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Sri Lanka

The Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C. probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced beginning in about the mid-third century B.C., and a great civilization developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (kingdom from circa 200 B.C. to circa A.D. 1000) and Polonnaruwa (from about 1070 to 1200). In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty seized power in the north and established a Tamil kingdom. Occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century, the island was ceded to the British in 1796, became a crown colony in 1802, and was united under British rule by 1815. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. Tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted into war in 1983. Tens of thousands have died in the ethnic conflict that continues to fester. After two decades of fighting, the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formalized a cease-fire in February 2002 with Norway brokering peace negotiations. Violence between the LTTE and government forces intensified in 2006, but neither side has formally withdrawn from the cease-fire.

Languages & Population

Approximate Population: 20,926,315

Nationality (Noun): Sri Lankan(s)

Nationality (Adjective): Sri Lankan

Official Language(s): Sinhala

Major Languages Spoken: English, Sinhalese, Tamil, Sinhala

Map of Sri Lanka

Country Facts

Country Name (long form): Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Country Name (short form): Sri Lanka

Country Name (local long form): Shri Lamka Prajatantrika Samajaya di Janarajaya/Il

Country Name (local short form): Shri Lamka/Ilankai

Name of Capital: Colombo

UTC Time Difference (from capital): UTC+5.5 (10.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Countries Near by, and Bordering Sri Lanka: Maldives, India

Land Area: 64740 sq km

Water Area: 870 sq km

Comparative Area: slightly larger than West Virginia

Coastline: 1,340 km

National Holiday: adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978

International Phone Code: 94

Currency Code: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)

Internet Country Code: .lk

US Embassy Location: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3

US Embassy Mailing Address: P. O. Box 106, Colombo


Sri Lanka flag

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