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Sri Lanka Information - Page 2
The Veddha people were the first known inhabitants of Sri Lanka. Sinhalese and Tamil migrants arrived from India between the fourth and sixth century BC. Buddhism was introduced in the third century BC by the son of the Indian Emperor Ashoka.

Anuradhapura, the first capital of Sri Lanka, flourished for over a thousand years until an invasion in 993. Polonnaruwa became Sri Lanka's next capital city and the City of Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhala kings.

The sixteenth century saw the beginning of colonisation of the island by Europeans. The Portuguese were the first to arrive, followed by the Dutch and the British.

Under British rule the island was known as Ceylon. British rule lasted from the beginning of the nineteenth century until 1948. The country's name was not changed to Sri Lanka until 1972.

Over the years tensions grew between the majority Sinhalese population and Tamil separatists. Fighting broke out in the 1980s, followed by years of violence. At the end of 2001 Norway acted as an intermediary in peace negotiations.

Sri Lanka is traditionally an agricultural country. However industry now provides a greater proportion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than agriculture. The services sector is the largest earner of GDP.

Rice and tea are important crops. Spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom are grown. Other crops are grains, sugarcane, pulses, oilseed and coconuts. Cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens are reared. The fishing fleet provides fish for home consumption and for export.

Principal industries are food processing, clothing and textiles. Other industries include petroleum refining, cement and rubber processing.

Telecommunications, insurance and banking are growing sectors of the economy.

Sri Lanka aims to build up tourism as an industry capable of playing a significant role in the economic advancement of the country whilst preserving the country's cultural values, ethos and its rich natural endowment.

Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans work in other countries, mainly in the Middle East. Money remitted from Sri Lankans working abroad is an important source of foreign exchange. (2008)

Art in Sri Lanka dates back to prehistory, an example of rock art can be found in caves near the Tantirimale rock temple.

The island has a number of outdoor rock sculptures of the Buddha as well as rock frescoes. The World Heritage cave monastery, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, contains many Buddhist mural paintings and statues.

Crafts on the island include gold and silver work, weaving and batik designs. Masks are made for use in theatre and dance.

Traditional dancing often has a religious theme and the drum is an essential part of many ceremonies.

Literature in Sri Lanka dates back two thousand years. Shyam Selvadurai, is a Sri Lankan born author who has achieved international fame. His novel "Funny Boy" is about growing up in Colombo in the years leading up to the 1983 riots.

Cricket is a popular sport in Sri Lanka. In 1996 Sri Lanka was the winner of the Cricket World Cup. Other popular team sports are football, volleyball and a Sri Lankan form of baseball.

Water sports include swimming, wind surfing and sailing.

Religious holidays and New Year (April) are celebrated. Independence Day is on 4 February.

News is available from Newslink.

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