The Aryans arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C. 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.

Geographically, Sri Lanka is an island situated in the Indian Ocean, at the base of the Indian Sub-Continent, 880 km north of the equator. Sri Lanka has a pleasant tropical climate. The average temperature of the low lands ranges between 25-30 degrees Celsius. It is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country with a diverse and rich culture with a total population of 19 million.
  Sri Lanka at a Glance
Population
20,926,315
   
Capital
Colombo (Administrative)
Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte (Legislative)
   
Area
Total: 65,610 sq km
Land: 64,740 sq km
Water: 870 sq km
   
GDP per Capita
U.S. $4,700
   
Ethnic Groups
Sinhalese 73.8%, Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%, Indian Tamil 4.6%, Sri Lankan Tamil 3.9%, other 0.5%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)
 
Agriculture - Products
Rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish
    
Literacy Percent
Male: 92.3%
Female: 89.1% (2001 census)

Language
Sinhala, Tamil, English

Climate
Pleasant tropical climate.
Tropical monsoon, northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)

Currency
Sri Lankan Rupees (Rs)

Religion
Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)

Legal System
Mixture of English Common Law, Roman-Dutch, Islamic, Sinhalese, and Customary Law

    

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