Provinces and districts
Sri Lanka is divided into 9 provinces and 25 district. Each province is administered by a directly-elected provincial council:
The districts are further subdivided into divisional secretariats, and these in turn to "Grama Sevaka" divisions.
Military Sri Lankan soldiers have taken part in many wars throughout its history, including the Boer War and both World Wars (under the command of the British at the time). In the course of the
civil war, the military has been transformed from a ceremonial force to
a modern army. Since 2004, Sri Lankan troops have been a part of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti, which is the country's first major overseas mission.
The military of Sri Lanka is organized into three branches: Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Since independence, its primary mission has been the targeting of armed
groups within the country, most notably engaging in a 25 year long
war with the LTTE. The LTTE is proscribed as a terrorist
organization by 32 countries.
While the national sport in Sri Lanka is volleyball, by far the most popular sport in the country is cricket. Rugby union also enjoys extensive popularity, as do aquatic sports, athletics, Football (soccer) and tennis.
Sri Lanka's schools and colleges regularly organize sports and
athletics teams, competing on provincial and national levels. The Sri Lankan cricket team achieved considerable success beginning in the 1990s, rising from underdog status to winning the 1996 World Cup, as well as the Asia Cup in 1996 and 2004. Sri Lanka remains one of the
leading cricketing nations in the world, with the national team
reaching the finals of Cricket World Cup 2007, where they lost to Australia.
Sri Lanka has a large number of sports stadiums, including the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, the R. Premadasa Stadium and the Rangiri Dumbulla Stadium in Dambulla as well as the Galle International Stadium. The country co-hosted the 1996 Cricket World Cup with India and Pakistan, and has hosted the Asia Cup tournament on numerous occasions. It will also co-host the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Aquatic sports such as boating, surfing, swimming and scuba diving on the coast, the beaches and backwaters attract a large number of Sri Lankans and foreign tourists.
The national radio station, Radio Ceylon is the oldest-running radio station in Asia. It was established in 1923 by Edward Harper just three years after broadcasting was launched in Europe. It remains one of the most popular stations in Asia, with its
programming reaching neighboring Asian nations. The station is managed
by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and broadcasts services in Sinhalese, Tamil, English and Hindi.
Since the 1980s, a large number of private radio stations have also
being introduced, and they have gained commercial popularity and
success. Broadcast television was introduced to the country in 1979
when the (ITN) Independent Television Network was launched. Initially all Television stations were state controlled, but private television networks began broadcasts in 1992. Global television networks from India, Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States are also widely popular, and cable and satellite television is gaining in popularity with Sri Lanka's middle-class. Popular publications include the English language Daily Mirror and The Sunday Observer and The Sunday Times, Divayina, Lankadeepa and Lakbima in Sinhalese and the Tamil publications Dinakaran and Uthayan.
With a literacy rate of 92%, and 83% of the total population having had Secondary Education, Sri Lanka has one of the most literate populations amongst developing nations. An education system which dictates 9 years of Compulsory Schooling for every child is in place, with 99% of the children entering the first grade. A free education system initiated in 1945 by Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara, a former minister of education, has greatly contributed to this. Mr. Kannangara led the establishment of the Madhya Maha Vidyalayas (Central Schools) in different parts of the country in order to provide education to Sri Lanka's rural population. In 1942 a special education committee proposed extensive reforms to establish an efficient and quality education system for the people. However in the 1980s changers to this system saw the
separation the of administration of schools between the central
government and the provincial government. Thus the elite National
Schools are controlled directly by the Ministry of Education and the provincial schools by the provincial government
Most schools in Sri Lanka provide education from grades 1 to 13 in the same institution. Students sit for the GCE Ordinary Level Examination (O/Levels) in grade 11 and the GCE Advanced Level Examination (A/levels) in grade 13, conducted by the Department of Examinations.
These schools are modeled on British colleges. A majority of them are
public, but a number of private schools do exist. While most reputed
National and Private Schools centered around large cities are usually
single-sex institutions, rural provincial schools tend to be
coeducational. In recent decades, a large number of international schools have been established across the nation. In these schools General Certificate of Secondary Education, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge International Examinations are popular education programs.
Sri Lanka has around 16 public universities. They include the University of Colombo, the University of Peradeniya, the University of Kelaniya, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, the University of Moratuwa, the University of Peradeniya, the University of Jaffna, the University of Ruhuna, the Eastern University of Sri Lanka, the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka and the Wayamba University of Sri Lanka. However the lack of space in these institutions and the unwillingness to establish private universities has led to a large number of students been denied entry into formal
universities as well as high undergraduate unemployment. As a result, a
number of public and private institutions have emerged, which provide
specialised education in a variety of fields, such as computer science, business administration and law. These include the government owned Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology and the Institute of Technological Studies.
HELLO !.... SRI LANKA.... | A Land Like No Other....
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka ( known as Ceylon before 1972 and as Taprobane in ancient times) is an island nation in South Asia, located about 31 kilometers (19.3 mi) off the southern coast of India. It is home to around twenty million people. "Sri Lanka, one of the pearls in the Indian Ocean was considered by Marco Polo to be the finest island of its size in all the world, and you'll likely agree after exploring the country's fabled delights."
Because of its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia, and has been a center of Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times.
Today, the country is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation, with
more than a quarter of the population following faiths other than
Buddhism, notably Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The Sinhalese community forms the majority of the population, with Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, forming the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include the Muslim Moors and Malays and the Burghers.
Famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, coconuts and rubber,
Sri Lanka boasts a progressive and modern industrial economy and the
highest per capita income in South Asia. The natural beauty of Sri
Lanka's tropical forests, beaches and landscape, as well as its rich cultural heritage, make it a world famous tourist destination.
After over two thousand years of rule by local kingdoms, parts of Sri Lanka were colonized by Portugal and the Netherlands beginning in the 16th century, before the control of the entire country was ceded to the British Empire in 1815. During World War II, Sri Lanka served as an important base for Allied forces in the fight against the Japanese Empire. A nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century with the aim of
obtaining political independence, which was eventually granted by the
British after peaceful negotiations in 1948.
In ancient times, Sri Lanka was known by a variety of names: ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobane and Arabs referred to it as Serendib (the origin of the word "serendipity"). Ceilão was the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese when they arrived on the island in 1505, which was transliterated into English as Ceylon. In 1972, the official name of the country was changed to "Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka". In 1978 it was changed to "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka".
The current name is derived from the Sanskrit word lanka, meaning "island", which was also the name of the island as described in the ancient Indian epics Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The word "Sri" is a Sanskrit title of sacred.
The one anthem, the one flag and
the one mother
land for all Sri Lankan....
Paleolithic human settlements have been discovered at excavations in several cave
sites in the Western Plains region and the South-western face of the
Central Hills region. Anthropologists believe that some discovered burial rites and certain decorative
artifacts exhibit similarities between the first inhabitants of the
island and the early inhabitants of Southern India.
Recent bioanthropological studies have however dismissed these links,
and have placed the origin of the people to the northern parts of India. One of the first written references to the island is found in the Indian epic Ramayana, which described the emperor Ravana as monarch of the powerful kingdom of Lanka, which was created by the divine sculptor Vishwakarma for Kubera, the treasurer of the Gods. English historian James Emerson Tennent also theorized Galle, a southern city in Sri Lanka, was the ancient seaport of Tarshish from which King Solomon is said to have drawn ivory, peacocks and other valuables. The main written accounts of the country's history are the Buddhist chronicles of Mahavansa and Dipavansa.
The earliest-known inhabitants of the island now known as Sri Lanka were probably the ancestors of the Wanniyala-Aetto people, also known as Veddahs and numbering roughly 3,000. Linguistic analysis has found a correlation of the Sinhalese language with the languages of the Sindh and Gujarat, although most historians believe that the Sinhala community emerged well after the assimilation of various ethnic groups. From the ancient period date some remarkable archaeological sites including the ruins of Sigiriya, the so-called "Fortress in the Sky", and huge public works. Among the latter are large "tanks" or reservoirs, important for conserving water in a climate that alternates rainy seasons with dry times, and elaborate aqueducts,
some with a slope as finely calibrated as one inch to the mile. Ancient
Sri Lanka was also the first in the world to have established a
dedicated hospital in Mihintale in the 4th century BCE. Ancient Sri Lanka was also the world's leading exporter of cinnamon, which was exported to Egypt as early as 1400 BCE. Sri Lanka was also the first Asian nation to have a female ruler in Queen Anula (47–42 BC)
Since ancient times Sri Lanka was ruled by monarchs, most notably of
the Sinha royal dynasty that lasted over 2000 years. The island was
also infrequently invaded by South Indian kingdoms and parts of the
island were ruled intermittently by the Chola dynasty, the Pandya dynasty, the Chera dynasty and the Pallava dynasty. The island was also invaded by the kingdoms of Kalinga (modern Orissa) and those from the Malay Peninsula. Buddhism arrived from India in the 3rd century BCE, brought by Bhikkhu Mahinda, who is believed to have been the son of Mauryan emperor Ashoka. Mahinda's mission won over the Sinhalese monarch Devanampiyatissa of Mihintale,
who embraced the faith and propagated it throughout the Sinhalese
population. The Buddhist kingdoms of Sri Lanka would maintain a large
number of Buddhist schools and monasteries, and support the propagation of Buddhism into Southeast Asia.
Sri Lanka had always been an important port and trading post in the ancient world, and was increasingly frequented by merchant ships from the Middle East, Persia, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia. The islands were known to the first European explorers of South Asia and settled by many groups of Arab and Malay merchants. A Portuguese colonial mission arrived on the island in 1505 headed by the Lourenço de Almeida the son of Francisco de Almeida. At that point the island consisted of three kingdoms, namely Kandy in the central hills, Kotte at the Western coast, and Yarlpanam (Anglicised Jaffna) in the north. The Dutch arrived in the 17th century. Although much of the island came under the
domain of European powers, the interior, hilly region of the island
remained independent, with its capital in Kandy. The British East India Company established control of the island in 1796, declaring it a crown colony in 1802, although the island would not be officially connected with British India. The fall of the kingdom of Kandy in 1815 unified the island under British rule.
European colonists established a series of tea, cinnamon, rubber, sugar, coffee and indigo plantations. The British also brought a large number of indentured workers from Tamil Nadu to work in the plantation economy. The city of Colombo was established as the administrative centre, and the British
established modern schools, colleges, roads and churches that brought
Western-style education and culture to the native people. Increasing grievances over the denial of civil rights, mistreatment and abuse of natives by colonial authorities gave rise to a struggle for independence in the 1930s, when the Youth Leagues opposed the "Ministers' Memorandum," which asked the colonial authority
to increase the powers of the board of ministers without granting
popular representation or civil freedoms. Buddhist scholars and the
Teetotalist Movement also played a vital role in this time. During World War II, the island served as an important Allied military base.
A large segment of the British and American fleet were deployed on the
island, as were tens of thousands of soldiers committed to the war
against Japan in Southeast Asia.
Following the war, popular pressure for independence intensified. The office of Prime Minister of Ceylon was created in advance of independence on 14 October 1947, Don Stephen Senanayake being the first prime minister. On February 4, 1948 the country won its independence as the Commonwealth of Ceylon. On July 21, 1960 Sirimavo Bandaranaike took office as prime minister, and became the world's first female prime minister and the first female head of government in post-colonial Asia. In 1972, during Sirimavo Bandaranaike's second term as prime minister, the country became a republic within the Commonwealth, and the name was changed to Sri Lanka. The island enjoyed good relations with the United Kingdom and had the British Royal Navy stationed at Trincomalee.
Since 1983, there has been on-and-off civil war, predominantly between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers), a separatist militant organization who fight to create an independent state named Tamil Eelam in the North and East of the island.
Sri Lanka Matha
Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya
Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullativu
Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee
Galle, Hambanthota, Matara
Colombo, Gampaha, Kaluthara
Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte 6°54′N79°54′E / 6.9, 79.9
Democratic Socialist Republic
Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa
Mr. D.M. Jayarathne
from the United Kingdom
February 4, 1948
May 22, 1972
65,610 km² (122nd)
25,332 sq mi
July 2008 census
Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)
Drives on the
Geography and climate
The island of Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean, to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. It is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. According to Hindu mythology, a land bridge to the Indian mainland, known as Rama's Bridge, was constructed during the time of Rama by the vanara architect Nala. Often referred to as Adam's Bridge, it now amounts to only a chain of limestone shoals remaining above sea level. According to colonial British reports, this is a natural causeway which was formerly complete, but was breached by a violent storm in 1480. The width of the Palk Strait is small enough for the coast of Sri Lanka to be visible from the furthest point near the Indian town of Rameswaram. The tear drop shaped island consists mostly of flat-to-rolling coastal
plains, with mountains rising only in the south-central part. Amongst
these are Sri-Pada (Adams Peak) and the highest point Pidurutalagala, at 2,524 meters (8,281 ft). The Mahaweli ganga (Mahaweli river) and other major rivers provide fresh water to the population.
Sri Lanka's climate can be described as tropical, and quite hot. Its
position between 5 and 10 north latitude endows the country with a warm
climate, moderated by ocean winds and considerable moisture.
The mean temperature ranges from a low of 16 °C (61 °F) in Nuwara Eliya in the Central Highlands (where frost may occur for several days in the winter) to a high of 32 °C (90 °F) in Trincomalee on the northeast coast (where temperatures may reach 38 °C
(100 °F)). The average yearly temperature for the country as a
whole ranges from 28° to 30 °C (82–86 °F). Day and night
temperatures may vary by 4 to 7 °C (7–13 °F). In January, the
coolest month, many people wear coats and sweaters in the highlands and
elsewhere. May, the hottest period, precedes the summer monsoon rains.
The rainfall pattern is influenced by the monsoon winds of the Indian
Ocean and Bay of Bengal, which encounter the slopes of the Central Highlands,
they unload heavy rains on the mountain slopes and the southwestern
sector of the island. Some of the windward slopes receive up to
2,500 millimeters (98 in) of rain per month, but the leeward slopes in the east and northeast receive little rain. Periodic squalls occur and sometimes tropical cyclones bring overcast skies and rains to the southwest, northeast, and eastern
parts of the island. Between December to March, monsoon winds come from
the northeast, bringing moisture from the Bay of Bengal.
Humidity is typically higher in the southwest and mountainous areas and
depends on the seasonal patterns of rainfall. At Colombo, for example,
daytime humidity stays above 70% all year, rising to almost 90 percent
during the monsoon season in June. Anuradhapura experiences a daytime low of 60% during the
monsoon month of March, but a high of 79% during the November and
December rains. In the highlands, Kandy's daytime humidity usually
ranges between 70 and 79%.
Main cities in Sri Lanka.
Beach scenery in Welligama.
Flora and fauna
The mountains and the southwestern part of the country, known as the
"wet zone," receive ample rainfall (an annual average of 2500
millimeters). Most of the southeast, east, and northern parts of the
country comprise the "dry zone," which receives between 1200 and
1900 mm (47–75 in) of rain annually. Much of the rain in
these areas falls from October to January; during the rest of the year
there is very little precipitation, and all living creatures must
conserve precious moisture. The arid northwest and southeast coasts
receive the least amount of rain — 600 to 1200 mm (24–47 in)
per year — However, though many say that there are no really dry areas
in Sri Lanka, there are many pockets of very dry and abandoned areas
where there is little to no rainwater. Varieties of flowering acacias are well adapted to the arid conditions and flourish on the Jaffna Peninsula. Among the trees of the dry-land forests are some valuable species, such as satinwood, ebony, ironwood, and mahogany and teak. In the wet zone, the dominant vegetation of the lowlands is a tropical evergreen forest, with tall trees, broad foliage, and a dense undergrowth of vines and creepers.
Subtropical evergreen forests resembling those of temperate climates flourish in the higher altitudes. Forests at one time covered nearly
the entire island, but by the late 20th century lands classified as
forests and forest reserves covered around one-third of the land. As the area covered by forests declined, thereby threatening various
species of wildlife, Sri Lanka became the first country in the world to
establish a wildlife sanctuary. Among them, the Ruhunu National Park in the southeast protects herds of elephant, deer, and peacocks, and the Wilpattu National Park in the northwest preserves the habitats of many water birds, such as
storks, pelicans, ibis, and spoonbills. During the Mahaweli Ganga
Program of the 1970s and 1980s in northern Sri Lanka, the government
set aside four areas of land totaling 1,900 km2 (730 sq mi) as national parks. The island has three biosphere reserves, Hurulu, Sinharaja, and the Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya.
The national flower of Sri Lanka is Nil Mahanel (Nymphaeaceae),the national tree is Na (Mesua nagassarium) and the national bird is the Sri Lanka Junglefowl, which is endemic to the country.
Provinces of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is the 53rd most populated nation in the world, with an annual population growth rate of 0.79%. Sri Lanka has a birth rate of 15.63 births per 1,000 people and a death rate of 6.49 deaths per 1,000 people. Population density is the
greatest in western Sri Lanka, especially in and around Colombo. There
is a small population on the island of the Vedda people. These are believed to be the oldest and indigenous ethnic group to inhabit the island. The Sinhalese people form the largest ethnic group in the nation, composing approximately
81.9% of the total population. Tamils are concentrated in the North,
East, Central and Western provinces of the country. Tamils who were brought as indentured
India by British colonists to work on estate plantations, nearly 50% of
whom were repatriated following independence in 1948, are called "Indian Origin" Tamils. They are distinguished from the
native Tamil population that has resided in Sri Lanka since ancient
times. According to 2001 census data Indian Tamils makeup 5.1% of the
Sri Lankan population and, Sri Lankan Tamils 4.3%. Though this figure
only accounted for Sri Lankan Tamils in government-controlled areas,
not accounting for those in rebel-held territories. There is a
significant population (8.0%) of Moors, who trace their lineage to Arab traders and immigrants from the Middle East. Their presence is
concentrated in the cities and the central and eastern provinces. There
are also small ethnic groups such as the Burghers (of mixed European descent) and Malays from Southeast Asia.
Sinhalese and Tamil are the two official languages of Sri Lanka. English is spoken by approximately 10% of the population, and is widely used
for education, scientific and commercial purposes. Members of the
Burgher community speak variant forms of Portuguese Creole and Dutch with varying proficiency, while members of the Malay community speak a form of
Creole Malay that is unique to the island. Sri Lanka also enjoys significant religious diversity.
Government and politics
The Constitution of Sri Lanka establishes a democratic, socialist republic in Sri Lanka, which is also a unitary state. The government is a mixture of the presidential system and the parliamentary system. The President of Sri Lanka is the head of state, the commander in chief of the armed forces, as well as head of government, and is popularly elected for a six-year term. In the exercise of duties, the President is responsible to the Parliament of Sri Lanka, which is a unicameral 225-member legislature. The President appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers composed of elected members of parliament. The President's deputy is the Prime Minister, who leads the ruling party in parliament and shares many executive responsibilities, mainly in domestic affairs.
Members of parliament are elected by universal (adult) suffrage based on a modified proportional representation system by district to a six-year term. The primary modification is
that, the party that receives the largest number of valid votes in each
constituency gains a unique "bonus seat." The president may summon,
suspend, or end a legislative session and dissolve Parliament any time
after it has served for one year. The parliament reserves the power to
make all laws. On July 1, 1960 the people of Sri Lanka elected the first-ever female head of government in Prime Minister Ms. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Her daughter Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga served multiple terms as prime minister and as president from 1999 to
2005. The current president and prime minister, both of whom took
office on November 21, 2005, are Mr.Mahinda Rajapaksa and Mr. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake respectively.
Sri Lanka has enjoyed democracy with universal suffrage since 1931. Politics in Sri Lanka are controlled by rival coalitions led by the left-wing Sri Lanka Freedom Party, headed by President Rajapaksa, the comparatively right-wing United National Party led by former prime minister Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe and Marxist-Nationalist JVP. There are also many smaller Buddhist, socialist and Tamil nationalist political parties that oppose the separatism of the LTTE but demand regional autonomy and increased civil rights. Since 1948, Sri Lanka has been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations. It is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Colombo Plan, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Through the Cold War-era, Sri Lanka followed a foreign policy of non-alignment but has remained closer to the United States and Western Europe. The military of Sri Lanka comprises the Sri Lankan Army, the Sri Lankan Navy and the Sri Lankan Air Force. These are administered by the Ministry of Defence. Since the 1980s, the army has led the government response against the Marxist militants of the JVP and now the LTTE militant forces. Sri Lanka receives considerable military assistance from Pakistan and China.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Sri Lanka became a plantation economy, famous for its production and export of cinnamon, rubber and Ceylon tea,
which remains a trademark national export. The development of modern
ports under British rule raised the strategic importance of the island
as a centre of trade. During World War II, the island hosted important military installations and Allied forces. However, the plantation economy aggravated poverty and economic inequality. From 1948 to 1977 socialism strongly influenced the government's economic policies. Colonial
plantations were dismantled, industries were nationalized and a welfare state established. While the standard of living and literacy improved
significantly, the nation's economy suffered from inefficiency, slow growth and lack of foreign investment.
From 1977 the UNP government began incorporating
privatization, deregulation and promotion of private enterprise.
While the production and export of tea, rubber, coffee, sugar and other
agricultural commodities remains important, the nation has moved
steadily towards an industrialized economy with the development of food processing, textiles, telecommunications and finance.
By 1996 plantation crops made up only 20% of export, and further
declined to 16.8% in 2005 (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles
and garments have reached 63%. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) grew at an average annual rate of 5.5% during the early 1990s, until a
drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8%
in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-2000, with average growth of
5.3%. The year of 2001 saw the first recession in the country's history, as a result of power shortages, budgetary problems, the global slowdown, and continuing civil strife. Signs of recovery appeared after the 2002 ceasefire. The Colombo Stock Exchange reported the highest growth in the world for 2003, and today Sri Lanka has the highest per capital income in South Asia.
In April 2004, there was a sharp reversal in economic policy after the government headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party was defeated by a coalition made up of Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the leftist-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna called the United People's Freedom Alliance. The new government stopped the privatization of state enterprises and reforms of state utilities such as power and petroleum,
and embarked on a subsidy program called the Rata Perata economic
program. Its main theme to support the rural and suburban SMEs and
protect the domestic economy from external influences, such as oil
prices, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Sri Lanka, with an income per head of $1,350, still lags behind some
of its neighbors including Maldives and Mauritius but is ahead of its
giant neighbor India. Its economy grew by an average of 5% during the
1990s during the 'War for Peace' era. According to the Sri Lankan
central bank statistics, the economy was estimated to have grown by 7%
last year, although inflation had reached 20%. It should be noted that
Sri Lanka's central bank statistics have been called into question over
allegations of political interference and institutional decay. Parts of Sri Lanka, particularly the South and East coast, were devastated by the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
The economy was briefly buoyed by an influx of foreign aid and
tourists, but this was disrupted with the reemergence of the civil war
resulting in increased lawlessness in the countryand a sharp decline in tourism
Culture and arts
The island is the home of two main traditional cultures: the
Sinhalese (centered in the ancient cities of Kandy and Anuradhapura)
and the Tamil (centered in the city of Jaffna). In more recent times a
British colonial culture was added, and lately Sri Lanka, particularly
in the urban areas,
has experienced a dramatic makeover in the western mold. Until
recently, for example, most Sri Lankans, certainly those in the
villages, have eaten traditional food, engaged in traditional crafts
and expressed themselves through traditional arts. But economic growth and intense economic competition in developed countries has spilled over to most of Sri Lanka, producing changes that might
variously be identified as progress, westernisation or a loss of
identity and assimilation.
Sri Lankans have added western influences to the customary diet such as rice and curry, pittu (mixture of fresh rice meal, very lightly roasted and
mixed with fresh grated coconut, then steamed in a bamboo mould). Kiribath (cooked in thick coconut cream for this unsweetened rice-pudding which is accompanied by a sharp chili
relish called "lunumiris"), wattalapam (rich pudding of Malay origin
made of coconut milk, jaggery, cashew nuts, eggs, and various spices including cinnamon cloves and nutmeg), kottu, and hoppers ("appa"), batter cooked rapidly in a hot curved pan, accompanied by
eggs, milk or savouries. Middle Eastern influences and practices are
found in traditional Moor dishes. While Dutch and Portuguese influences are found with the
island's Burgher community preserving their culture through traditional
favourites such as Lamprais (rice cooked in stock and baked in a banana
leaf), Breudher (Dutch Christmas cake) and Bolo Fiado (Portuguese-style layer cake).
Every year on or about April 13th Sinhala and Tamil people celebrate Sinhala and Tamil New Year Festival, and Muslims celebrate Ramadan. Esala Perahera (A-suh-luh peh-ruh-ha-ruh) is the grand festival of Esala held in Sri
Lanka. It is very grand with elegant costumes. Happening in July or
August in Kandy, it has become a unique symbol of Sri Lanka. It is a
Buddhist festival consisting of dances and richly-decorated elephants.
There are fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandian dances and various other
cultural dances. The elephants are usually adorned with lavish
garments. The festival ends with the traditional 'diya-kepeema'. The
elephant is paraded around the city bearing the tooth of Buddha. However the new year for tamils have been established as being on January 14th from this year.
Cinema Sri Lankan cinema in past years has featured subjects such as family
relationships, love stories and the years of conflict between the
military and Tamil Tiger rebels. Many films are in the Sinhalese language and the Sri Lankan cinematic style is similar to Indian cinema.
The first film to be produced and shown in Sri Lanka was Kadawunu Poronduwa (The Broken Promise) which was released in 1947. The first colour film of Sri Lanka was Ran Muthu Doova.
Afterwards there were many Sinhalese movies produced in Sri Lanka and some of them, such as Nidhanaya, received several international film awards. The most influential filmmaker in the history of Sri Lankan cinema is Lester James Peiris who has directed many movies of excellent quality which led to global acclaim. His latest film, Wekanda Walawwa ("Mansion by the Lake") became the first movie to be submitted from Sri Lanka for the Best Foreign Language film award at the Academy Awards. In 2005 the director Vimukthi Jayasundara became the first Sri Lankan to win the prestigious Camera d’Or award for Best First Film, or any award for that matter, at the Cannes Film Festival for his Sinhalese language film Sulanga Enu Pinisa (The Forsaken Land). Controversial filmmaker Asoka Handagama's
films are considered by many in the Sri Lankan film world to be the
best films of honest response to the ethnic conflict currently raging
in the country. Prasanna Vithanage is one of Sri Lanka's most notable filmmakers. His films have won many
awards, both local and international. Recent releases like 'Sooriya
Arana', 'Samanala thatu', and 'Hiripoda wessa' have attracted Sri
Lankans to cinemas. Sri Lankan films are usually in the Sinhalese
language. Tamil language movies are also filmed in Sri Lanka but they are not part of Kollywood which is Indian Tamil cinema. However some Kollywood films are based in Sri Lanka as well.
Music The earliest music came from the theater at a time when the traditional open-air drama (referred to in Sinhala as Kolam, Sokari and Nadagam). In 1903 the first music album, Nurthi, was released through Radio Ceylon. Also Vernon Corea introduced Sri Lankan music in the English Service of Radio Ceylon.
In the early 1960s, Indian music in films greatly influenced Sri Lankan music and later Sri Lankan stars like Sunil Shantha found greater popularity among Indian people. By 1963, Radio Ceylon had
more Indian listeners than Sri Lankan ones. The notable songwriters Mahagama Sekara and Ananda Samarakoon made a Sri Lankan music revolution. At the peak of this revolution, musicians such as W. D. Amaradeva, H.R. Jothipala, Milton Mallawarachchi, M.S. Fernando, Annesley Malewana and Clarence Wijewardene did great work.
A very popular type of music is the so-called Baila, a kind of dance music that originated from Portuguese music introduced to the island in colonial times.
Sri Lanka has a multi ethnic and multi religious population.
Buddhism constitutes the religious faith of about 70% of the population
of the island, most of whom follow the Theravada school of Buddhism. According to traditional Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced into Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BCE by Venerable Mahinda, the son of the Emperor Ashoka, during the reign of Sri Lanka's King Devanampiyatissa. During this time, a sapling of the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment was brought to Sri Lanka and the first
monasteries were established under the sponsorship of the Sri Lankan
king. The Pali Canon (Thripitakaya), having previously been preserved as an oral tradition, was first committed to writing in Sri Lanka around 30 BC.
Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism of any Buddhist nation, with the Sangha having existed in a largely unbroken lineage since its introduction in
the 2nd century BCE. During periods of decline, the Sri Lankan monastic
lineage was revived through contact with Thailand and Burma. Periods of Mahayana influence, as well as official neglect under colonial rule, created
great challenges for Theravada Buddhist institutions in Sri Lanka, but
repeated revivals and resurgences — most recently in the 19th century —
have kept the Theravada tradition alive for over 2000 years.
The second largest religion is Hinduism. Hinduism was primarily established in Sri Lanka by migrants and often invaders from southern India, and Hindus now constitute seven to fifteen percent of the population,mostly of the Shaivite school. Followers of Islam comprise approximately eight percent of the population, having been brought to the island by Arab traders over the course of many centuries. European colonists introduced Christianity to the country in the 16th century, and the religion has been adopted by around six percent of the population. There also was a small population of Zoroastrian immigrants from India (Parsis) who settled in Ceylon during the period of British rule. As a result of emigration, few remain, yet they have played a
significant role in the growth of the country. The former finance
minister of Sri Lanka, Nariman Choksy, was a Parsi. Other famous Parsi families in Sri Lanka include the Captain family and the Pestongee family.
Religion plays an important part in the life and culture of Sri Lankans. The Buddhist majority observe Poya Days, once per month according to the Lunar calendar. The Hindus and Muslims also observe their own holidays. There are many Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka and many mosques, Hindu temples and churches across the island, especially in areas where respective communities are concentrated. Buddhists are distributed across most parts of the island except in the north. Hindus are concentrated in north, east, and central high lands. Christians, particularly Roman Catholics are mainly concentrated along the western coastal belt. Muslims are concentrated in several pockets along the coast and in interior.
All religious communities are represented in western province and in
other urban centers in sizable numbers.