Country - Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Country Information
Sri Lanka, earlier known as Ceylon, is an island country situated to the south west of India in Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is separated by Gulf of Mannar (or Pak Strait) to its northwest from India. The sea distance from the abandoned town of Dhanushkodi in India to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka is 29 kilometers. Laccadive Sea lies to the west, Indian Ocean to the east and Bay of Bengal to the north east and the east of Sri Lanka.
Sri Jayawardanepura Kotte is the administrative capital and Colombo is the commercial capital. Sinhala is the main official language along with Tamil. English is a widely used non-indigenous language. The country became an independent nation from the British rule in 1948. The recent history of Sri Lanka was embroiled in secessionist conflict initiated by LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) in 1976 which lasted for more than two and half decades. The civil war ended when the LTTE was defeated by Sri Lankan Armed Forces in 2009.
The major religion is Buddhism pursued by 70.2% of its population, followed by Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and others. Prevalence of Hinduism in Sri Lanka has deep associations with one of the earliest Hindu sacred epics Ramayan, dating back to more than 700,000 years ago in Vedic period. According to the legend, the King Ravanasur who was known as the greatest devotee of Lord Shiva (the deity of salvation) ruled the entire island. The reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, called Lord Sri Ram had to fight with Ravanasur (shortly, Ravan) to free Rama’s wife (Goddess Sita) from the captivity of Ravana in Sri Lanka. Lord Sri Ram whose empire Ayodhya was in India was in exile and had to cross the Gulf of Mannar to reach Sri Lanka. Lord Sri Rama with the support of simian army which laid a stone bridge between India and Sri Lanka, known as Ram Sethu crossed the bridge, entered the empire of Lanka and fought with Ravana and took back his consort Sita after defeating Ravan. The sacred saga of the divine King Lord Sri Ram is chanted under the name of Ramayan with utmost reverence by Hindu devotees across the world. Sri Lanka, being the kingdom of the warring counterpart Lord Ravan, has the most pivotal role in the legend. The stone-bridge, in recent times, has come to be known as Adam’s Bridge. A great part of the stone-bridge today lies submerged in the waters of strait and at certain places the water is as shallow as three meters, blocking the passage of ships.
Sri Lanka has the merit of having achieved the overall 92.5% literacy rate. It is also one of the Asian countries with the highest density of road network. The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, formerly called Radio Ceylon, is one of the oldest active broadcasting stations in Asia. Prior to the advent of television network in India, the entertainment and the news programmes broadcast by Radio Ceylon in Indian languages were in high demand in India too for several decades. Hindi movie songs aired under the name Binaca Geet Maala was one of the most successful programmes that had huge stock of highly rated Indian music albums.
The per capita GDP (nominal) as per 2018 estimate was US $4,310 and the Human Development Index was high at 0.770. Sri Lanka is the world’s second largest exporter of high quality tea. ISO considers Sri Lankan tea the cleanest tea in the world when the residue of pesticides is taken as the criterion. The top items of exports were tea and women’s garments in 2016 with tea contributing to 10.4% of total exports. The chief imports included refined petroleum, planes, helicopters and /or space crafts. The quantum of the total exports was US $11.5 billion whereas that of total imports was US$19.7 billion with a trade deficit of US$2.2 billion.
Being ethnically related to India, the island of Sri Lanka has even today deeper association with Indian culture and customs, in spite of majority of its population pertaining to Buddhism. The Hindu temples of Lord Ram are plenty along with statues of the mythological King Ravan.
For tourists, the train journey to and from Kanda through Ella is a lovely experience where they get to see wide stretches of green tea plantations and a lot of scenic locations. Roaming around in an open top jeep in Kaudulla National Park is an activity that lets the visitors see on the way huge herds of elephants, monkeys, owls etc. The nine-arch bridge in Ella at a height of 24 meters stretches to 91 meters amid the thick forest is a spectacular unmissable location. Touted as the eighth wonder of the world, Sigiriya rock is home to abandoned brickwork of stairs, palaces, ponds, canals from the top of which one can have a panoramic view of endless landscape which is about 200 meters below the apex.
With improved tourist infrastructural development projects taken up by Sri Lankan Government, Sri Lanka has of late become a tourist place with countless worth seeing places.