Thursday, February 28, 2013

Culture in Sri Lanka

The culture of Sri Lanka has been influenced by many factors but has managed to retain much of its ancient aspects. Mostly it has been influenced by its long history and its diversity of religious beliefs. The country has a rich artistic tradition, embracing the fine arts, including music, dance, and visual arts. Sri Lankan lifestyle is reflected in the cuisine, festivals, and sports. South Indian influences are visible in many aspects. There is also some influences from colonization by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. Sri Lankan culture is best known abroad for its cricket, food, holistic medicine, religious icons like the Buddhist flag, and cultural exports such as tea. Sri Lankan culture is diverse, as it varies from region to region


The two single biggest influences on Sri Lankan music are from Buddhism and Portuguese colonizers. Buddhism arrived in Sri Lanka after the Buddha's visit in 300 BC, while the Portuguese arrived in the 15th century, bringing with them cantiga ballads, the ukulele, and guitars, along with African slaves, who further diversified the musical roots of the island. These slaves were called kaffrinha, and their dance music was called baila. Traditional Sri Lankan music includes the hypnotic Kandyan drums - drumming was and is very much a part and parcel of music in both Buddhist and Hindu temples in Sri Lanka.


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, 1962) marked the transition cinema from black-and-white to color. It in the recent years has featured subjects such as family melodrama, social transformation, and the years of conflict between the military and the LTTE. Their cinematic style is similar to the Bollywood movies. In 1979, movie attendance rose to an all-time high, but recorded a gradual downfall since then. Undoubtedly, the most influential and revolutionary filmmaker in the history of Sri Lankan cinema is Lester James Peiris, who has directed a number of movies which led to global acclaim, including Rekava (Line of destiny, 1956), Gamperaliya (The changing village, 1964), Nidhanaya (The treasure, 1970), and Golu Hadawatha (Cold Heart, 1968

Education in Srilanka

Education in Sri Lanka has a long history which dates back two millennia and the Constitution of Sri Lanka provide for education as a fundamental right. The Sri Lanka's population has a literacy rate of 92%, higher than that expected for a third world country; it has the highest literacy rate in South Asia and overall, one of the highest literacy rates in Asia. Education plays a major part in the life and culture of the country and dates back to 543 BC. Modern education system was brought about with the integration of Sri Lanka in to the British Empire in the 19th century and it falls under the control of both the Central Government and the Provincial Councils, with some responsibilities lying with the Central Government and the Provincial Council having autonomy for others
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Higher Education
National education budget (2007)
BudgetRs. (5.4% of GDP)[citation needed]
General details
Primary languagesSinhala, Tamil and English
System typeProvincial
Literacy (2003)
Post secondary14,000 (10-12%

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Industry of Sri Lanka

Industry, including manufacturing, mining, energy, transportation, and construction, accounted for around 38 percent of GNP in 1986. The most important products included refined oil, textiles, gems, and processed agricultural products. Construction and tourism both grew rapidly in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but contracted after the onset of ethnic violence in 1983. State-owned corporations accounted for over 50 percent of total industrial output. An investment promotion zone was established in 1979 with the goal of attracting foreign capital; textile factories accounted for a large proportion of investment there in its early years. The island's electricity supply was mainly fueled by hydropower.

Changing Patterns

Sri Lanka developed little industry under British rule, relying instead on the proceeds from agricultural exports to buy manufactured goods from other countries. Most industry during the colonial period involved processing the principal export commodities: tea, rubber, and coconut. Although these sectors remained important, in the 1980s there was a much greater variety of industrial establishments, including a steel mill, an oil refinery, and textile factories.
Industrial diversification began in the 1960s with the production of consumer goods for the domestic market. This trend was a consequence of government measures aimed at saving foreign exchange, which made it difficult to import many items that had previously been obtained from overseas. Heavy industries were established in the late 1960s, mostly in the state sector. During the 1970-77 period the state assumed an even greater role in manufacturing, but after the economic reforms of 1977 the government attempted to improve prospects for the private sector. The fastest growing individual sector in the 1980s was textiles, which made up approximately 29 percent of industrial production in 1986. The textiles, clothing, and leather products sector became the largest foreign exchange earner in 1986. Over 80 percent of the manufacturing capacity was concentrated in Western Province, particularly in and around Colombo.

Industrial Policies

The enactment of the State Industrial Corporations Act of 1957 provided for the reconstitution of existing state enterprises as well as the establishment of new corporations to promote the development of large-scale and basic industries. The period 1958 to 1963 witnessed the first phase in the rapid growth of state industrial corporations. By 1963 fourteen such corporations were engaged in such fields as textiles, cement, sugar, paper, chemicals, edible oils and fats, ceramics, mineral sands, plywood, and leather. By 1974 there were twenty-five state corporations, including such major undertakings as a steel mill and an oil refinery.
Despite the 1977 policy shift in favor of the private sector, in early 1988 government-controlled enterprises continued to play a major role in industry. State-owned corporations accounted for nearly 60 percent of total industrial output. The most important public company was the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, which accounted for about 55 percent of all public-sector production.
From the beginning, many industrial corporations in the state sector were troubled by such problems as management inefficiency, technical deficiencies in planning, overstaffing, and defective pricing policies. These difficulties contributed in many undertakings to poor economic results. Moreover, public sector enterprises were associated with objectives that reflected both growth and welfare considerations for the economy as a whole. They became the chief instruments furthering state ownership and social control in the economy, and they were expected to promote capital formation and long-term development. At times they were also looked upon chiefly as major sources of employment and enterprises providing goods and services to the public at relatively low prices. As a result, a number of the state industrial corporations have lost money. In 1987 the debts of state-owned corporations were Rs19 billion, of which Rs15 billion were owed to foreign sources and Rs4 billion to the two state-owned banks.
The liberalization of the economy in 1977 was largely prompted by the perceived inefficiency of the public sector, not by any ideological commitment to free enterprise. As a result, the government let private enterprise compete with the state corporations but took few steps to dismantle the state sector. Instead, it attempted to improve its efficiency. One major state venture, the National Milk Board, was dissolved in 1986, however. It had been established in 1953, but had never succeeded in developing the milk industry. In 1987 it was reported that consideration was being given to transferring to private control several state-run industrial enterprises. These included the four government textile mills, the State Distilleries Corporation, the National Paper Corporation, the Mineral Sands Corporation, Paranthan Chemicals, Sri Lanka Tyre, and Union Motors. In early 1988, however, doubts remained about the extent of the government's commitment to this program. Although the plan to sell the textile mills was expected to be implemented within two years, some of the government's economic advisers reportedly were urging the government to proceed cautiously in its privatization policy, in view of the limited capital markets, the concentration of private wealth, and the weak regulatory framework.


The share of manufacturing in the economy declined from 21 to 15 percent of GDP between 1977 and 1986. This fall is somewhat misleading because it resulted in large part from the rapid growth in the service sector and the decline in output of the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. The latter accounted for as much as one-third of the value of manufactured goods in some years and thus strongly affected aggregate manufacturing statistics. These statistics fluctuated along with changes in the value of the output of the oil refinery, which in turn varied with oil price levels and the extent of plant closings for maintenance. Some manufacturing sectors grew rapidly during this period.
Manufacturing was dominated for most of the twentieth century by the processing of agricultural produce for both the export and domestic markets. The most important industries were engaged in preparing and packaging for outside markets the principal export commodities--tea, rubber, and coconuts--for which Sri Lanka is noted. Such preparation generally involved low technology, comparatively modest capital investment on machinery, and uncomplicated, sequential procedures. Tea leaves, for example, follow a four-part process of withering, rolling (to extract bitter juices), fermentation, and heating (or roasting), before being packed in chests for export.
The processing of coconut and of rubber also were important industries, although their ratio in proportion to all manufacturing fell in the 1970s and early 1980s. The processing of the latter two commercial crops generally involved refining the basic commodities into a range of semi-finished products to be used in manufacturing finished goods at home or abroad. Coconuts, for example, are transformed into copra, desiccated coconut, coconut oil, fiber, poonac (a meal extract), and toddy. Copra and desiccated coconut are used as oils or as ingredients in food such as margarine; coconut oil is used to make soap; coconut fibers such as coir are used to make yarn, rope, or fishnets, while poonac is used as food for livestock. The coconut palm flower is also used in the production of alcoholic beverages.
Rubber is also processed in various ways, including latex or scrap crepe and ribbed or smoked sheet, which together account for much of Sri Lanka's export of this commodity. Processing methods for rubber are outdated, however, and Western consumer countries have protested against the hardness, high moisture content, and inconsistent quality of the Sri Lankan product.
Manufacturing received a boost in the early 1960s when import controls, which were the result of shortages in foreign exchange, made it difficult for consumers to obtain or afford foreign products. The result was a protected and profitable ready-made home market. This situation led to an expansion of both privateand public-sector manufacturing, with the private sector concentrating on consumer goods. These new enterprises, however, depended heavily on imported raw materials, and when the country's balance of payments difficulties became even more serious in the early 1970s, industry suffered from the lack of foreign exchange. In 1974 it was estimated that only 40 percent of the capacity of the industrial sector was used. After the 1977 liberalization, raw materials were more freely available, and in 1986 capacity utilization was estimated at 78 percent.
In 1978 the government established the Greater Colombo Economic Commission primarily to serve as the authority for the free trade zones to be set up near the capital. The first investment promotion zone consisted of a large tract that was established in 1979 at Katunayaka, near the Bandaranaike International Airport. A second zone was inaugurated in 1986 at Biyagama, in Colombo District. Foreign companies that built factories in the zones received generous tax concessions. The commission succeeded in attracting some foreign investment, especially from Hong Kong and other Asian countries. At the end of 1985, a total of 119 enterprises had signed agreements with the commission, but only 7 were signed in 1986, when there were 72 units in production. The total number of people employed was nearly 42,000. Gross export earnings from the investment promotion zones in 1986 were around Rs5.5 billion, up 43 percent from 1985. Foreign investments outside the free trade zones were coordinated by the Foreign Investment Advisory Committee.
The principal change in manufacturing in the 1980s was the rapid growth of the textile sector, from 10.5 percent of output in 1980 to 29.2 percent in 1986. In the mid-1980s, the government was attempting to diversify foreign investment away from textiles. Most textile factories were located in the investment promotion zones.
During the July 1983 riots, 152 factories were destroyed, but there was little long-term effect. Some observers expressed the view that the equipment destroyed was inefficient, and that modernization was long overdue.


Total expenditure for construction was estimated at 7.7 percent of GDP in 1986. The sector was given a boost by the ambitious public investment program of the government that came to power in 1977. Between 1977 and 1980, construction expanded at an annual rate of 20 percent in real terms. It stagnated in the 1980s as the number of new projects dwindled and the early ones were completed.
The largest construction project of the post-1977 period was the Mahaweli irrigation program. Conceived in the 1960s as the Mahaweli Ganga Program, the project originally was expected to bring approximately 364,000 additional hectares of land under irrigation and to provide an extra 540 megawatts of hydroelectric power to the national grid. Completion of the program was to require thirty years. Construction of the first two dams was completed in 1977 and opened about 53,000 hectares of new land to irrigation in a general area south of the old capital of Anuradhapura in the dry zone. When the United National Party swept into power in 1977, the project was given renewed impetus and renamed the Accelerated Mahaweli Program. Construction work was undertaken at five new sites between 1979 and 1982, with the intent of increasing the hectares under irrigation and generating an extra 450 megawatts of hydroelectric power for the national grid. By the end of 1987, new dams and reservoirs had been completed at Kotmale, Randenigala, Maduru Oya, and Victoria. The operational power stations at Randenigala and Victoria together generated 330 megawatts of power, with an additional 147 megawatts expected when the Kotmale station came on line. All construction related to the Accelerated Mahaweli Program was scheduled for completion by 1989. The total cost of the entire project was estimated at US$1.4 to 2 billion.
The Urban Development Authority was established in 1978 to promote integrated planning and development of important urban locations. Its responsibilities have included the new parliamentary buildings and the reconstruction of St. John's fish market in Colombo. Total expenditure of the Urban Development Authority was Rs529 million in 1986, well under its annual budget in the early 1980s. The Million Houses Program was established in 1984 to coordinate both public and private housing construction. In early 1988 the government's policy was to subsidize private housing rather than undertake extensive public housing programs.


Mining is carried out in both the public and private sectors. The most valuable products are precious and semiprecious stones, including sapphires, rubies, cats' eyes, topaz, garnets, and moonstones. Official exchange earnings from gems were negligible in the first two decades after independence because most of the output was smuggled out of the country. The setting up of a publicly owned State Gem Corporation in 1971 and export incentives for those exporting through legal channels brought a marked improvement. In 1986 legal exports were valued at Rs755 million, but many observers believed that a considerable quantity was still being exported illegally. In the late 1980s, Japan remained the most important market for Sri Lanka's gems. The Moors traditionally have played an important role in the industry.
Graphite also is of commercial significance. Almost the entire output is exported as crude graphite (plumbago). Ilmenite, a mineral sand used in the manufacture of paint and the fortification of metals, also is exported. Salt is produced by evaporation for the domestic market. Thorium deposits have been reported in Sabaragamuwa Province and in the beach sands of the northeast and southwest coasts. Exploration also has disclosed the presence of apatite (source of phosphate), dolomite (fertilizer component) and small pockets of economically extractable iron ore

Agriculture of Sri Lanka

Agriculture in Sri Lanka mainly depends on Rice production. Its main goal is to achieve an equitable and sustainable agricultural development through development and dissemination of improved agriculture technology. To achieve this end Sri Lankan government has Department of Agriculture – Sri Lanka (DOASL). The Department main functions are research, extension, seed and planting material production, regulatory services, plant quarantine, soil conservation, registration of pesticides. Media production unit of the department is Audio Visual Centre (AVC) - Sri Lanka. There are few Agriculture Parks abbreviated as A.Parks established by the department. One is located at Gannoruwa and the most recent one is at the Bataatha. Bataatha A.Park is recently world famous for having world first farmers monument at its entrance.
Agriculture made up 30.5% of employment in Sri Lanka in 2005, down from 36.8 in 1995

Rivers of Sri Lanka

The following is a list of rivers in Sri Lanka. Rivers shorter than 100 km (62 mi) are not included in this list.
The Gin River.
1Mahaweli RiverAdam's PeakTrincomalee335 km (208 mi)
2Malvathu RiverAnuradhapuraMannar164 km (102 mi)
3Kala Oya 148 km (92 mi)
4Kelani RiverAdam's PeakColombo145 km (90 mi)
5Yan Oya 142 km (88 mi)
6Deduru Oya 142 km (88 mi)
7Walawe GangaAdam's PeakAmbalanthota138 km (86 mi)
8Maduru Oya 135 km (84 mi)
9Maha Oya Negombo134 km (83 mi)
10Kalu RiverAdam's PeakKalutara129 km (80 mi)
11Kirindi Oya 117 km (73 mi)
12Kumbukkan Oya 116 km (72 mi)
13Menik Oya 114 km (71 mi)
14Gin RiverDeniyayaGalle113 km (70 mi)
15Mi Oya Puttalam109 km (68 mi)
16Gal Oya 108 km (67 mi)

Mahaweli River

A significant river in Sri Lanka the Mahaweli River is the country’s lifeblood in many ways as it serves both as a source of electricity and as a source of fertile land. The drainage basin for this river is incredibly large and covers an area that is almost equal to a fifth of the island’s entire size.
The Mahaweli is also the longest river in Sri Lanka and originates from the Hatton Plateau that is located on the Western side of the country’s hill side. From this point it proceeds to flow through an area that is dominated by tea and rubber growing takes a turn to the east before reaching the city of Kandy. It eventually passes through Trincomalee and ends up in the Bay of Bengal. From here onwards it still carries on in the form of a major submarine canyon which allows it to function as one of the finest deep sea harbours in the world.
The Mahaweli River plays a major role in Sri Lanka’s power generation as several parts of the river have been dammed in order to facilitate the creation of various hydro electricity power plants that generate a sizeable part of the countries electricity. It is for this reason that Sri Lanka’s primary source of power is through hydro-electricity.
Farming and agriculture also plays an important part in the country and it is here again that river has shown its dual purpose. The damming of the river has also provided water in numerous areas that has been siphoned off for irrigation purposes.

The Mahaweli River has always played an important role in Sri Lanka and it will continue to do so well in to the future.

Geography of Sri Lanka

Overall, Sir Lanka has a varied terrain but it mainly consists of flat lands but south-central portion of the country's interior features mountain and step sided river canyons. The flatter regions are the areas where most of Sri Lanka's agriculture takes place, aside from coconut farms along the coast.

Sri Lanka's climate is tropical and the southwestern part of the island is the wettest. Most of the rain in the southwest falls from April to June and October to November. The northeastern part of Sri Lanka is drier and most of its rain falls from December to February. Sri Lanka's average yearly temperature is around 86°F to 91°F (28°C to 31°C).

An important geographic note about Sri Lanka is its position in the Indian Ocean, which made it vulnerable to one of the world's largest natural disasters. On December, 26, 2004, it was struck by large tsunami that hit 12 Asian countries. Around 38,000 people in Sri Lanka were killed during this event and much of Sri Lanka's coast was destroyed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Freedom struggle of Sri lanka

The Sri Lankan independence movement was a peaceful political movement which aimed at achieving independence and self-rule for Ceylon from the British Empire. It was initiated around the turn of the 20th century lead mostly by the educated middle class and ultimately was successful when February 4, 1948 Ceylon was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. Dominion status within the British Commonwealth was retained for the next 24 years until May 22, 1972 when it became a republic and was renamed the Republic of Sri Lanka. (The formal ceremony marking the start of self-rule, with the opening of the first parliament at Independence Square by Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in the presence of Rt Hon D.S. Senanayake as first Prime Minister of Ceylon)
The British Raj was dominant in Asia after the Battle of Assaye; following the Battle of Waterloo the British Empire became the world superpower. Its appearance of omnipotence was only briefly dented by setbacks in India, Afghanistan and South Africa. It was virtually unchallenged until 1914.
The formation of the Batavian Republic in the Netherlands as an ally and of the French Directory, led to a British attack on Ceylon in 1795 as part of England's war against the French Republic. The Kandyan Kingdom collaborated with the British expeditionary forces against the Dutch, as it had with the Dutch against the Portuguese.
Once the Dutch had been evicted, their sovereignty ceded by the Treaty of Amiens and subsequent revolts in the low-country suppressed, the British began planning to capture the Kandyan Kingdom. The 1803 and 1804 invasions of the Kandyan provinces in the 1st Kandyan War were bloodily defeated. In 1815, the British fomented a revolt by the Kandyan aristocracy against the last Kandyan monarch and marched into uplands to depose him in the 2nd Kandyan War.
The struggle against the colonial power began in 1817 with the Uva Rebellion, when the same aristocracy rose against British rule in a rebellion in which their villagers participated. They were defeated by the occupiers. An attempt at rebellion sparked again briefly in 1830. The Kandyan peasantry were stripped of their lands by the Wastelands Ordinance, a modern enclosure movement and reduced to penury.
In 1848 the abortive Matale Rebellion, led by Hennedige Francisco Fernando (Puran Appu) and Gongalegoda Banda was the first transitional step towards abandoning the feudal form of revolt, being fundamentally a peasant revolt. The masses were without the leadership of their native King (deposed in 1815) or their chiefs (either crushed after the Uva Rebellion or collaborating with the colonial power). The leadership passed for the first time in the Kandyan provinces into the hands of ordinary people, non-aristocrats. The leaders were yeomen-artisans, resembling the Levellers in England's revolution and mechanics such as Paul Revere and Tom Paine who were at the heart of the American Revolution. However, in the words of Colvin R. de Silva, 'it had leaders but no leadership. The old feudalists were crushed and powerless. No new class capable of leading the struggle and heading it towards power had yet arisen.
In the 1830s, coffee was introduced into Sri Lanka, a crop which flourishes in high altitudes, and grown on the land taken from the peasants. The principal impetus to this development of capitalist production in Sri Lanka was the decline in coffee production in the West Indies, following the abolition of slavery there.
However, the dispossessed peasantry were not employed on the plantations: The Kandyan villagers refused to abandon their traditional subsistence holdings and become wage-workers in the nightmarish conditions that prevailed on these new estates, despite all the pressure exerted by the colonial state. The British therefore had to draw on its reserve army of labour in India, to man its lucrative new outpost to the south. An infamous system of contract labour was established, which transported hundreds of thousands of Tamil 'coolies' from southern India into Sri Lanka for the coffee estates. These Tamils labourers died in tens of thousands both on the journey itself as well as on the plantations.
The coffee economy collapsed in the 1870s, when coffee blight ravaged the plantations, but the economic system it had created survived intact into the era of its successor, tea which was introduced on a wide scale from 1880 onwards. Tea was more capital-intensive and needed a higher volume of initial investment to be processed, so that individual estate-owners were now supplanted by large English consolidated companies based either in London ('sterling firms') or Colombo ('rupee firms'). Monoculture was thus increasingly capped by monopoly within the plantation economy. The pattern thus created in the 19th century remained in existence down to 1972. The only significant modification to the colonial economy was the addition of a rubber sector in the mid-country areas.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Colonial period of Sri Lanka

Colonial Period Architecture
The accidental arrival of the Portuguese Lorenzo De Almeida in 1505, when his fleet of ships steered off course following a storm at sea, changed the history of this island nation. The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch in 1640 and then the British in 1796. With each occupation, the cultural and architectural influences remained. Forts and townships originally built by the Portuguese in Galle, Matara, Negombo and Kalpitiya were later captured by the Dutch and developed further to include churches, canals, and public buildings. British Colonial period architecture is seen in Colombo and the hill country.

Galle’s 17th century Dutch Fort
Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, originally built by the Portuguese and then further developed by the Dutch and the British, covers nearly four sq kms, and is protected by 12 bastions and connecting ramparts. During the early 18th century the Old Dutch Gate was the entrance point to the Fort. Subsequently the British built the Main Gate which is still used today. Buildings of interest include the Dutch Reformed Church, All Saints Church, Amangalla Hotel (formerly the New Oriental Hotel), the lighthouse and bell tower. The Dutch also developed what was then an innovative tide-based sewage-system within the Fort. A maze of narrow roads lined with small houses and shops with Dutch names still remain. Recently, a spate of old colonial houses within the Fort have been intelligently renovated and made into exquisite boutique villas and hotels retaining the colonial architectural features including arches and columned courtyards, verandas, and high ceilings.

Colonial architecture of Colombo
Colombo’s three-mile long rampart cordoning of the area covered by today’s Fort and Pettah districts, was originally built in the 17th century by the Portuguese and then further developed by the Dutch and the British. Today, it is the commercial hub of the country consisting of government offices, banks, five-star hotels and the country’s largest wholesale bazaar with a maze of lanes and small shops crowded with people frantically buying and selling. In Fort, many of the old colonial buildings still stand gloriously, side by side with the rest of Colombo’s modern skyline. Interesting buildings to visit include the Galle Face Hotel (once the mansion of a British Governor), the Presidential Secretariat (previously the Parliament house), Grand Oriental Hotel (previously barracks for soldiers during Dutch period), the red & white Cargills & Millers department store buildings, the General Post Office building (the Delft Gateway built during the Dutch period), and the Fort Police Station (previously a Dutch hospital). The St. Peter’s Church and the Wovendaal Church located by the Grand Oriental Hotel were also built during the Dutch period.

Colonial architecture of the North West Coast
The influences of the Dutch and Portuguese periods are notable right along from Negombo to Kalpitiya. Several 17th century Catholic churches are found in this area and are popular pilgrimage sites, especially St. Anne’s shrine in Talawilla where pilgrims flock during the months of March and July for the church festivals. A century’s old network of canals developed by the Dutch, linking Colombo’s seaport to the North Western coastal towns, still function as active waterways full of life. These canal paths winding through the villages can be explored by boat. Cycle along side these canal ways or go on a walking journey where you can experience life along these coastal rural fishing villages.

British colonial architecture of the hill country
Nuwara Eliya, nestled at the foot of Pidurutalagala Mountain, was made into a summer retreat by the British in the early 1800s and much of its colonial character still remains. Nuwara Eliya’s leafy by-roads are lined with Victorian style mansions dating back to the 19th century which have now been converted into characterful hotels. Some of the more interesting buildings include the Hill Club - a 130-year-old granite mansion resembling a mini Victorian castle; St. Andrew’s Hotel housed in a stately Tudor-style colonial mansion built in the latter part of the 19th century; and the Grand Hotel - once the residence of Sir Edward Barnes, a British Governor of Sri Lanka. The Adisham Monastery modelled on Leeds Castle in Kent, was built in the early 20th century. Examples of colonial planter’s bungalows include the Ceylon Tea Trails Bungalows in Dickoya, Netherbyres in Haputale, and Kirchhayn in Bandarawela. These bungalows have been designed with gabled roofs and large open fireplaces.

History of Sri Lanka

The large island off the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent is occupied by hunter-gatherers until the arrival, in the 6th century BC, of the Sinhalese - a tribal group of Indo-Europeans which has moved south through India.

These people give the island the name by which it has been known throughout most of history: Sinhaladwipa, meaning 'island of the Sinhalese', which becomes Ceylon in English. The name of the country is changed to Sri Lanka ('beautiful island') when it becomes a republic in 1972. The original inhabitants were a people known as the Vedda, survivors of whom still live in rockshelters on the eastern side. Written history dates back to the first king , an indian prince named vijaya. He settled in the island somke 500 years before the Christ . The descendants of his subjects form the Sinhalese proper.
Budhism, the religion of most of ghe people , first came to Ceylon in the 3rd century BC, when king Asoka of India sent his own son , Thera Mahinda, to carry the Message of Budha to King Desanapiyatissa of Ceylon. The country then embraced Budhism. The most famous of many Budhist shtines there is the temple of the Sacred Tooth at Kandy.
From the first century BC onwards Ceylon was invaded by South Indian (Tamil) princes, and this resulted in a fight for suoremacy between Tamil and Sinhalese. In 1505 Portuguese adventures arrived and conquered parts of the island. The Portuguese were driven by the Dutch in 1640 , and they in turn were ousted by the British in 1796. In 1815 the Sinhalese surrendered the whole of the island to the British, and it then became a British colony.In 1946, as a result of recommendations of a commission led by Lord Soulbury, Ceylon received a new constitution of dominion status under commonwealth from Feb. 1948.    

Theravada Buddhism: from the 3rd century BC
The most formative event in Sri Lanka's long history is the arrival of Buddhism in the 3rd century BC. This island is the furthest outpost and the most lasting achievement of the missionary efforts of the emperor Asoka.

The Sinhalese of Sri Lanka have remained faithful to Asoka's religion - the only people of the subcontinent to do so. They are still adherents of Theravada, the first and simpler form of Buddhism. In the sacred temple at Kandy there is no crowd of sculpted demigods to distract the pilgrim. The only holy thing here is a tooth. But it is, so they say, the tooth of Buddha himself, smuggled to Sri Lanka from India in the 4th century AD, hidden in the folds of the long dark hair of a princess.
Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa: 3rd c. BC - 13th c. AD
At the time of the conversion of the ruling family to Buddhism, in the 3rd century BC, the capital city is Anuradhapura in the north of the island. This becomes the first Buddhist centre of Sri Lanka, characterized by the massive dome-shaped stupas (also known as dagobas) which are built to contain sacred relics.
The monks here tend a sacred pipal tree, believed to be grown from a branch of the very tree under which Buddha found enlightenment. The branch of Buddha's tree, they say, was sent by Asoka himself as a precious gift to Sri Lanka.
The main threat to the Buddhist kingdoms of Sri Lanka is raids across the sea from the Tamil rulers of south India. The intruders differ from the inhabitants of Sri Lanka in two respects - in language (Tamil is Dravidian, Sinhalese is Indo-European) and in religion (the Tamils are Hindu).
In the first millennium of the Christian era the raiders are successfully resisted. But the pressures causes Anuradhapura to be progressively abandoned, from the 8th century, in favour of Polonnaruwa further to the south. At Polonnaruwa (itself deserted in the 13th century) a glorious past is revealed in the gigantic stone Buddhas seated or reclining in the jungle, carved from solid outcrops of rock.

Kandy and Kotte: 12th - 16th century

In the 12th century Tamil rulers finally establish a permanent Hindu presence in the north of the island. Buddhist Sri Lanka shrinks further south again. By the 15th century there are two related Buddhist kingdoms: one is based in Kandy in the hilly centre of the island; the other occupies a new palace at Kotte, a place surrounded by swampy lagoons a little inland from Colombo, by now a thriving harbour used by Arab traders.

This is the situation when a new wave of intruders makes a first appearance in the early 16th century. In 1505 Portuguese ships anchor off Colombo.

Portuguese and Dutch: AD 1505-1795

On their first visit, in 1505, the Portuguese make a treaty with the king of Kandy enabling them to trade in the island's crop of cinammon. Soon they win permission to build a fort to protect their trade. From this first fort they steadily encroach upon Sinhalese territory until the entire southern part is under their control - restricting the kingdom of Kandy to the highlands.

Jesuits and friars follow the armed traders and convert many of the population. Southern Sri Lanka becomes in effect a Portuguese colony. Towards the end of the 16th century it is formally annexed in the name of the king of Portugal.

The Sinhalese lack the strength to dispute this claim, but in the early 17th century other Europeans in these eastern waters have their own interests in the region's trade. The Dutch enter negotiations with the king of Kandy, offering to help him drive out the intruders. He is unaware that he is merely exchanging one set of Europeans for another.

The Dutch finally get the better of the Portuguese in 1656, when they capture Colombo after a six-month siege. For the next century and more they are able to corner the trade in cinammon, controlling most of the coastal areas of the island under governors sent from the capital of the Dutch East Indies at Batavia.

The Sinhalese royal house in Kandy retains a measure of independence, protected by the impenetrable combination of mountain landscape and tropical climate. Both Portuguese and Dutch forces reach Kandy on occasion but are unable to hold it.

As in so many other places, the next transfer of power in Sri Lanka is a result of the French Revolutionary wars. A British fleet arrives in 1795 and captures the island from the Dutch

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sri Lanka - Introduction

Sri Lanka , officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Known until 1972 as Ceylon (pron.: /sɨˈlɒn/, /sˈlɒn/, or /sˈlɒn/), Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.  It was one of the loveliest islands of the world.Ceylon has , from the beginning of history, chose "Sinhala, from which comes the present names.been visited by travellerswho have returned to describe in most glowing termsits gentle grace and beauty. Ceylon has had more names given to it than any other island.The pilot of the "Alexander the Great's" fleet was enchanted with it; Sindbad the sailor called it, "the island of rubies"; the Greek philosopher Aristotle relates how he had heard it named the "island covered with red lotus"; and the moors called it the " the island of delights". The name "Lanka " which occurs in ancient Hindu epics is the one most favoured by the island's inhabitants, whose forefathers. 
The gems of Ceylon have been famed for centuries. Sapphires, rubies, cat's eyes, and aquamarine are found in the south west and other semi-precious stones like topaz, garnet, zircon, and amethyst abound.Ceylon was the world's principal source of plumbago (graphite) and there are also large deposits of kaolin in th island.       
Sri Lanka's documented history spans three thousand years. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to World War II. Sri Lanka is a diverse country home to many religions, ethnicities and languages. The Sinhalese people are the majority, although there are many ethnic minorities, including Tamils, Muslim Moors, Burghers, Kaffirs, Malays and the aboriginal Vedda people. Sri Lanka has a rich Buddhist heritage, and the first known Buddhist writings were composed on the island. The country's recent history has been marred by a thirty-year civil war which decisively but controversially ended in a military victory in 2009.
Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a presidential system. The capital Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, named by a president after himself, is a suburb of the largest city, Colombo. An important producer of tea, coffee, gemstones, coconuts, rubber and the native cinnamon,Sri Lanka has been called The tear drop of India because of its shape and location and is known as "The Pearl of the Indian Ocean" because of its natural beauty. It is also known as "The nation of smiling people".[18]The island contains tropical forests, and diverse landscapes with high biodiversity.

Ceilão was the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese when they arrived in 1505, which was transliterated into English as Ceylon. As a British crown colony, the island was known as Ceylon, and achieved independence as the Dominion of Ceylon in 1948.
 The name derives from the Sanskrit श्री लंका(venerable) and lankā (island), its name in the ancient Indian epics Mahabharata and the Ramayana. In 1972, the name was changed to "Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka". In 1978 it was changed to the "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka". The name Ceylon is still in use in the names of a number of organisations; in 2011, the Sri Lankan government announced a plan to rename all of those for which it is responsible
The country has had a long history of international engagement, being a founding member of SAARC and a member of United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, G77 and Non-Aligned Movement.