Sri Lanka

“Ceylon” redirects here. For the time period of 1948–1972, see Dominion of Ceylon. For other uses, see Ceylon (disambiguation).
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
ශ්‍රී ලංකා ප්‍රජාතාන්ත්‍රික සමාජවාදී ජනරජය
இலங்கை சனநாயக சமத்துவ குடியரசு
Flag Emblem

Sri Lanka Matha.ogg

Sri Lanka Matha
Mother Sri Lanka
Capital Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte[1][2]
6°54′N 79°54′E
Largest city Colombo
Official language(s) SinhalaTamil
Demonym Sri Lankan
Government Semi-presidentialDemocratic SocialistUnitary Republic
 - President Mahinda Rajapaksa
 - Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne
 - Speaker of the Parliament Chamal Rajapaksa
 - Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake
Legislature Parliament
Independence from the United Kingdom
 - Dominion (Self rule) 4 February 1948
 - Republic 22 May 1972
 - Total 65,610 km2 (122nd)
25,332 sq mi
 - Water (%) 4.4
 - 2012 census 20,277,597[3] (57th)
 - Density 323/km2 (40th)
836.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 - Total $116.541 billion[4] (64th)
 - Per capita $5,673[4] (111th)
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 - Total $59.095 billion[4] (68th)
 - Per capita $2,877[4] (123rd)
Gini (2010) 36[5] (medium)
HDI (2011) Increase0.691[6] (medium) (97th)
Currency Sri Lankan Rupee(LKR)
Time zone SLST (UTC+5:30)
Date formats dd/mm/yy(AD)
Drives on the left
ISO 3166 code LK
Internet TLD .lk.ලංකා.இலங்கை
Calling code 94

Sri Lanka (Listeni/ʃr ˈlɑːŋkə//srˈlɑːŋkə/, or /srˈlæŋkə/;[7][8] Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකාව,Tamil: இலங்கை), 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 (play /sɨˈlɒn//sˈlɒn/, or /sˈlɒn/), Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest across the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait, and the Maldives to the southwest.

As a result of its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia.[9] It was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road.[10] Sri Lanka has also been a center of the Buddhistreligion and culture from ancient times, being the nation where the Buddhist teachings were first written down as well as the oldest continually Buddhist country.[11] Sri Lanka boasts a diverse range of cultures, languages and religions. The Sinhalese people form the majority of the population; Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, form the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include MoorsBurghersKaffirsMalays and the aboriginal Vedda people.[12]

Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state which is governed by a semi-presidential system with its official seat of government in Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, the capital. The country is famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, gemstonescoconuts, rubber and cinnamon, the last of which is native to the country.[13] Sri Lanka has been called The Pearl of the Indian Ocean.[14]The island contains tropical forests, and diverse landscapes with highbiodiversity. The country lays claim to a long and varying history of over three thousand years, having one of the longest documented histories in the world.[15]Sri Lanka’s rich culture can be attributed to the many different communities on the island.[16] The country is a founding member state of SAARC and a member of United NationsCommonwealth of NationsG77 and Non-Aligned Movement. As of 2011, Sri Lanka was one of the fastest growing economies of the world.[17]




Main article: Names of Sri Lanka

In ancient times, Sri Lanka was known by a variety of names: Known in India as Lanka or Sinhala, ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobane[18] play /təˈprɒbən/ and Arabs referred to it as Serendib (the origin of the word “serendipity“).[19] Ceilão was the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguesewhen they arrived in 1505,[20] which was transliterated into English asCeylon.[21] As a British crown colony, the island was known as Ceylon, and achieved independence under the name Dominion of Ceylon in 1948.

In Sinhala the country is known as ශ්‍රී ලංකා śrī laṃkāIPA: [ʃɾiːˈlaŋkaː], and the island itself as ලංකාව laṃkāvaIPA: [laŋˈkaːʋə].[citation needed] In Tamil they are both இலங்கை ilaṅkaiIPA: [iˈlaŋɡai]. The name derives from the Sanskrit श्री लंका śrī (venerable) and lankā (island),[22] the name of the island in the ancient Indian epics Mahabharata and the Ramayana. 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 the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”.[23] 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.[24]