More About Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka which is officially called as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island in the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. The island was known as Ceylon from 1815-1948. Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.

Sri Lanka has a documented history that spans over for 3000 years. Its' geographic location and deep harbors made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to World War II. Sri Lanka is a diverse country, home to many religions, ethnicities and languages. It is the land of the Sinhalese, Tamil, Moors, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Vedda. Sri Lanka has a rich Buddhist heritage, and the first known Buddhist writings were composed on the island. The country's recent history has been marred by a thirty-year civil war which was ended in a military victory in 2009

Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a presidential system. The capital, Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, is a suburb of the largest city, Colombo. Sri Lanka is popular in exporting tea, coffee, gemstones, coconuts, rubber, and the native cinnamon. Sri Lanka also known as "the Pearl of the Indian Ocean" ,because of its natural beauty, the geographical shape and its' location and mostly because of "the nation of smiling people". The island contains tropical forests and diverse landscapes with high biodiversity

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According to the International Monetary Fund, Sri Lanka has a yearly gross domestic output of US$64.9 billion as of 2012. It has a GDP of US$126.8 billion in terms of purchasing power parity. With a nominal value of US$3,138 and a PPP(Purchasing Power Parity) value of US$6,135. Sri Lanka is on the second place in the South Asian region in terms of per capita income. Sri Lankan economy has recorded a GDP growth of 8.3% in 2011. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Sri Lanka became a plantation economy famous for its' production and export of cinnamon, rubber and Ceylon tea, which remains as a trademark national export. The development of modern ports under British rule raised the strategic importance of the island as a centre of the trade. From 1948 to 1977 socialism strongly influenced the government's economic policies. Colonial plantations were dismantled, industries were nationalized and a welfare state established. In 1977 the Free market economy was introduced to the country, incorporating personification, deregulation and the promotion of the private enterprise.

While the production and the exporting of tea, rubber, coffee, sugar and other commodities remain important, industrialization has increased the importance of food processing, textiles, telecommunications and finance. The country's main economic sectors are tourism, tea export, clothing, rice production and other agricultural products. In addition to these economic sectors, there is overseas employment, especially in the Middle East which contributes substantially in foreign exchange. As of 2010, the service sector makes up by 60% of GDP and the industrial sector by 28%, and the agriculture sector by 12%. The private sector accounts for 85% of the economy. India can be identified as the largest trading partner of Sri Lanka. Economic disparities exist between the provinces such as the Western province contributed 45.1% of the GDP and the Southern province and the Central province contributed 10.7% and 10%, respectively. With the end of the war, the Northern province reported a record 22.9% GDP growth in 2010.

The per capita income of Sri Lanka has been doubled since 2005. During the same period, poverty has been dropped from 15.2% to 7.6%, the unemployment has been dropped from 7.2% to 4.9%. The market capitalization of CSE(Colombo Stock Exchange) has quadrupled and the budget deficit has been doubled. 90% of the households in Sri Lanka are electrified, 87.3% of the population have access to safe drinking water and 39% have access to pipe-borne water. The income inequality has been also dropped in the recent years which was indicated by a GINI coefficient of 0.36 in 2010. Sri Lanka's cellular subscriber base has been shown a staggering 550% growth, from 2005 to 2010. Sri Lanka was the first country in the South Asian region to introduce 3G (Third Generation), 3.5G HSDPA, 3.75G HSUPA and 4G LTE mobile broadband Internet technologies

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Sri Lanka is on the 57th place in the list of most populated countries in the world which consisted of 20,277,597 people, and an annual population growth rate of 0.73%. Sri Lanka has a birth rate of 17.6 births per 1,000 people and a death rate of 6.2 deaths per 1,000 people. Western province of Sri Lanka has the highest population density. Sinhalese are the largest ethnic group in the country which consisted of 74.88% of the total population. Sri Lankan Tamils are the second major ethnic group in the island, with a percentage of 11.2. Sri Lankan Moors comprises of 9.2%. Tamil people from India were brought into the country as indentured labourers by British colonists to work on the estate plantations. Nearly 50% of them were repatriated when Sri Lanka got the independence in 1948. The remaining Tamil people from that group is identified as the native Tamil population who have resided in Sri Lanka since the ancient times. There is also a few number of small ethnic groups such as the Burghers (people who are mixed of the European descent) and Austronesian people from Southeast Asia. Moreover, there is a small population of Vedda people who are believed to be the original indigenous group that was inhabited in the island.

Sinhalese and Tamil are the two official languages in Sri Lanka. The Constitution defines English as the link language. English 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 is also a multi-religious country. 70% are Buddhists and most of them follow the Theravada school of Buddhism. Most of the Buddhists are from the Sinhalese ethnic group. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BCE by Venerable Mahinda. A sapling of the Bodhi Tree in which under the Buddha attained enlightenment was brought to Sri Lanka during the same time. The Pali Canon (Thripitakaya), having previously been preserved as an oral tradition, was first committed to write in Sri Lanka around 30 BCE. Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism of any predominately Buddhist nation,with the Sangha having existed in a largely unbroken lineage since its introduction in the 2nd century BCE. During the periods of decline, the Sri Lankan monastic lineage was revived through contact with Thailand and Burma. Buddhism is given special recognition in the Constitution which requires Sri Lankan to "protect and foster the Buddha Sasana".

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Human rights and media

The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (formerly Radio Ceylon) is the oldest-running radio station in Asia,established in 1923 by Edward Harper just three years after broadcasting began in Europe.The station broadcasts services in Sinhalese, Tamil, English and Hindi. Since the period of 1980s, a large number of private radio stations have also been introduced. Broadcast television was introduced to the country in 1979 when the Independent Television Network was launched. Initially all Television stations were state controlled, but the private television networks began to broadcast in 1992. As of 2010, 51 newspapers (30 Sinhala, 10 Tamil, 11 English) were published and 34 TV stations and 52 radio stations were in operation.

Sri Lanka’s new government has taken several positive steps to protect the human rights of people in Sri Lanka including lifting media restrictions, ceasing a pervasive culture of surveillance, and reviewing all cases of those detained under the country’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act.

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Sri Lanka has one of the most literate populations amongst developing nations in which the literacy rate of 92.5%,.Its' youth literacy rate stands at 98%, computer literacy rate at 35% and primary school enrollment rate at over 99%. An education system which dictates 9 years of compulsory schooling for every child is in place. The free education system which was established in 1945 by Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara and A. Ratnayake. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world that provides an universal free education from primary to tertiary stage

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 children. In 1942 a special education committee proposed an extensive reforms to establish an efficient and quality education system for the people. However in the 1980s changes 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. Sri Lanka has approximately 9675 government schools, 817 private schools and Pirivenas.The number of public universities in Sri Lanka is 15.However, lack of responsiveness of the education system to labour market requirements, disparities in access to quality education, lack of an effective linkage between secondary and tertiary education remain major challenges for the education sector.A number of private, degree awarding institutions have emerged in recent times to fill in these gaps. But still, the participation at tertiary level education hovers around 5.1%.The proposed private university bill has been withdrawn by the Higher Education Ministry after university students’ heavy demonstrations and resistance

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While the national sport in Sri Lanka is volleyball, by far the most popular sport in the country is cricket. Rugby is also enjoyed by an extensive popularity, as well as athletics, football (soccer) and tennis. Sri Lanka's schools and colleges regularly organize sports events, competing on provincial and national levels.

The Sri Lanka national cricket team achieved many victories such as rising from underdog status to winning the 1996 Cricket World Cup. They also became the runners up of the Cricket World Cup in 2007, 2011. And Sri Lankan cricket team became the champions in ICC T20 cricket format in 2014 and became the runners up in 2009 and 2012 in the same format. Former Sri Lankan off-spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan has been rated as the greatest Test match bowler ever by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. Sri Lanka has won the Asia Cup in 1986, 1997, 2004, 2008 and 2014. Current world records for highest team score in all three formats of the game are also held by Sri Lanka. The country co-hosted the Cricket World Cup in 1996, 2011 and have hosted the 2012 ICC World Twenty20.

Sri Lankan athletes have won two medals at Olympic Games, one silver, by Mr. Duncan White at 1948 London Olympics for men's 400 metres hurdles and one silver medal by Mrs. Susanthika Jayasinghe in 2000 Sydney Olympics for women's 200 metres. In 1973, Mohammed Lafir won the World Billiards Championship, highest feat of a Sri Lankan in a Cue sport. Also there are many Aquatic sports such as boating, surfing, swimming, kitesurfing and scuba diving on the coast. The beaches and backwaters attracts a large number of Sri Lankans and foreign tourists . There are two styles of martial arts native to Sri Lanka,such that Cheena di and Angampora

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