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Sri Lanka

The Jami Ul Alfar Jummah (or Second Cross Street) mosque in ColomboThe island of Sri Lanka lies off the southeast coast of India, in the Indian Ocean. Flat, grassy plains cover most of the island; these lowland regions have a hot, humid climate. In the south, the land rises to mountainous uplands, covered by rainforests. Here the climate is wetter and cooler, with a rainy season between May and July. Sri Lanka has one of the widest varieties of plant and animal life on the planet, with a fifth of the species found there are unique to the island. Despite 25 years of civil war (1983–2009), today Sri Lanka is one of South Asia’s fastest-developing countries. Its largest city, Colombo, is often referred to as the country’s capital, although its official capital, Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, is in one of Colombo's outer suburbs. 


A map of Sri Lanka

Sigirya Rock Fortress, near Dambulla. This site was chosen by King Kasyapa (AD 477–495) for his new capital. He built a palace on...Read More >>Sigirya Rock Fortress, near Dambulla. This site was chosen by King Kasyapa (AD 477–495) for his new capital. He built a palace on the top of a rock and decorated its sides with wall paintings. On a small plateau halfway up the side of the rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name comes from the Sinhala word for Lion Rock.

Fishermen perch on sticks in southern Sri Lanka

People

Around 85% of Sri Lankans live in the countryside, while the most densely populated areas are around the largest city, Colombo. Sri Lanka is home to many ethnic and religious groups. According to legend, the Sinhalese, which is by far the largest group, are descendants of northern Indians who settled on the island around 2500 years ago. Most Sinhalese are Buddhists.
People on a beach in Sri Lanka
A Tamil drummer takes part in a procession at the Hindu Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple

Tamils

The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree in northern Sri Lanka was planted by early Buddhist settlers in 288 BC, and is the oldest known human-planted tree in the world.

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