Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. It was known as Ceylon until 1972. The name was changed as Sri Lanka in 1972. It has maritime borders with India to the north-west and the Maldives to the south-west.
Sri Lanka has a mythological reference. It was known as Lanka in the Indian epic, the Ramayana. The early inhabitants of Sri Lanka were probably the ancestors of the Vedda people. The early modern period of Sri Lanka begins with the arrival of the Portuguese. The country faced a British invasion in 1803. By then, the entire coastal area was under the British East India Company. The beginning of the modern period of Sri Lanka is marked by the Colebrooke-Cameron reforms of 1833. They introduced a utilitarian and 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 and a Legislative Council were established at that time. Sri Lanka got her independence on 4 February 1948. Now Jayawardenapura is the Administrative capital and Colombo is the commercial Capital of Sri Lanka.
From 1983, ethnic tensions were manifested in insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Following the riots in July 1983, more than 1,50,000 Tamil civilians fled away from the island, seeking asylum in other countries, mainly in India. Lapses in foreign policy resulted in strengthening the Tigers by providing arms and military training. In 1987, the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord was signed and Indian Peace Keeping Force was deployed in northern Sri Lanka to stabilise the region by neutralising the LTTE. In 2002, Sri Lanka government and LTTE signed a ceasefire agreement. Following the defeat of LTTE, the Tamil National Alliance, the largest political party in Sri Lanka, dropped its demand for a separate state in favour of a federal solution.
Sri Lanka is now a democratic republic governed by a semi-presidential system which is a mixture of a presidential system and a parliamentary system. This system has three branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. The State is divided into 9 provinces and 25 districts. The economic condition of Sri Lanka is next only to Maldives in the South Asian region in terms of per capita income. It is the 53rd most populated country in the world, with an annual population growth rate of 0.73%.
There are two official languages in Sri Lanka—Sinhalese and Tamil. The Constitution of the country declares English as lingua franca or link language. And for that, English is widely used for education, scientific, commercial and administrative purposes. The literacy rate in Sri Lanka is about 92.5% and thus it has got the most literate population among the developing nations.
Sri Lanka is a multi-religious country. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BC by venerable Mahinda, the messenger of the emperor Ashoka of India. Now Buddhism is the most dominant religion. Hinduism is the second-most and Islam is the third-most prevalent religion. Christianity was also brought into the country by the Western colonists in the early 16th century. Around 7% of the Sri Lankan population are Christians.
Officially, the Constitution of Sri Lanka guarantees human rights as prescribed by the United Nations. However, it has come under criticism by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The national sport in Sri Lanka is volleyball, but by far the most popular sport in the country is cricket.
The Asian tsunami in 2004 killed over 35,000 in Sri Lanka. However, the fringing coral reefs and the country’s mangrove ecosystem played a vital role in buffering the force and more devastation of the 2004 tsunami.