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European explorers arrived with the Portuguese in 1505, soon followed by the establishment of a fort in Colombo in 1517. The Portuguese gave the island the name Sri Lanka. They expanded their colony over time and warred with the native kingdom, which began to move inland to escape the colonist's attacks. Dutch explorers followed and the native kingdom of Kandy agreed to a treaty with their Dutch East India Company, sparking a Dutch-Portuguese War. The Dutch won the battles, and Colombo became a Dutch colony. The British occupied Sri Lanka, calling it Ceylon in 1796, and by 1815, the Kingdom of Kandy was conquered by Britain. In 1833, the island fell under British administration, which lasted until 1948 when Ceylon gained independence.
After gaining independence, the Tamil and Sinhala communities faced much conflict. The Indian Tamil people were disenfranchised and lost their citizenship, and many were killed in the violent outbreaks that followed as the ethnic tensions continued. In 1972, the island changed its name to Sri Lanka, and rioting and unrest continued between the two major ethnic groups. The Sri Lankan War continued, lasting 26 years, and Sri Lanka has been quickly developing ever since.
Sri Lanka is an island nation, its nearest neighbor is India, and it shares maritime borders with the Maldives.
- Colombo (capital)
- Sri Jayawardenepure Kotte (capital)
Sri Lanka is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, separated from the south of India by the Gulf of Mannar and Pak Strait. Sri Lanka's terrain is primarily hilly coastal plains and a central mountain range, with Pidurutalagala as its highest point, 2,524 meters (8,281 feet) above sea level. The coastal regions are mostly arid and feature mangrove forests, which are home to a variety of endemic species. Sri Lanka has one of the highest biodiversity density in the world, and the highest overall in Asia. There are four biosphere reserves in Sri Lanka that provide protected habitats for its many endemic species.
The longest river in Sri Lanka is the Mahaweli River, but there are over a hundred rivers on the island. There are also more than 50 waterfalls, including the 263 meter (863 foot) tall Bambarakanda Falls, which is the highest on the island.
Natural destinations are some of Sri Lanka's greatest attractions, including the Sinharaja Rainforest, and the many beautiful beach resorts, like those in Robolgoda and Unawatuna. Other beach towns include Beruwela, not far from Colombo, Mirissa, and Trincomalee. Yala National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants and leopards, while Wilpattu National Park is home to a wide variety of birds. For more rugged outdoor activities, white water rafting opportunities are available at Kitulgala, while Arugam Bay is a popular surf spot.
The cities in Sri Lanka offer a look into the native and colonial history of the island. Ancient ruins of major cities can be found in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Kandy, in the heart of Sri Lanka, is a cultural capital and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kandy is notable for its history of the ancient kings, and the Temple of the Tooth Relic, an important Buddhist site.
The major international airport in Sri Lanka is Colombo-Bandaranayake International Airport, which offers flights to destinations in Europe and Asia. Travel by ferry or cruise ship is also a potential way to arrive in Sri Lanka, with service between Tuticorin and Colombo.
Once you arrive in Sri Lanka, there are several options for transportation. It is possible to rent a car in Sri Lanka for maximum freedom and comfort, and some car rentals include a driver. Regular taxis are available, and are an inexpensive choice for transportation. Another option is the tuk-tuk, a three-wheeled vehicle that are usually quite inexpensive and can be an adventurous way to travel. Buses, including those that are arranged along with tour guides can be a very cheap way to get around the country. Sri Lanka also has trains that offer great views of the landscapes of the country, and travel by rail is usually inexpensive, reliable and comfortable.
Last Updated On : November 05/2013
The official flag of Sri Lanka, also known as the Lion Flag, has border of yellow and a rectangle of crimson color with four golden bo leaves at each corner and a gold lion who is holding a sword in its right paw. On the left, there are two stripes in horizontal of saffron and green colors of equal size.
Facts about Sri Lanka
Lat Long6° 54' 0 N, 79° 54' 0 E
Official LanguageSinhala, Tamil
Major ReligionAs of the 2011 census 70.2% of Sri Lankans are Theravada Buddhists, 12.6% are Hindus, 9.7% are Muslims and 7.4% Christians (6.1% Roman Catholic and 1.3% other Christian)
National day4 February (1948)
Form of GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
Prime MinisterD. M. Jayaratne
CurrencySri Lankan rupee
GDP$127 billion 2012 estimate
Time ZoneSLST (UTC+5:30)