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About Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka HolidaysBackground Note: Sri Lanka(Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka has many nicknames: Serendib, Ceylon, Teardrop of India, Resplendent Isle, Island of Dharma, Pearl of the Orient. This colourful collection reveals its richness and beauty, and the intensity of the affection it evokes in its visitors.



Area: 65,610 sq. km. (25,332 sq. mi.); about the size of West Virginia.
Cities: Capital--Colombo (pop. est. 1.3 million--urban area). Sri Jayewardenepura-Kotte is the officially designated capital and is the site of Parliament, but it is currently only an administrative center. Other cities--Kandy (150,000), Galle (110,000), Jaffna (100,000).
Terrain: Coastal plains in the northern third of country; hills and mountains in south-central Sri Lanka rise to more than 2,133 meters (7,000 ft.).
Climate: Tropical. Rainy seasons--light in northeast, fall and winter, with average rainfall of 50 in.; heavy in southwest, summer and fall, with average rainfall of 200 in.



Nationality: Noun and adjective--Sri Lankan(s).
Population (2005): 19.7 million.
Annual growth rate: 1.1%.
Ethnic groups: Sinhalese (74%), Tamils (18%), Muslims (7%), others (1%).
Religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.
Languages: Sinhala and Tamil (official), English.
Education: Years compulsory--to age 14. Primary school attendance--96.5%. Literacy--91%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--14/1,000. Life expectancy--72 yrs. (male); 77 yrs. (female).
Work force: 8.1 million.



Type: Republic.
Independence: February 4, 1948.
Constitution: August 31, 1978.
Suffrage: Universal over 18.
Branches: Executive--president, chief of state and head of government, elected for a 6-year term. Legislative--unicameral 225-member Parliament. Judicial--Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, subordinate courts. Administrative subdivisions: Nine provinces and 25 administrative districts. (The northern and eastern provinces, however, have been technically jointly administered since 1988.) Political parties: Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Jathika Hela Urumaya, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Tamil National Alliance, United National Party, several small Tamil and Muslim parties, and others.


Flag Description

Sri Lanka FlagYellow with two panels; the smaller hoist-side panel has two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and orange; the other panel is a large dark red rectangle with a yellow lion holding a sword, and there is a yellow bo leaf in each corner; the yellow field appears as a border around the entire flag and extends between the two panels



GDP: $23.5 billion .
Annual growth rate: 6.0%.
Natural resources: Limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, and phosphate.
Agriculture (17.2% of GDP): Major products--rice, tea, rubber, coconut, and spices.
Services (55.8% of GDP): Major types--tourism, transport, telecom, banking and finance.
Industry (27.9% of GDP): Major types--garments and leather goods, food processing, chemicals, refined petroleum, wood products, basic metal products, and paper products.Trade: Exports--$6.3 billion: garments, tea, rubber products, jewelry and gems, refined petroleum, and coconuts. Major markets--U.S. ($2 billion), U.K., India Imports--$8.9 billion. Major suppliers--India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Iran, Malaysia, Japan, UK, UAE, Belgium, Indonesia, South Korea, U.S. ($200 million).


History in Brief

Sri Lanka HolidaysThe actual origins of the Sinhalese are shrouded in myth. Most believe they came to Sri Lanka from northern India during the 6th century BC. Buddhism arrived from the subcontinent 300 years later and spread rapidly. Buddhism and a sophisticated system of irrigation became the pillars of classical Sinhalese civilization (200 BC-1200 AD) that flourished in the north-central part of the island. Invasions from southern India, combined with internecine strife, pushed Sinhalese kingdoms southward.
The island's contact with the outside world began early. Roman sailors called the island Taprobane. Arab traders knew it as "Serendip," the root of the word "serendipity." Beginning in 1505, Portuguese traders, in search of cinnamon and other spices, seized the island's coastal areas and spread Catholicism. The Dutch supplanted the Portuguese in 1658. Although the British ejected the Dutch in 1796, Dutch law remains an important part of Sri Lankan jurisprudence. In 1815, the British defeated the king of Kandy, last of the native rulers, and created the Crown Colony of Ceylon. They established a plantation economy based on tea, rubber, and coconuts. In 1931, the British granted Ceylon limited self-rule and a universal franchise. Ceylon became independent on February 4, 1948.




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