Brief History of Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka is an island nation off the southern coast of India. It was once known as the country of Ceylon. The first inhabitants arrived around 500 BC. Buddhism came to Sri Lanka in the mid-third century BC and had a large impact on the culture. The first great civilization to develop was at the city of Anuradhapura which ruled from 200 BC to 1000 AD. This was followed by Polonnaruwa until 1200. The island had contact over the years with many civilizations including the Romans and the Arabs.
In the 16th century the Portuguese arrived. They made settlements along the coast. The Dutch followed around 100 years later. In 1796 the British arrived and kicked out the Dutch. They made the island the British colony of Ceylon in 1815. The island was under British control until 1948 when Ceylon became an independent nation.
Ceylon began to adopt communism and made ties to the Soviet Union, however in 1972 it adopted a new constitution and became a republic. This was when the name of the country changed to Sri Lanka.
The Geography of Sri Lanka
Total Size: 65,610 square km
Size Comparison: slightly larger than West Virginia
Geographical Coordinates: 7 00 N, 81 00 E
World Region or Continent: Asia
General Terrain: mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior
Geographical Low Point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Geographical High Point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m
Climate: tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
Major cities: COLOMBO (capital) 681,000 (2009), Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia
The People of Sri Lanka
Type of Government: republic
Languages Spoken: Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%, other 8%
Independence: 4 February 1948 (from UK)
National Holiday: Independence Day, 4 February (1948)
Nationality: Sri Lankan(s)
Religions: Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)
National Symbol: lion
National Anthem or Song: Sri Lanka Matha (Mother Sri Lanka)
Economy of Sri Lanka
Major Industries: processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining
Agricultural Products: rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish
Natural Resources: limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower
Major Exports: textiles and apparel, tea and spices; diamonds, emeralds, rubies; coconut products, rubber manufactures, fish
Major Imports: textile fabrics, mineral products, petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery and transportation equipment
Currency: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)
National GDP: $116,300,000,000
** Source for population (2012 est.) and GDP (2011 est.) is CIA World Factbook.
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