational union is a sovereign entity Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty i ...
, home to diverse cultures, languages, and ethnicities. The
Sinhalese Sinhala may refer to: * Something of or related to the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka * Sinhalese people * Sinhala language, one of the three official languages used in Sri Lanka * Sinhala script, a writing system for the Sinhala language ** Sinhala ...
are the majority of the nation's population. The
Tamils The Tamil people, also known as Tamilar ( ta, தமிழர், Tamiḻar, translit-std=ISO, in the singular or ta, தமிழர்கள், Tamiḻarkaḷ, translit-std=ISO, label=none, in the plural), or simply Tamils (), are a Dravi ...
, who are a large minority group, have also played an influential role in the island's history. Other long established groups include the
Moors '' of Alfonso X, c. 1285 The term Moor is an Endonym and exonym, exonym first used by Christian Europeans to designate the Muslims, Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors init ...
, the Burghers, the Malays,
the Chinese Chinese people are people or ethnic groups identified with Greater China, China, usually through ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, or other affiliation. The Han Chinese are the largest ethnic group in China, comprising approximately 92% of ...
, and the indigenous
Vedda The Vedda ( si, වැද්දා , ta, வேடர் ''Vēdar''), or Wanniyalaeto, are a minority indigenous group of people in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO; ta, இ ...
. The island has had a long history of engagement with modern international groups: it is a founding member of the
SAARC The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, g ...
and a member of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
, the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the ...

Commonwealth of Nations
, the G77, and the
Non-Aligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world Image:Imf-advanced-un-least-developed-2008.svg, 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the International Monetary Fund, IMF and the United Nations, UN from 2008 A deve ...
. Sri Lanka is the highest ranked South Asian nation on the
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and ot ...
, and has the second highest
per capita income Per capita income (PCI) or total income measures the average income earned per person in a given area (city, region, country, etc.) in a specified year. It is calculated by dividing the area's total income by its total population. Per capita i ...
in South Asia.


Toponymy

In antiquity, Sri Lanka was known to travellers by a variety of names. According to the '' Mahavamsa'', the legendary
Prince Vijaya Prince Vijaya ( si, විජය කුමරු) was the traditional first Sinhalese king of Sri Lanka, mentioned in the Pali chronicles, including '' Mahavamsa''. According to these chronicles, he is the first recorded King of Sri Lanka. His ...
named the island
Tambapanni
Tambapanni
(' copper-red hands' or 'copper-red earth'), because his followers' hands were reddened by the
red soil Red soil is a type of soil Soil (often stylized as SOiL) is an American rock band that was formed in Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates ...
of the area where he landed. In
Hindu mythology Hindu mythology is a body of myths found in Hindu texts such as the Vedas, Vedic literature, Sanskrit epics, epics like ''Mahabharata'' and ''Ramayana'', the Puranas, and regional literature like the Tamil language, Tamil ''Periya Puranam'' an ...
, the term
''Lankā''
''Lankā''
('Island') appears but its unknown whether it refers to the modern day state. But scholars generally agree that it must have been Sri Lanka because it is so stated in the 5th century Sri Lankan text Mahavamsa. The Tamil term
Eelam Eelam ( ta, ஈழம், ''īḻam'', , also spelled Eezham, Ilam or Izham in English) is the native Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil peop ...
() was used to designate the whole island in Sangam literature. The island was known under Chola rule as ''Mummudi Cholamandalam'' ('realm of the three crowned Cholas').
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
geographers called it '' Taprobanā'' ( grc, Ταπροβανᾶ) or ''Taprobanē'' () from the word ''Tambapanni''. The Persians and Arabs referred to it as ''Sarandīb'' (the origin of the word "
serendipity Serendipity is an unplanned fortunate discovery. Serendipity is a common occurrence throughout the history of product invention and scientific discovery. Serendipity is also seen as a potential design principle for online activities that would pr ...

serendipity
") from
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
''Siṃhaladvīpaḥ''. ''Ceilão'', the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese Empire when it arrived in 1505, was transliterated into English as Ceylon. As a British
crown colony A Crown colony or royal colony was a colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of the original coun ...
, the island was known as Ceylon; it achieved independence as the
Dominion of Ceylon Between 1948 and 1972, Ceylon The Sri Lanka Independence Act 1947 uses the name "Ceylon" for the new dominion; nowhere does that Act use the term "Dominion of Ceylon", which although sometimes used was not the official name. was an independent ...
in 1948. The country is now known in Sinhala as ' ( si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා) and in Tamil as ' ( ta, இலங்கை, ). In 1972, its formal name was changed to "Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka". Later, on 7 September 1978, it was changed to the "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka". As the name Ceylon still appears in the names of a number of organisations, the Sri Lankan government announced in 2011 a plan to rename all those over which it has authority.


History


Prehistoric Sri Lanka

The pre-history of Sri Lanka goes back 125,000 years and possibly even as far back as 500,000 years. The era spans the
Palaeolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek wikt:παλαιός, palaios - old, wikt:λίθος, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone too ...
,
Mesolithic The Mesolithic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

Mesolithic
, and early
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
s. Among the
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
human settlements discovered in Sri Lanka, Pahiyangala (named after the
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...

Chinese
traveller
monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (f ...
Faxian Faxian (337 CE – c. 422 CE), also referred to as Fa-Hien, Fa-hsien and Sehi, was a Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the ...
), which dates back to 37,000 BP,
Batadombalena Batadombalena is an archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists a ...

Batadombalena
(28,500 BP) and
Belilena Belilena is a well known large cave in Sri Lanka, located from the town of Kitulgala. Evidence of prehistoric human presence as early as 32,000 years ago was recorded at the site. The skeletal remains of ten individuals were discovered by Paul E. ...
(12,000 BP) are the most important. In these caves, archaeologists have found the remains of
anatomically
anatomically
modern
humans Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species ...
which they have named
Balangoda Man Balangoda Man refers to Hominini, hominins from Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka's late Quaternary period. The term was initially coined to refer to Anatomically modern humans, anatomically modern ''Homo sapiens'' from sites near Balangoda that were responsible ...
, and other evidence suggesting that they may have engaged in
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
and kept domestic dogs for driving game. The earliest inhabitants of Sri Lanka were probably ancestors of the
Vedda people The Vedda ( si, වැද්දා , ta, வேடர் ''Vēdar''), or Wanniyalaeto, are a minority Indigenous peoples, indigenous group of people in Sri Lanka who, among other sub-communities such as Coast Veddas, Anuradhapura Veddas and Bi ...
, an indigenous people numbering approximately 2,500 living in modern-day Sri Lanka. During the protohistoric period (1000–500 BCE) Sri Lanka was culturally united with southern India, and shared the same megalithic burials,
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with and other materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include , and . The place where such wares are mad ...
, iron technology, farming techniques and megalithic graffiti. This cultural complex spread from southern India along with Dravidian clans such as the
Velir The Velir is tamil name for vrishni The Vrishnis were an ancient vedic India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most ...
, prior to the migration of
Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, ...
speakers. One of the first written references to the island is found in the Indian
epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film with heroic elements Epic or EPIC may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media ...
Ramayana ''Rāmāyana'' (; sa, रामायणम्, ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India and important text of Hinduism, the other being the ''Mahabharata, Mahābhārata''. The epi ...

Ramayana
, which provides details of a kingdom named ''
Lanka Lanka (, ) is the name given in Hindu Hindus () are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It i ...

Lanka
'' that was created by the divine sculptor
Vishwakarma Vishwakarma or Vishvakarman ( sa, विश्वकर्मा, Viśvakarmā, all maker) is a craftsman deity and the divine architect of the gods in contemporary Hinduism. In the early texts, the craftsman deity was known as Tvastar and the ...

Vishwakarma
for
Kubera Kubera ( sa, कुबेर) also known as Kuvera, Kuber or Kuberan, is the god of wealth and the god-king of the semi-divine Yakshas in Hindu culture. He is regarded as Guardians of the directions, the regent of the North (''Dik-pala''), a ...

Kubera
, the Lord of Wealth. It is said that Kubera was overthrown by his demon stepbrother
Ravana Ravana (;, , ) was a king of the island Lanka and the chief antagonist in the Hindu epic ''Ramayana'' and its adaptations. In the Ramayana, Ravana is described to be the eldest son of sage Vishrava and Rakshasi Kaikesi. He abducted lord Rama ...

Ravana
.


Ancient Sri Lanka

According to the '' Mahāvamsa'', a
Pāḷi Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language A sacred language, "holy language" (in religious context) or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ...
chronicle written in the 5th century CE, the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka are said to be the
Yaksha The yakshas ( sa, यक्ष ; pi, yakkha, i=yes) are a broad class of nature-spirits, usually benevolent, but sometimes mischievous or capricious, connected with water, fertility, trees, the forest, treasure and wilderness. They appear in ...

Yaksha
s and
NagasNagas may refer to the following: *Ken Nagas, Australian rugby league footballer *Naga people, the modern Sino-Tibetan ethnic group. *Nāga, serpent deities in Indian mythology *Naga Rajputs, a caste of India *Nagas of Padmavati, a dynasty of ancien ...
. Ancient cemeteries that were used before 600
BCE Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by as a modification of the , reducing the average year from 365.2 ...
and other signs of advanced civilisation have also been discovered in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese history traditionally starts in 543 BCE with the arrival of
Prince Vijaya Prince Vijaya ( si, විජය කුමරු) was the traditional first Sinhalese king of Sri Lanka, mentioned in the Pali chronicles, including '' Mahavamsa''. According to these chronicles, he is the first recorded King of Sri Lanka. His ...
, a semi-legendary prince who sailed with 700 followers to Sri Lanka, after being expelled from
Vanga Kingdom Vanga was an ancient kingdom and geopolitical division within the Ganges delta in the Indian subcontinent. The kingdom is one of the namesakes of the Bengal region. It was located in southern Bengal, with the core region including present-day s ...
(present-day
Bengal Bengal (; bn, বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit=Bānglā/Bôngô, ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region located in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, p ...

Bengal
). He established the
Kingdom of Tambapanni The Kingdom of Tambapaṇṇī ( Sinhala: , translit: Tambapaṇṇī Rājadhāniya) was the first Sinhalese kingdom in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO; ta, இலங்கை, ...

Kingdom of Tambapanni
, near modern-day Mannar. Vijaya (Singha) is the first of the approximately 189 monarchs of Sri Lanka described in chronicles such as the '' Dipavamsa'', ''Mahāvaṃsa'', '' Cūḷavaṃsa'', and ''Rājāvaliya''. Once
Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, ...
speakers had attained dominance on the island, the Mahavamsa further recounts the later migration of royal brides and service castes from the Tamil
Pandya Kingdom The Pandya dynasty, also known as the Pandyas of Madurai, was a dynasty of south India, one of the three famous Tamil lineages, the other two being the Chola The Chola dynasty was a Tamil thalassocratic empire of southern India, one ...
to the
Anuradhapura Kingdom The Anuradhapura Kingdom ( Sinhala: , translit: Anurādhapura Rājadhāniya, Tamil: ), named for its capital city, was the first established kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅk ...

Anuradhapura Kingdom
in the early historic period. The
Anuradhapura period The Anuradhapura period was a period in the history of Sri Lanka of the Anuradhapura Kingdom from 377 BC to 1017 AD. The period begins when Pandukabhaya of Anuradhapura, Pandukabhaya, Kingdom of Upatissa Nuwara, King of Upatissa Nuwara moved the a ...
(377 BCE1017 CE) began with the establishment of the
Anuradhapura Kingdom The Anuradhapura Kingdom ( Sinhala: , translit: Anurādhapura Rājadhāniya, Tamil: ), named for its capital city, was the first established kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅk ...

Anuradhapura Kingdom
in 380 BCE during the reign of
Pandukabhaya Pandukabhaya (474 BC – 367 BC) was King of Upatissa Nuwara and the first monarch of the Anuradhapura Kingdom The Anuradhapura Kingdom ( Sinhala: , translit: Anurādhapura Rājadhāniya, Tamil: ), named for its capital city, was the firs ...
. Thereafter, Anuradhapura served as the capital city of the country for nearly 1,400 years. Ancient Sri Lankans excelled at building certain types of Ancient constructions of Sri Lanka, structures such as Sri Lankan irrigation network, tanks, Stupa, dagobas and palaces. Society underwent a major transformation during the reign of Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura, Devanampiya Tissa, with the arrival of Buddhism from India. In 250 BCE, Mahinda (Buddhist monk), Mahinda, a bhikkhu and the son of the Maurya Empire, Mauryan Emperor Ashoka arrived in Mihintale carrying the message of Buddhism. His mission won over the monarch, who embraced the faith and propagated it throughout the Sinhalese people, Sinhalese population. Succeeding kingdoms of Sri Lanka would maintain many schools of Buddhism, Buddhist schools and monasteries and support the propagation of Buddhism into other countries in Southeast Asia. Sri Lankan Bhikkhus studied in India's famous ancient Buddhist University of Nalanda, which was destroyed by Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, Bakhtiyar Khilji. It is probable that many of the scriptures from Nalanda are preserved in Sri Lanka's many monasteries and that the written form of the Tripiṭaka, including Sinhalese Buddhist literature, were part of the University of Nalanda. In 245 BCE, bhikkhuni Sanghamitta arrived with the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree, which is considered to be a sapling from the historical Bodhi Tree under which Gautama Buddha became enlightened. It is considered the oldest human-planted tree (with a continuous historical record) in the world. (Bodhi Vamsa, Bodhivamsa) Sri Lanka experienced the first of many foreign invasions during the reign of Suratissa of Anuradhapura, Suratissa, who was defeated by two horse traders named Sena and Guttika from South India. The next invasion came immediately in 205 BCE by a Chola named Elara (monarch), Elara, who overthrew Asela of Anuradhapura, Asela and ruled the country for 44 years. Dutugamunu, the eldest son of the southern regional sub-king, Kavan Tissa, Prince of Ruhuna, Kavan Tissa, defeated Elara in the Battle of Vijithapura. During its two and a half millennia of existence, the Sinhala Kingdom was invaded at least eight times by neighbouring South Indian dynasties such as the Chola dynasty, Chola, Pandya dynasty, Pandya, Chera dynasty, Chera, and Pallava dynasty, Pallava. There also were incursions by the kingdoms of Kalinga (historical region), Kalinga (modern Odisha) and from the Malay Peninsula as well. The Fourth Buddhist Council of Theravada Buddhism was held at the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya in Sri Lanka under the patronage of Valagamba of Anuradhapura in 25 BCE. The council was held in response to a year in which the harvests in Sri Lanka were particularly poor and many bhikkhu, Buddhist monks subsequently died of starvation. Because the Pāli Canon was at that time oral literature maintained in several recensions by ''dhammabhāṇaka''s (dharma reciters), the surviving monks recognised the danger of not writing it down so that even if some of the monks whose duty it was to study and remember parts of the Canon for later generations died, the teachings would not be lost. After the council, palm-leaf manuscripts containing the completed Canon were taken to other countries such as Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Sri Lanka was the first Asian country known to have a female ruler: Anula of Anuradhapura (r. 47–42 BCE). Sri Lankan monarchs undertook some remarkable construction projects such as Sigiriya, the so-called "Fortress in the Sky", built during the reign of Kashyapa I of Anuradhapura, who ruled between 477 and 495. The Sigiriya rock fortress is surrounded by an extensive network of ramparts and moats. Inside this protective enclosure were gardens, ponds, pavilions, palaces and other structures. In 993 CE, the invasion of Chola dynasty, Chola emperor Rajaraja I forced the then Sinhalese ruler Mahinda V of Anuradhapura, Mahinda V to flee to the southern part of Sri Lanka. Taking advantage of this situation, Rajendra Chola I, Rajendra I, son of Rajaraja I, launched a large invasion in 1017. Mahinda V was captured and taken to India, and the Cholas Chola conquest of Anuradhapura, sacked the city of Anuradhapura causing the fall of
Anuradhapura Kingdom The Anuradhapura Kingdom ( Sinhala: , translit: Anurādhapura Rājadhāniya, Tamil: ), named for its capital city, was the first established kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅk ...

Anuradhapura Kingdom
. Subsequently, they moved the capital to Polonnaruwa.


Post-classical Sri Lanka

Following a seventeen-year-long campaign, Vijayabahu I of Polonnaruwa, 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 into three sub-territories, namely Principality of Ruhuna, Ruhunu, Pihiti and Maya Rata, Maya. Sri Lanka's Sri Lankan irrigation network, irrigation system was extensively expanded during the reign of Parakramabahu I of Polonnaruwa, Parākramabāhu the Great (1153–1186). This period is considered as a time when Sri Lanka was at the height of its power. He built 1,470 reservoirs – the highest number by any ruler in Sri Lanka's history – repaired 165 dams, 3,910 canals, 163 major reservoirs, and 2,376 mini-reservoirs. His most famous construction is the Parakrama Samudra, 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, Burma) for various perceived insults to Sri Lanka. After his demise, Sri Lanka gradually decayed in power. In 1215, Kalinga Magha, an invader with uncertain origins, identified as the founder of the Jaffna kingdom, invaded and captured the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa. He sailed from Kalinga (historical region), Kalinga 690 nautical miles on 100 large ships with a 24,000 strong army. Unlike previous invaders, he Looting, looted, 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 as possible. His reign saw the massive migration of native Sinhalese people to the south and west of Sri Lanka, and into the mountainous interior, in a bid to escape his power.Nadarajan, V ''History of Ceylon Tamils'', p. 72Indrapala, K ''Early Tamil Settlements in Ceylon'', p. 16 Sri Lanka never really recovered from the impact of Kalinga Magha's invasion. King Vijayabâhu III, who led the resistance, brought the kingdom to Kingdom of Dambadeniya, Dambadeniya. The north, in the meanwhile, eventually evolved into the Jaffna kingdom. The Jaffna kingdom never came under the rule of any kingdom of the south except on one occasion; in 1450, following the conquest led by king Parakramabahu VI of Kotte, Parâkramabâhu VI's adopted son, Bhuvanaikabahu VI of Kotte, Prince Sapumal. He ruled the North from 1450 to 1467 CE. The next three centuries starting from 1215 were marked by kaleidoscopically shifting collections of capitals in south and central Sri Lanka, including Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, Gampola, Raigama, Kingdom of Kotte, Kotte,Codrington
Ch. 6
/ref> Kingdom of Sitawaka, Sitawaka, and finally, Kingdom of Kandy, Kandy. Chinese admiral Zheng He and his naval expeditionary force landed at Galle, Sri Lanka in 1409 and got into Ming-Kotte War, battle with the local king Vira Alakesvara of Gampola. Zheng He captured King Vira Alakesvara and later released him. Zheng He erected the Galle Trilingual Inscription, a stone tablet at Galle written in three languages (Chinese language, Chinese, Tamil language, Tamil, and Persian language, Persian), to commemorate his visit. The stele was discovered by S. H. Thomlin at Galle in 1911 and is now preserved in the National Museum of Colombo, Colombo National Museum.


Early Modern Sri Lanka

The early modern period of Sri Lanka begins with the arrival of Portugal, Portuguese soldier and explorer Lourenço de Almeida, the son of Francisco de Almeida, in 1505. In 1517, the Portuguese built a fort at the port city of
Colombo Colombo ( si, කොළඹ, translit=Koḷam̆ba, ; ta, கொழும்பு, translit=Koḻumpu, ) is the commercial capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction betwe ...

Colombo
and gradually extended their control over the coastal areas. In 1592, after decades of intermittent warfare with the Portuguese, Vimaladharmasuriya I of Kandy, Vimaladharmasuriya I moved his kingdom to the inland city of Kingdom of Kandy, Kandy, a location he thought more secure from attack. In 1619, succumbing to attacks by the Portuguese, the independent existence of the Jaffna kingdom came to an end. During the reign of the Rajasinha II of Kandy, Rajasinha II, Dutch people, Dutch explorers arrived on the island. In 1638, the king signed a Kandyan Treaty of 1638, treaty with the Dutch East India Company to get rid of the Portuguese who ruled most of the coastal areas. The following Dutch–Portuguese War resulted in a Dutch victory, with Colombo falling into Dutch hands by 1656. The Dutch remained in the areas they had captured, thereby violating the treaty they had signed in 1638. The Burgher people, a distinct ethnic group, emerged as a result of intermingling between the Dutch and native Sri Lankans in this period. The Kingdom of Kandy was the last independent monarchy of Sri Lanka. In 1595, Vimaladharmasurya brought the sacred Relic of the tooth of the Buddha, Tooth Relic – the traditional symbol of royal and religious authority amongst the
Sinhalese Sinhala may refer to: * Something of or related to the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka * Sinhalese people * Sinhala language, one of the three official languages used in Sri Lanka * Sinhala script, a writing system for the Sinhala language ** Sinhala ...
– to Kandy, and built the Temple of the Tooth. In spite of on-going intermittent warfare with Europeans, the kingdom survived. Later, a crisis of succession emerged in Kandy upon king Vira Narendra Sinha of Sri Lanka, Vira Narendrasinha's death in 1739. He was married to a Telugu language, Telugu-speaking Nayaks of Madurai, Nayakkar princess from South India (Madurai) and was childless by her. Eventually, with the support of bhikku Weliwita Sarankara, the crown passed to the brother of one of Narendrasinha's princesses, overlooking the right of ''"Unambuwe Bandara"'', Narendrasinha's own son by a Sinhalese Concubinage, concubine. The new king was crowned Vijaya Rajasinha of Kandy, Sri Vijaya Rajasinha later that year. Kings of the Nayakkar dynasty launched several attacks on Dutch controlled areas, which proved to be unsuccessful. During the Napoleonic Wars, fearing that French control of the Netherlands might deliver Sri Lanka to the French, Great Britain occupied the coastal areas of the island (which they geographical renaming, called Ceylon) with little difficulty in 1796. Two years later, in 1798, Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha of Kandy, Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha, third of the four Nayakkar kings of Sri Lanka, died of a fever. Following his death, a nephew of Rajadhi Rajasinha, eighteen-year-old Kannasamy, was crowned. The young king, now named Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, faced a
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...

British
invasion in 1803 but successfully retaliated. The First Kandyan War ended in a stalemate. By then the entire coastal area was under the British East India Company as a result of the Treaty of Amiens. On 14 February 1815, Kingdom of Kandy, Kandy was occupied by the British in the Kandyan Wars, second Kandyan War, ending Sri Lanka's independence. Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, the last native monarch of Sri Lanka, was exiled to India. The Kandyan Convention formally ceded the entire country to the British Empire. Attempts by Sri Lankan noblemen to undermine British power in 1818 during the Great Rebellion of 1817–1818, Uva Rebellion were thwarted by British governors of Ceylon, Governor Robert Brownrigg. The beginning of the modern period of Sri Lanka is marked by the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission, Colebrooke-Cameron reforms of 1833. They introduced a Utilitarianism, utilitarian and Liberalism, liberal political culture to the country based on the rule of law and amalgamated the Kandyan and maritime provinces as a single unit of government. An Executive Council of Ceylon, executive council and a Legislative Council of Ceylon, legislative council were established, later becoming the foundation of a representative legislature. By this time, experiments with coffee plantations were largely successful. Soon, coffee became the primary commodity export of Sri Lanka. Falling coffee prices as a result of the Panic of 1847, depression of 1847 stalled economic development and prompted the governor to introduce a series of taxes on firearms, dogs, shops, boats, etc., and to reintroduce a form of ''rajakariya'', requiring six days free labour on roads or payment of a cash equivalent. These harsh measures antagonised the locals, and Matale Rebellion, another rebellion broke out in 1848. A devastating leaf disease, ''Hemileia vastatrix'', struck the coffee plantations in 1869, destroying the entire industry within fifteen years. The British quickly found a replacement: abandoning coffee, they began cultivating tea instead. Tea production in Sri Lanka thrived in the following decades. Large-scale rubber plantations began in the early 20th century. By the end of the 19th century, a new educated social class transcending race and caste arose through British attempts to staff the Ceylon Civil Service and the legal, educational, engineering, and medical professions with natives. New leaders represented the various ethnic groups of the population in the Legislative Council of Ceylon, Ceylon Legislative Council on a communal basis. Buddhist and Hindu revivalism reacted against Mission (Christianity), Christian missionary activities. The first two decades in the 20th century are noted by the unique harmony among Sinhalese and Tamils, Tamil political leadership, which has since been lost. The 1906 malaria outbreak in Ceylon actually started in the early 1900s, but the first case was documented in 1906. In 1919, major Sinhalese and Tamil political organisations united to form the Ceylon National Congress, under the leadership of Ponnambalam Arunachalam, pressing colonial masters for more constitutional reforms. But without massive popular support, and with the governor's encouragement for "communal representation" by creating a "Colombo seat" that dangled between Sinhalese and Tamils, the Congress lost momentum towards the mid-1920s. The Donoughmore Constitution, Donoughmore reforms of 1931 repudiated the communal representation and introduced Universal suffrage, universal adult franchise (the franchise stood at 4% before the reforms). This step was strongly criticised by the Tamil political leadership, who realised that they would be reduced to a minority in the newly created State Council of Ceylon, which succeeded the legislative council. In 1937, Tamil leader G. G. Ponnambalam 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 Commission, Soulbury reforms of 1944–45.


Contemporary Sri Lanka

The Soulbury constitution ushered in Dominion of Ceylon, dominion status, with independence proclaimed on 4 February 1948. Don Stephen Senanayake, D. S. Senanayake became the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Prime Minister of Ceylon. Prominent Tamils, Tamil leaders including Ponnambalam and Arunachalam Mahadeva joined his cabinet. The Royal Navy, British Royal Navy remained stationed at Trincomalee until 1956. A countrywide 1953 Ceylonese Hartal, popular demonstration against withdrawal of the rice rations resulted in the resignation of prime minister Dudley Senanayake. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was elected prime minister in 1956. His three-year rule had a profound impact through his self-proclaimed role of "defender of the besieged Sinhalese culture". He introduced the controversial Sinhala Only Act, recognising Sinhala language, Sinhala as the only official language of the government. Although partially reversed in 1958, the bill posed a grave concern for the Tamil community, which perceived in it a threat to their language and culture. The Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi, Federal Party (FP) launched a movement of non-violent resistance (satyagraha) against the bill, which prompted Bandaranaike to reach an agreement (Bandaranaike–Chelvanayakam Pact) with S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, leader of the FP, to resolve the looming ethnic conflict. The pact proved ineffective in the face of ongoing protests by opposition and the Buddhist clergy. The bill, together with various government Sri Lankan state-sponsored colonisation schemes, colonisation schemes, contributed much towards the political rancour between Sinhalese and Tamil political leaders. Bandaranaike was S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike#Assassination, assassinated by an extremist Buddhist monk in 1959. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the widow of Bandaranaike, took office as prime minister in 1960, and withstood an 1962 Ceylonese coup d'état attempt, attempted coup d'état in 1962. During her second term as prime minister, the government instituted socialist economic policies, strengthening ties with the Soviet Union and China, while promoting a policy of non-alignment. In 1971, Ceylon experienced a 1971 JVP insurrection, Marxist insurrection, which was quickly suppressed. In 1972, the country became a
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
named Sri Lanka, repudiating its dominion status. Prolonged minority grievances and the use of communal emotionalism as an election campaign weapon by both Sinhalese and Tamil leaders abetted a fledgling Tamil militancy in the north during the 1970s. The policy of standardisation by the Sirimavo government to rectify disparities created in university enrolment, which was in essence an affirmative action to assist geographically disadvantaged students to obtain tertiary education, resulted in reducing the proportion of Tamil students at university level and acted as the immediate catalyst for the rise of militancy. The assassination of Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiyappah in 1975 by the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ( ta, தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள், translit=Tamiḻīḻa viṭutalaip pulikaḷ, si, දම්ළ ඊළාම් විමුක්ති කොටි, t ...
(LTTE) marked a crisis point. The government of J. R. Jayawardene swept to power in 1977, defeating the largely unpopular United Front (Sri Lanka), United Front government. Jayawardene introduced a Constitution of Sri Lanka, new constitution, together with a free-market economy and a powerful Executive president, executive presidency modelled after that of France. It made Sri Lanka the first
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri La ...

South Asia
n country to Liberalism, liberalise its economy. Beginning in 1983, ethnic tensions were manifested in an Sri Lankan Civil War, on-and-off insurgency against the government by the LTTE. An LTTE attack on 13 soldiers resulted in the anti-Tamil Black July, race riots in July 1983, allegedly backed by Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism, Sinhalese hard-line ministers, which resulted in more than 150,000 Tamil civilians fleeing the island, seeking asylum in other countries. Lapses in foreign policy resulted in India strengthening the Tigers by providing arms and training. In 1987, the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord was signed and the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was deployed in northern Sri Lanka to stabilise the region by neutralising the LTTE. The same year, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, JVP launched its 1987–89 JVP Insurrection, second insurrection in Southern Sri Lanka, necessitating redeployment of the IPKF in 1990. In October 1990, the LTTE Expulsion of Muslims from the Northern province by LTTE, expelled Sri Lankan Moors (Muslims by religion) from northern Sri Lanka. In 2002, the Sri Lankan government and LTTE signed a Norwegian-mediated ceasefire agreement. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, 2004 Asian tsunami killed over 30,000 in Sri Lanka. From 1985 to 2006, the Sri Lankan government and Tamil insurgents held four rounds of peace talks without success. Both LTTE and the government resumed fighting in 2006, and the government officially backed out of the ceasefire in 2008. In 2009, under the President of Sri Lanka, Presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the
Sri Lanka Armed Forces The Sri Lanka Armed Forces is the overall unified military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintaine ...
defeated the LTTE and re-established control of the entire country by the Sri Lankan Government. Overall, between 60,000 and 100,000 people were killed during the 26 years of conflict.


Geography

Sri Lanka is a pearl-shaped Island nation in South Asia, lying on the Indian Plate, a major plate tectonics, tectonic plate that was formerly part of the Indo-Australian Plate. It is in the Indian Ocean southwest of the
Bay of Bengal The Bay of Bengal is the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water on Earth's surface. It is bounded by Asia to the north, Africa to th ...

Bay of Bengal
, between latitudes 5th parallel north, 5° and 10th parallel north, 10° N, and longitudes 79th meridian east, 79° and 82nd meridian east, 82° E. Sri Lanka is separated from the mainland portion of the Indian subcontinent by the
Gulf of Mannar The Gulf of Mannar ( ) is a large shallow bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such as an ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt wa ...
and
Palk Strait The Palk Strait ( ta, பாக்கு நீரிணை) is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies betw ...
. According to
Hindu mythology Hindu mythology is a body of myths found in Hindu texts such as the Vedas, Vedic literature, Sanskrit epics, epics like ''Mahabharata'' and ''Ramayana'', the Puranas, and regional literature like the Tamil language, Tamil ''Periya Puranam'' an ...
, Adam's Bridge, a land bridge existed between the Indian mainland and Sri Lanka. It now amounts to only a chain of limestone shoals remaining above sea level. Legends claim that it was passable on foot up to 1480 CE, until cyclones deepened the channel. Portions are still as shallow as , hindering navigation. The island consists mostly of flat to rolling coastal plains, with mountains rising only in the south-central part. The highest point is Pidurutalagala, reaching above sea level. Sri Lanka has 103 rivers. The longest of these is the Mahaweli River, extending . These waterways give rise to 51 natural waterfalls of or more. The highest is Bambarakanda Falls, with a height of . Sri Lanka's coastline is long. Sri Lanka claims an exclusive economic zone extending 200 nautical miles, which is approximately 6.7 times Sri Lanka's land area. The coastline and adjacent waters support highly productive marine ecosystems such as Fringing reef, fringing coral reefs and shallow beds of coastal and Estuary, estuarine seagrasses. Sri Lanka has 45 Estuary, estuaries and 40 lagoons. Sri Lanka's mangrove ecosystem spans over 7,000 hectares and played a vital role in buffering the force of the waves in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The island is rich in minerals such as ilmenite, feldspar, graphite, silica, kaolin, mica and thorium. Existence of petroleum and gas in the Gulf of Mannar has also been confirmed, and the extraction of recoverable quantities is underway.


Climate

The climate is Tropical climate, tropical and warm, because of moderating effects of ocean winds. Mean temperatures range from in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, central highlands, where frost may occur for several days in the winter, to a maximum of in low-altitude areas. Average yearly temperatures range from to nearly . Day and night temperatures may vary by to . The rainfall pattern is influenced by monsoon 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 of rain each year, but the leeward slopes in the east and northeast receive little rain. Most of the east, southeast, and northern parts of Sri Lanka comprise the "dry zone", which receives between of rain annually. The arid northwest and southeast coasts receive the least rain at per year. Periodic squalls occur and sometimes tropical cyclones 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. An increase in average rainfall coupled with heavier rainfall events has resulted in recurrent flooding and related damages to infrastructure, utility supply and the urban economy.


Flora and fauna

Western Ghats of India and Sri Lanka were included among the first 18 global biodiversity hotspots due to high levels of species endemism. The number of biodiversity hotspots has now increased to 34. Sri Lanka has the highest biodiversity per unit area among Asian countries for flowering plants and all vertebrate groups except birds. A remarkably high proportion of the species among its flora and fauna, 27% of the 3,210 flowering plants and 22% of the mammals, are Endemism, endemic. Sri Lanka supports a rich avifauna of that stands at 453 species and this include 240 species of birds that are known to bread in the country. List of endemic birds of Sri Lanka, 33 species are accepted by some ornithologists as endemic while some ornithologists consider only 27 are endemic and the remaining six are considered as proposed endemics. Sri Lanka's protected areas are administrated by two government bodies; The Department of Forest Conservation (Sri Lanka), Department of Forest Conservation and the Department of Wildlife Conservation (Sri Lanka), Department of Wildlife Conservation. Department of Wildlife Conservation administrates 61 wildlife sanctuaries, 22 national parks, four nature reserves, three strict nature reserves, and one jungle corridor while Department of Forest Conservation oversees 65 conservation forests and one national heritage wilderness area. 26.5% of the country's land area is legally protected. This is a higher percentage of protected areas when compared to the rest of Asia. Sri Lanka contains four terrestrial ecoregions: Sri Lanka lowland rain forests, Sri Lanka montane rain forests, Sri Lanka dry-zone dry evergreen forests, and Deccan thorn scrub forests. Flowering acacias flourish on the arid Jaffna Peninsula. Among the trees of the dry-land forests are valuable species such as Chloroxylon, satinwood, ebony, Mesua ferrea, ironwood, mahogany and teak. The wet zone is a tropical evergreen forest with tall trees, broad foliage, and a dense undergrowth of vines and creepers. Subtropical evergreen forests resembling those of temperate climates flourish in the higher altitudes. Yala National Park in the southeast protects herds of elephant, deer, and peacocks. The Wilpattu National Park in the northwest, the largest national park, preserves the habitats of many water birds such as storks, pelicans, ibis, and spoonbills. The island has four Nature reserve, biosphere reserves: Bundala National Park, Bundala, Hurulu Forest Reserve, the Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya, and Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sinharaja. Sinharaja is home to 26 endemic birds and 20 rainforest species, including the elusive red-faced malkoha, the green-billed coucal and the Sri Lanka blue magpie. The untapped genetic potential of Sinharaja flora is enormous. Of the 211 woody trees and lianas within the reserve, 139 (66%) are endemic. The total vegetation density, including trees, shrubs, herbs, and seedlings, has been estimated at 240,000 individuals per hectare. The Minneriya National Park borders the Minneriya Tank, which is an important source of water for elephants inhabiting the surrounding forests. Dubbed "The Gathering", the congregation of elephants can be seen on the tank-bed in the late dry season (August to October) as the surrounding water sources steadily disappear. The park also encompasses a range of micro-habitats which include classic dry zone tropical monsoonal evergreen forest, thick stands of giant bamboo, hilly pastures (patanas), and grasslands (talawas). During the Mahaweli Program of the 1970s and 1980s in northern Sri Lanka, the government set aside four areas of land totalling as national parks. Statistics of Sri Lanka's forest cover show rapid deforestation from 1956 to 2010. In 1956, 44.2 percent of the country's land area had forest cover. Forest cover depleted rapidly in recent decades; 29.6 percent in 1999, 28.7 percent in 2010.


Government and politics

Sri Lanka is a Democracy, democratic
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
and a unitary state which is governed by a semi-presidential system, with a mixture of a presidential system and a parliamentary system. Sri Lanka is the oldest democracy in Asia. Most provisions of the constitution can be amended by a Supermajority, two-thirds majority in Parliament of Sri Lanka, parliament. The amendment of Entrenched clause, 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 in a nationwide referendum. In common with many democracies, the Sri Lankan government has three branches: * Executive: The President of Sri Lanka is the head of state; the Commander-in-chief, commander in chief of the armed forces; head of government, and is popularly elected for a five-year term. The president heads the cabinet (government), cabinet and appoints minister (government), ministers from elected Member of parliament, members of parliament. The president is immune from legal proceedings while in office with respect to any acts done or omitted to be done by him or her in either an official or private capacity. Following passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, 19th amendment to the constitution in 2015, the president has two terms, which previously stood at no term limit. * Legislative: The Parliament of Sri Lanka is a Unicameralism, unicameral 225-member legislature with 196 members elected in multi-seat constituencies and 29 elected by proportional representation. Members are elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term. The president may summon, suspend, or end a legislative session and dissolve Parliament any time after four and a half years. The parliament reserves the power to make all laws. The president's deputy, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, prime minister, leads the ruling party in parliament and shares many executive responsibilities, mainly in domestic affairs. * Judicial: Sri Lanka's judiciary consists of a Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, Supreme Court – the highest and final superior court of record, a Court of Appeal, High Courts and a number of subordinate courts. The highly complex legal system reflects diverse cultural influences. Criminal law is based almost entirely on English law, British law. Basic civil law derives from Roman law and Law of the Netherlands, Dutch law. Laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, and inheritance are Common law, communal. Because of ancient customary practices and/or religion, the Sinhala customary law (Kandyan law), the Thesavalamai, and Sharia law are followed in 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 of Sri Lanka, chief justice and two Supreme Court judges, appoints, transfers, and dismisses lower court judges.


Politics

The current political culture in Sri Lanka is a contest between two rival coalitions led by the Centre-left politics, centre-left and Progressivism, progressive United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), an offspring of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), and the comparatively Right-wing politics, right-wing and pro-Capitalism, capitalist United National Party (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. Of these, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), established in 1935, is the oldest. The UNP, established by D. S. Senanayake in 1946, was until recently the largest single political party. It is the only political group which had representation in all parliaments since independence. SLFP was founded by S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike in July 1951. SLFP registered its first victory in 1956, defeating the ruling UNP in 1956 Ceylonese parliamentary election, 1956 Parliamentary election. Following the parliamentary election in July 1960 Ceylonese parliamentary election, July 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the prime minister and the world's first elected List of elected and appointed female heads of state and government, female head of government. G. G. Ponnambalam, the Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism, Tamil nationalist counterpart of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, founded the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) in 1944. Objecting to Ponnambalam's cooperation with D. S. Senanayake, a dissident group led by S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, S.J.V. Chelvanayakam broke away in 1949 and formed the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK), also known as the Federal Party, becoming the main Tamil political party in Sri Lanka for next two decades. The Federal Party advocated a more aggressive stance toward the Sinhalese. With the constitutional reforms of 1972, the ACTC and ITAK created the Tamil United Front (later Tamil United Liberation Front). Following a period of turbulence as Tamil militants rose to power in the late 1970s, these Tamil political parties were succeeded in October 2001 by the Tamil National Alliance. Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a Marxism–Leninism, Marxist–Leninist political party founded by Rohana Wijeweera in 1965, serves as a third force in the current political context. It endorses leftist policies which are more radical than the traditionalist leftist politics of the LSSP and the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, Communist Party. Founded in 1981, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is the largest Muslim political party in Sri Lanka. President Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the 2015 Sri Lankan presidential election, 2015 presidential elections, ending his ten-year presidency. However, his successor as Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena, decided not to seek re-election in 2019. The Rajapaksa family regain power in November 2019 Sri Lankan presidential election, 2019 presidential elections. The younger brother of Mahinda and former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the election, and he was sworn in as the new president of Sri Lanka. Their firm grip of power consolidated in 2020 Sri Lankan parliamentary election, parliamentary elections in August 2020. The family's political party Sri Lanka People's Front (known by its Sinhala initials SLPP) got a landslide victory and a clear majority in the parliament. Five members of the Rajapaksa family won a seat in the parliament. Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa became the new prime minister.


Administrative divisions

For administrative purposes, Sri Lanka is divided into nine Provinces of Sri Lanka, provinces and twenty-five Districts of Sri Lanka, districts.


Provinces

Provinces in Sri Lanka have existed since the 19th century, but they had no legal status until 1987 when the 13th Amendment of the 1978 constitution established provincial councils after several decades of increasing demand for a Devolution, decentralisation of the government. Each provincial council is an autonomous body not under the authority of any ministry. Some of its functions had been undertaken by central government ministries, departments, corporations, and statutory authorities, but authority over land and police is not as a rule given to provincial councils. Between 1989 and 2006, the Northern and Eastern provinces were temporarily merged to form the North Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, North-East Province. Prior to 1987, all administrative tasks for the provinces were handled by a district-based civil service which had been in place since colonial times. Now each province is administered by a directly elected provincial council:


Districts and local authorities

Each district is administered under a Government Agent (Sri Lanka), district secretariat. The districts are further subdivided into 256 Divisional Secretariats of Sri Lanka, divisional secretariats, and these 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, notably Matale and Uva. There are three other types of local authorities: municipal councils (18), urban councils (13) and pradeshiya sabha, also called pradesha sabhai (256). Local authorities were originally based on 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 are currently administered by a divisional secretary.


Foreign relations

Sri Lanka is a founding member of the
Non-Aligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world Image:Imf-advanced-un-least-developed-2008.svg, 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the International Monetary Fund, IMF and the United Nations, UN from 2008 A deve ...
(NAM). While ensuring that it maintains its independence, Sri Lanka has cultivated India–Sri Lanka relations, relations with India. Sri Lanka became a member of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
in 1955. Today, it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth, the
SAARC The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, g ...
, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, and the Colombo Plan. The United National Party has traditionally favoured links with the West, while the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has favoured links with the East. Sri Lankan Finance Minister J. R. Jayewardene, together with then Australian Foreign Minister Sir Percy Spencer, proposed the Colombo Plan at the Commonwealth Foreign Minister's Conference held in Colombo in 1950. At the Treaty of San Francisco, San Francisco Peace Conference in 1951, while many countries were reluctant, Sri Lanka argued for a free Japan and refused to accept payment of reparations for World War II damage because it believed it would harm Japan's economy. Sri Lanka-China relations started as soon as the People's Republic of China was formed in 1949. The two countries signed an important Rice-Rubber Pact in 1952. Sri Lanka played a vital role at the Asian–African Conference in 1955, which was an important step in the crystallisation of the NAM. The Bandaranaike government of 1956 significantly changed the pro-western policies set by the previous UNP government. It recognised Cuba under Fidel Castro in 1959. Shortly afterward, Cuba's revolutionary Che Guevara paid a visit to Sri Lanka. The Sirima–Shastri Pact, Sirima-Shastri Pact of 1964 and Sirima–Gandhi Pact, Sirima-Gandhi Pact of 1974 were signed between Sri Lankan and Indian leaders in an attempt to solve the Ceylon Citizenship Act, long-standing dispute over the status of Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka, plantation workers of Indian origin. In 1974, Katchatheevu, Kachchatheevu, a small island in
Palk Strait The Palk Strait ( ta, பாக்கு நீரிணை) is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies betw ...
, was formally ceded to Sri Lanka. By this time, Sri Lanka was strongly involved in the NAM, and the 5th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, fifth NAM summit was held in Colombo in 1976. The relationship between Sri Lanka and India became tense under the government of Junius Richard Jayewardene, J. R. Jayawardene. As a result, Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan Civil War, India intervened in the Sri Lankan Civil War and subsequently deployed an Indian Peace Keeping Force in 1987. In the present, Sri Lanka enjoys extensive relations with China, Russia, and Pakistan.


Military

The
Sri Lanka Armed Forces The Sri Lanka Armed Forces is the overall unified military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintaine ...
, comprising the Sri Lanka Army, the Sri Lanka Navy, and the Sri Lanka Air Force, come under the purview of the Ministry of Defence (Sri Lanka), Ministry of Defence. The total strength of the three services is around 346,000 personnel, with nearly 36,000 reserves. Sri Lanka has not enforced Conscription, military conscription. Paramilitary units include the Special Task Force (Sri Lanka), Special Task Force, the Sri Lanka Civil Security Force, Civil Security Force, and the Sri Lanka Coast Guard. Since independence in 1948, the primary focus of the armed forces has been internal security, crushing three major insurgencies, two by Marxism, Marxist militants of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, JVP and a 26-year-long conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE. The armed forces have been in a continuous mobilised state for the last 30 years. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces have engaged in
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
peacekeeping operations since the early 1960s, contributing forces to permanent contingents deployed in several UN peacekeeping missions in United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad, Chad, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Lebanon, and United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti, Haiti.


Economy

According to the International Monetary Fund, Sri Lanka's Gross domestic product, GDP in terms of purchasing power parity is the second highest in the South Asian region in terms of per capita income. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Sri Lanka became a plantation economy famous for its production and export of cinnamon, rubber, and Tea production in Sri Lanka, Ceylon tea, which remains a trademark national export. The Ministry of Ports and Aviation (Sri Lanka), development of modern ports under British rule raised the strategic importance of the island as a centre of trade. From 1948 to 1977, socialism strongly influenced the government's economic policies. Colonial plantations were dismantled, industries were nationalised, and a welfare state established. In 1977, the free market economy was introduced to the country, incorporating privatisation, deregulation, and the promotion of private enterprise. While the production and export of tea, rubber, coffee, sugar, and other commodities remain important, industrialisation has increased the importance of food processing, textiles, telecommunications, and finance. The country's main economic sectors are tourism, tea export, clothing, rice production, and other agricultural products. In addition to these economic sectors, overseas employment, especially in the Middle East, contributes substantially in foreign exchange. , the service sector makes up 60% of GDP, the industrial sector 28%, and the agriculture sector 12%. The private sector accounts for 85% of the economy. China, India and the United States are Sri Lanka's largest trading partners. Economic disparities exist between the provinces with the Western Province contributing 45.1% of the GDP and the Southern Province and the Central Province contributing 10.7% and 10%, respectively. With the end of the war, the Northern Province reported a record 22.9% GDP growth in 2010. The per capita income of Sri Lanka doubled from 2005 to 2011. During the same period, poverty dropped from 15.2% to 7.6%, unemployment rate dropped from 7.2% to 4.9%, market capitalisation of the Colombo Stock Exchange quadrupled, and the Government budget deficit, budget deficit doubled. Over 90% of the households in Sri Lanka are electrified; 87% 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 of 0.36 in 2010. The 2011 Global Competitiveness Report, published by the World Economic Forum, described Sri Lanka's economy as transitioning from the factor-driven stage to the efficiency-driven stage and that it ranked 52nd in global competitiveness. Also, out of the 142 countries surveyed, Sri Lanka ranked 45th in health and primary education, 32nd in business sophistication, 42nd in innovation, and 41st in goods market efficiency. In 2016, Sri Lanka ranked 5th in the World Giving Index, registering high levels of contentment and charitable behaviour in its society. In 2010, ''The New York Times'' placed Sri Lanka at the top of its list of 31 places to visit. S&P Dow Jones Indices classifies Sri Lanka as a Frontier markets, frontier market as of 2018. List of countries by Human Development Index, Sri Lanka ranks well above other South Asian countries in the
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and ot ...
(HDI) with an index of 0.750. By 2016, the country's debt soared as it was developing its infrastructure to the point of near bankruptcy which required a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) The IMF had agreed to provide a US$1.5 billion bailout loan in April 2016 after Sri Lanka provided a set of criteria intended to improve its economy. By the fourth quarter of 2016, the debt was estimated to be $64.9 billion. Additional debt had been incurred in the past by state-owned organisations and this was said to be at least $9.5 billion. Since early 2015, domestic debt increased by 12% and external debt by 25%. In November 2016, the IMF reported that the initial disbursement was larger than US$150 million originally planned, a full US$162.6 million (SDR 119.894 million). The agency's evaluation for the first tranche was cautiously optimistic about the future. Under the program Sri Lankan government implemented a new Inland Revenue Act and an automatic fuel pricing formula which were noted by the IMF in its fourth review. In 2018 China agreed to bail out Sri Lanka with a loan of $1.25 billion to deal with foreign debt repayment spikes in 2019 to 2021. According to the BBC, in September 2021 Sri Lanka is going through a major economic crisis. The Chief of its Central Bank has stepped down amid the crisis. The Parliament has declared emergency regulations due to the crisis, seeking to ban "food hoarding".


Transition to biological agriculture

In 2021 Sri Lanka started the first "100% organic farming" program and imposed a countrywide ban on inorganic fertilizers and pesticides in June 2021. The program was welcomed by its advisor Vandana Shiva, but ignored critical voices from scientific and farming community who warned about possible collapse of farming, including financial crisis due to devaluation of national currency pivoted around tea industry. The situation in tea industry was described as critical, with farming under the organic program being described as 10x more expensive and producing half of the yield by the farmers. In September 2021 the government announced "economic emergency", as the situation was further aggravated by falling national currency exchange rate, inflation rising as result of high food prices, and pandemic restrictions in tourism which further decreased country's income. Sri Lanka wants to transition to 100% biological agriculture; the trade in chemical fertilizers and pesticides has been banned. The government cancelled some of these measures, but importing urea remains banned.


Demographics

Sri Lanka has roughly 22,156,000 people and an annual population growth rate of 1.14%. The birth rate is 17.6 births per 1,000 people, and the Mortality rate, death rate is 6.2 deaths per 1,000 people. Population density is highest in western Sri Lanka, especially in and around the capital.
Sinhalese Sinhala may refer to: * Something of or related to the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka * Sinhalese people * Sinhala language, one of the three official languages used in Sri Lanka * Sinhala script, a writing system for the Sinhala language ** Sinhala ...
constitute the largest ethnic group in the country, with 74.8% of the total population. Sri Lankan Tamils are the second major ethnic group in the island, with a percentage of 11.2%.
Moors '' of Alfonso X, c. 1285 The term Moor is an Endonym and exonym, exonym first used by Christian Europeans to designate the Muslims, Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors init ...
comprise 9.2%. There are also small ethnic groups such as the Burgher people, Burghers (of mixed European descent) and Sri Lankan Malays, Malays from Southeast Asia. Moreover, there is a small population of
Vedda people The Vedda ( si, වැද්දා , ta, வேடர் ''Vēdar''), or Wanniyalaeto, are a minority Indigenous peoples, indigenous group of people in Sri Lanka who, among other sub-communities such as Coast Veddas, Anuradhapura Veddas and Bi ...
who are believed to be the original indigenous group to inhabit the island.


Languages

Sinhala language, Sinhala and Tamil language, Tamil are the two official languages. The constitution defines Sri Lankan English, English as the link language. English is widely used for education, scientific and commercial purposes. Members of the Burgher people, Burgher community speak variant forms of Portuguese Creole and Dutch with varying proficiency, while members of the Malay community speak a form of Creole language, Creole Sri Lanka Malay, Malay that is unique to the island.


Religion

Buddhism is the largest and is considered as an "Official religion" of Sri Lanka under Chapter II, Article 9, "The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana". Buddhism is practiced by 70.2% of the Sri Lankan's population with most being predominantly from Theravada school of thought. Most Buddhists are of the Sinhalese ethnic group with minority Tamils. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BCE by venerable Mahinda (buddhist monk), Mahinda Maurya. A sapling of the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment was brought to Sri Lanka during the same time. The Pāli Canon (''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 predominantly Buddhist nation. During periods of decline, the Sri Lankan monastic lineage was revived through contact with Thailand and Burma. Hinduism was the dominant religion in Sri Lanka before the arrival of Buddhism in the 3rd century BCE. Buddhism was introduced into Sri Lanka by Mahinda, the son of the Emperor Ashoka, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa. The Sinhalese embraced Buddhism and Tamils remain Hindus in Sri Lanka. However it was activity from across the
Palk Strait The Palk Strait ( ta, பாக்கு நீரிணை) is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies betw ...
that truly set the scene for Hinduism's survival in Sri Lanka. Shaivism (devotional worship of Lord Shiva) was the dominant branch practised by the Tamil peoples, thus most of the traditional Hindu temple architecture and philosophy of Sri Lanka drew heavily from this particular strand of Hinduism. Thirugnanasambanthar mentioned the names of a number of Sri Lankan Hindu temples in his works. Hinduism in Sri Lanka, Hinduism is the second most prevalent religion and predates Buddhism. Islam in Sri Lanka, Islam is the third most prevalent religion in the country, having first been brought to the island by Arab traders over the course of many centuries, starting around the 7th century CE. Most Muslims are Sunni Islam, Sunni who follow the Shafiʽi school, Shafi'i school. Most followers today are believed to be descendants of those Arab traders and the local women they married. Christianity in Sri Lanka, Christianity reached the country through Western colonists in the early 16th century. Around 7.4% of the Sri Lankan population are Christians, of whom 82% are Catholic Church, Roman Catholics who trace their religious heritage directly to the Portuguese. Tamil Catholics attribute their religious heritage to Francis Xavier, St. Francis Xavier as well as Portuguese missionaries. The remaining Christians are evenly split between the Church of Ceylon, Anglican Church of Ceylon and other Protestantism, Protestant denominations. There is also a small population of Zoroastrian immigrants from India (Parsis) who settled in Ceylon during the period of British rule, but this 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 each month according to the Lunar calendar, and Hindus and Muslims also observe their own holidays. In a 2008 Gallup poll, Sri Lanka was ranked the third most religious country in the world, with 99% of Sri Lankans saying religion was an important part of their daily life.


Largest cities


Health

Sri Lankans have a life expectancy of 77.9 years at birth, which is 10% higher than the world average. The infant mortality rate stands at 8.5 per 1,000 births and the maternal mortality rate at 0.39 per 1,000 births, which is on par with figures from developed countries. The universal "pro-poor" health care system adopted by the country has contributed much towards these figures. Sri Lanka ranks first among southeast Asian countries with respect to deaths by suicide, with 33 deaths per 100,000 persons. According to the Department of Census and Statistics, poverty, destructive pastimes, and inability to cope with stressful situations are the main causes behind the high suicide rates. On 8 July 2020, the World Health Organization declared that Sri Lanka had successfully eliminated rubella and measles ahead of their 2023 target.


Education

With a literacy rate of 92.5%, Sri Lanka has one of the most literate populations amongst developing nations. Its youth literacy rate stands at 98.8%, computer literacy rate at 35%, and primary school enrollment rate at over 99%. An education system which dictates 9 years of Compulsory education, compulsory schooling for every child is in place. The free education system 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 provide universal free education from primary to tertiary stage. Kannangara led the establishment of the Madhya 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 for the people. However, in the 1980s changes to this system separated the administration of schools between the central government and the provincial government. Thus the elite National school (Sri Lanka), national schools are controlled directly by the Ministry of Education (Sri Lanka), ministry of education and the provincial schools by the provincial government. Sri Lanka has approximately 9,675 government schools and 817 private schools and pirivenas. Sri Lanka has 17 public universities. A lack of responsiveness of the education system to labour 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, yet the participation at tertiary level education remains at 5.1%. Sri Lanka was ranked 101st in the Global Innovation Index in 2020, down from 89th in 2019. Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke served as chancellor of Moratuwa University from 1979 to 2002.


Transport

Sri Lanka has an extensive road network for inland transportation. With more than of paved roads, it has one of the highest road densities in the world ( of paved roads per every of land). The road network consists of 35 List of A-Grade highways in Sri Lanka, A-Grade highways and Expressways of Sri Lanka, four controlled-access highways. A and B grade roads are national (arterial) highways administered by Road Development Authority. C and D grade roads are provincial roads coming under the purview of the Provincial Road Development Authority of the respective province. The other roads are local roads falling under local government authorities. The Sri Lanka Railways, railway network, operated by the state-run National Railway operator Sri Lanka Railways, spans . Sri Lanka also has three deep-water ports at Port of Colombo, Colombo, Galle, and Trincomalee, in addition to the newest port being built at Ruhunu Magampura International Port, Hambantota.


Human rights and media

The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (formerly Radio Ceylon) is the oldest-running radio station in Asia, established in 1923 by Edward Harper (engineer), Edward Harper just three years after broadcasting began in Europe. The station broadcasts services in Sinhala, Tamil, English and Hindi. Since the 1980s, many private radio stations have also been introduced. Broadcast television was introduced in 1979 when the Independent Television Network was launched. Initially, all television stations were state-controlled, but private television networks began broadcasting in 1992. , 51 newspapers (30 Sinhala, 10 Tamil, 11 English) are published and 34 TV stations and 52 radio stations are in operation. In recent years, freedom of the press in Sri Lanka has been alleged by media freedom groups to be amongst the Press Freedom Index, poorest in democratic countries. Alleged abuse of a newspaper editor by a senior government minister achieved international notoriety because of the unsolved murder of the editor's predecessor, Lasantha Wickrematunge, who had been a critic of the government and had presaged his own death in a posthumously published article. Officially, the constitution of Sri Lanka guarantees human rights as ratified by the United Nations. However, human rights has come under criticism by Amnesty International, Freedom from Torture, Human Rights Watch, and the United States Department of State. British colonial rulers, the LTTE, and the government of Sri Lanka have been accused of violating human rights. A Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, report by an advisory panel to the UN secretary-general accused both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government of Alleged war crimes during the Sri Lankan Civil War, war crimes during final stages of the civil war. Corruption remains a problem in Sri Lanka, and there is little protection for those who stand up against corruption. The 135-year-old Article 365 of the Sri Lankan Penal Code criminalises LGBT rights in Sri Lanka, gay sex and provides for a penalty of up to ten years in prison. The United Nations Human Rights Council, UN Human Rights Council has documented Enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka, over 12,000 named individuals who have disappeared after detention by security forces in Sri Lanka, the second highest figure in the world since the Working Group came into being in 1980. The Sri Lankan government confirmed that 6,445 of these died. Allegations of human rights abuses have not ended with the close of the ethnic conflict. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay visited Sri Lanka in May 2013. After her visit, she said: "The war may have ended [in Sri Lanka], but in the meantime democracy has been undermined and the rule of law eroded." Pillay spoke about the military's increasing involvement in civilian life and reports of military land grabbing. She also said that, while in Sri Lanka, she had been allowed to go wherever she wanted, but that Sri Lankans who came to meet her were harassed and intimidated by security forces. In 2012, the UK charity Freedom from Torture reported that it had received 233 referrals of torture survivors from Sri Lanka for clinical treatment or other services provided by the charity. In the same year, the group published ''Out of the Silence'', which documents evidence of torture in Sri Lanka and demonstrates that the practice has continued long after the end of the civil war in 2009. On 29 July 2020, Human Rights Watch said that the Sri Lanka government has targeted lawyers, human rights defenders, and journalists to suppress criticism against the government.


Culture

The culture of Sri Lanka is influenced primarily by Buddhism and Hinduism. Sri Lanka is the home to two main traditional cultures: the Sinhalese (centred in Kandy and Anuradhapura) and the Tamil (centred in Jaffna). 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 Ancient constructions of Sri Lanka#Irrigation Works, hydraulic engineering and Architecture of ancient Sri Lanka, architecture. The British colonial culture has also influenced the locals. The rich cultural traditions shared by all Sri Lankan cultures is the basis of the country's long life expectancy, advanced health standards and high literacy rate.


Food and festivals

Dishes include rice and curry, puttu, pittu, kiribath, wholemeal roti, Idiyappam, string hoppers, wattalapam (a rich pudding of Malay origin made with coconut milk, jaggery, cashews, eggs, and spices including cinnamon and nutmeg), kottu, and appam. Jackfruit may sometimes replace rice. Traditionally food is served on a Plantain (cooking), plantain leaf or lotus leaf. Middle Eastern influences and practices are found in traditional Moor dishes, while Dutch and Portuguese influences are found with the island's Burgher community preserving their culture through traditional dishes such as lamprais (rice cooked in stock and baked in a banana leaf), breudher (Dutch holiday biscuit), and bolo fiado (Portuguese-style layer cake). In April, Sri Lankans celebrate the Sinhalese New Year, Buddhist and Tamil New Year, Hindu new year festivals. Esala Perahera is a symbolic Buddhist festival consisting of dances and decorated elephants held in Kandy in July and August. Fire dances, whip dances, Kandyan dances and various other cultural dances are integral parts of the festival. Christians celebrate Christmas on 25 December to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and Easter to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Tamils celebrate Thai Pongal and Maha Shivaratri, and Muslims celebrate Hajj and Ramadan.


Visual, literary and performing arts

The movie ''Kadawunu Poronduwa'' (''The Broken Promise''), produced by S. M. Nayagam of Chitra Kala Movietone, heralded the coming of Sri Lankan cinema in 1947. ''Ranmuthu Duwa'' (''Island of Treasures'') marked the transition cinema from black-and-white to colour. In recent years, movies have featured subjects such as family melodrama, social transformation and the years of conflict between the military and the LTTE. The Sri Lankan cinematic style is similar to Bollywood movies. In 1979, movie attendance rose to an all-time high, but has been in steady decline since then. An influential filmmaker is Lester James Peiris, who has directed a number of movies which led to global acclaim, including ''Rekava'' (''Line of Destiny'', 1956), ''Gamperaliya (film), Gamperaliya'' (''The Changing Village'', 1964), ''Nidhanaya'' (''The Treasure'', 1970) and ''Golu Hadawatha'' (''Cold Heart'', 1968). Sri Lankan-Canadian poet Rienzi Crusz, is the subject of a documentary on his life in Sri Lanka. His work is published in Sinhala and English. Naturalised Canadian Michael Ondaatje is well known for his English-language novels and three films. 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'', recorded in 1903, was released through Radio Ceylon. Songwriters like Mahagama Sekara and Ananda Samarakoon and musicians such as W. D. Amaradeva, Victor Ratnayake, Nanda Malini and Clarence Wijewardene have contributed much towards the progression of Sri Lankan music. Baila originated among Sri Lanka Kaffirs, Kaffirs or the Afro-Sinhalese community. There are three main styles of Sri Lankan classical dance. They are, the Kandyan dances, low country dances and Sabaragamuwa dances. Of these, the Kandyan style is most 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 dancers to keep on rhythm. The history of Sri Lankan painting and sculpture can be traced as far back as to the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. The earliest mention about the art of painting on Mahāvaṃsa, is to the drawing of a palace on cloth using cinnabar in the 2nd century BCE. The chronicles have a description of various paintings in relic-chambers of Buddhist stupas and in monastic residence. Theatre came to the country when a Parsi theatre company from Mumbai introduced ''Nurti'', a blend of European and Indian theatrical conventions to the Colombo audience in the 19th century. The golden age of Sri Lankan drama and theatre began with the staging of ''Maname'', a play written by Ediriweera Sarachchandra in 1956. It was followed by a series of popular dramas like ''Sinhabāhu'', ''Pabāvatī'', ''Mahāsāra'', ''Muudu Puththu'' and ''Subha saha Yasa''. Sri Lankan literature spans at least two millennia and is heir to the Aryan race, Aryan literary tradition as embodied in the hymns of the Rigveda. The Pāli Canon, the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, was written down in Sri Lanka during the Fourth Buddhist council, at the Alulena cave temple, Kegalle, as early as 29 BCE. Chronicles such as the ''Mahāvaṃsa'', written in the 6th century, provide vivid descriptions of Sri Lankan dynasties. According to the German philosopher Wilhelm Geiger, the chronicles are based on Sinhala Atthakatha (commentary). The oldest surviving prose work is the ''Dhampiya-Atuva-Getapadaya'', compiled in the 9th century CE. The greatest literary feats of medieval Sri Lanka include ''Sandesha Kāvya'' (poetic messages) such as ''Girā Sandeshaya'' (parrot message), ''Hansa Sandeshaya'' (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'' by Simon de Silva appeared in 1905 and was followed by several revolutionary literary works. Martin Wickramasinghe, the author of ''Madol Doova'' is considered the iconic figure of Sri Lankan literature.


Sport

While the national sport is volleyball, by far the most popular sport in the country is cricket. Rugby union also enjoys extensive popularity, as do association football, netball and tennis. Aquatic sports such as boating, surfing, swimming, kitesurfing and scuba diving attract many Sri Lankans and foreign tourists. There are two styles of martial arts native to Sri Lanka: Cheena di and Angampora. The Sri Lanka national cricket team achieved considerable success beginning in the 1990s, rising from underdog (competition), underdog status to winning the 1996 Cricket World Cup. They also won the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 played in Bangladesh, beating India in the final. In addition, Sri Lanka became the runners-up of the Cricket World Cup in 2007 Cricket World Cup, 2007 and 2011 Cricket World Cup Final, 2011, and of the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009 ICC World Twenty20, 2009 and 2012 ICC World Twenty20, 2012. Former Sri Lankan Off spin, off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has been rated as the greatest Test cricket, test match bowler (cricket), bowler ever by ''Wisden Cricketers' Almanack'', and four Sri Lankan cricketers ranked 2nd (Kumar Sangakkara, Sangakkara), 4th (Sanath Jayasuriya, Jayasuriya), 5th (Mahela Jayawardene, Jayawardene) and 11th (Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dilshan) highest ODI run scorers of all time, which is the second best by a team. Sri Lanka has won the Asia Cup in 1986 Asia Cup, 1986, 1997 Asia Cup, 1997, 2004 Asia Cup, 2004, 2008 Asia Cup, 2008 and 2014 Asia Cup, 2014. Sri Lanka once held highest team score in all three formats of cricket. The country co-hosted the Cricket World Cup in 1996 Cricket World Cup, 1996 and 2011 Cricket World Cup, 2011, and hosted the 2012 ICC World Twenty20. Sri Lankans have won two medals at Olympic Games: one silver, by Duncan White at 1948 Summer Olympics, 1948 London Olympics for men's 400 metres hurdles; and one silver by Susanthika Jayasinghe at 2000 Summer Olympics, 2000 Sydney Olympics for women's 200 metres. In 1973, Muhammad Lafir won the IBSF World Billiards Championship, World Billiards Championship, the highest feat by a Sri Lankan in a Cue sports, Cue sport. Sri Lanka has also won the Carrom World Championship titles twice in 2012, 2016 Carrom World Championship, 2016 and 2018, men's team becoming champions and women's team won second place.


See also

* Index of Sri Lanka-related articles * Outline of Sri Lanka * List of cities in Sri Lanka


References


Citations


Notes


Sources and further reading

* * * Ganguly, Sumit. "Ending the Sri Lankan civil war." ''Dædalus'' 147.1 (2018): 78–89
online
* * Peebles, Patrick. ''The History of Sri Lanka'' (Greenwood, 2005). * *


External links


Government


Official Sri Lankan Government Web Portal
a gateway to government sites.
Official website
of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
Official Government News Portal

Official website
of the President of Sri Lanka.
Official website
of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka / Prime Minister's Office (Sri Lanka), Prime Minister's Office.
Official website
of the Office of the Cabinet of Sri Lanka, Cabinet of Ministers of Sri Lanka.
Official website
of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.


Overviews and data


Sri Lanka
''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency.
Official site
of the Department of Census and Statistics.
Annual Report 2010
from the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

from ''UCB Libraries GovPubs''. *
Sri Lanka profile
from the BBC News.
Sri Lanka
in the Encyclopædia Britannica.
Introducing Sri Lanka
Overview of the country from Lonely Planet.
Key Development Forecasts for Sri Lanka
from International Futures.


History


Mahavamsa
an ancient Sri Lankan chronicle written in the 6th century.

by Sir James Emerson Tennent, 1861.


Maps

*
Sri Lanka Map
in Google Maps.
Old maps of Sri Lanka
Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, National Library of Israel, The National Library of Israel


Trade


World Bank Summary Trade Statistics Sri Lanka
{{Authority control Sri Lanka, Commonwealth republics Countries in Asia G15 nations Island countries of the Indian Ocean Island countries Member states of the Commonwealth of Nations Member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Member states of the United Nations Socialist states South Asian countries States and territories established in 1972 Tamil-speaking countries and territories