Sri Lanka Profile PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 21 September 2007 04:45
Geographical background of Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka (with the meaning of resplendent island in Sanskrit language) is an island of the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean,in the Southern Tip of India between the longitudes 80 and 82 degrees east and the latitudes 6 and 10 degrees north. Its maximum length is 432 kilometers from north to south and its maximum width is 224 kilometers from east to west; it has an area of 65,525 square kilometers. Due to her position at the southern tip of the Indian Sub-Continent Sri Lanka is often referred to as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. The tropical climate with an average temperature of 27ºC fluctuates between 15ºC in the highlands to 35ºC in certain areas of the lowlands. Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, Colombo, is a fascinating city, not only for a comfortable blend of east and west, but also for a cozy mixture of the past and present.
Ancient map of Sri Lanka drawn in 151 AD by Egyptian Mathematician Claudius Ptolemy
Ancient map of Sri Lanka drawn in 151 AD by Egyptian Mathematician Claudius Ptolemy

Modern satellite map of Sri Lanka taken from NASA
Modern satellite map of Sri Lanka taken from NASA
Sri Lanka Map with cities
Sri Lanka Map with cities


The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a free, independent and sovereign nation. Legislative power is exercised by the Parliament, elected by people on a proportional representation basis. Executive power of the people, including defence, is exercised by the President, who is also elected by the people.

The people of Sri Lanka are of diverse ethnicity and faiths. Sri Lanka has been an ancient centre of Buddhist religion and culture. The majority is Sinhalese who are mostly Buddhists. Among the minorities the Tamils; mainly Hindus are the largest, followed by the Moors who follow Islam and a sharply declining number of Burghers, who are Christians. There is also a considerable population of Christians among the Sinhalese and Tamils.

Sri Lanka’s population is closer to 20 million, of whom the majority is Sinhalese (75%). Other ethnic groups are made up of, Tamils 18%, Moors 6.2%, Malays, Burghers (of Portuguese & Dutch descent) and others 0.8%.

Sinhala and Tamil are official languages in Sri Lanka. Sinhala, a language of Indo-Aryan origin is the language of the majority. English is widely spoken and understood.Sri Lanka has an export-oriented economy with a widely expanding service sector. Tea, rubber and coconut are important export agricultural crops, with tea being a major foreign exchange earner. In addition, other crops of importance are cocoa and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and cloves. Fruit and vegetables, native to both tropical and temperate regions, grow well in the country. Sri Lanka is also a major exporter of precious Gems and stones. Non-traditional exports such as garments, seafood, foliage, flowers and tropical fish and value added agro-industries have contributed to the economic advancement of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is rich of, ancient monuments, rain forests, elegant waterfalls rich cultural heritages, and amassing diversity of sceneries, impressive green paddy fields, sun-bronzed beaches, ancient cities, sanctuaries, wildlife, and the hill country tea plantations.

History of Sri Lanka:
The history of Sri Lanka stretches back over 2500 years, the arrival of Prince Vijaya with his entourage of seven hundred followers in 6th century B.C. However, recorded civilization dates back to 380 BC, when Anuradhapura (206 km from Colombo) was established as the first capital city. Following the advent of Buddhism in the 3rd Century BC, a civilization rich in Indo-Aryan culture took root. With invasions from neighboring South India, the base of power shifted to Polonnaruwa (101 km South East of Anuradhapura) and other cities such as Dambadeniya, Kurunegala, Kotte and Kandy.

In the 16 the Century the island had its first recorded encounter with the traders and colonizers of the West, with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505 A.D. What followed was a period of nearly five hundred years during which the island came under the control and influence of the Portuguese, Dutch and British.  The Portuguese and Dutch ruled over the coastal regions for a rough 150 years each, the British established complete control over the island with the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815. They too ruled for 150 years before the country regained independence on 4th February 1948.

Tradition at welcome:
The palms clasped together and a gentle bow of the head accompanies the "Ayubowan", (May you have a long Life) Sri Lanka's gentle gesture of welcome and respect. It is the age-old greeting of Sri Lankans.

Although well on the road to modernization, the country and its people still relish most of their traditional values and take pride in their rich culture. One of the reasons continues to attract visitors from abroad, as much as the beauty and diversity of scenery, and the warmth and friendship of the people.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 July 2009 09:15
H.E Mahinda Rajapaksa
Democratic Socialist Republic of
Sri Lanka
Hon. D. M. Jayaratne
Prime Minister
Hon. G. L. Peiris
Minister of External Affairs
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