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.