Sri Lanka – an island and a separate independent state, located in the Indian ocean a few degrees North of the equator and South-East of India. The area of Sri Lanka is equal to such States as Latvia or Lithuania.
The local population since the most ancient times, as now, calls the island “Lanka”, which means “Land”, and the prefix “Sri ” – adds a description of this land as blessed. In ancient times, merchants-Arabs called the island “Serendib” or island of gems. The word “Serendipity” is translated as something that suddenly opens in front of you, admires, amazes and surprises. This is Sri Lanka called Serendip described by Cimbalom the sailor in the famous folk tale “1000 and 1 night”. At all times, seafarers visited Lanka to buy unique spices and precious stones: sapphires, rubies, topazes, emeralds, moonstone and many others, from which they made jewelry for kings and used to pay for the goods.
Until the middle of the 16th century the island was called “Sinhaladvipa”, in Sinhalese – Lion island. The Portuguese, who ruled the island from 1505 to 1658, translated the name of the island for convenience and called it Ceilao. The Dutch during the period of colonization from 1656 to 1798 changed the name to Ceylan, and the British, in turn, to Ceylon, which was kept and remained behind the island until independence from great Britain in February 1948. And only in 1972 the country officially changed its colonial name Ceylon to Sri Lanka.
Since independence, Sri Lanka has been a democratic socialist Republic under an elected 6-year President. The President appoints the Prime Minister. And in 1960, the world’s first female Prime Minister was elected. The legislative body is the national state Assembly or the unicameral Parliament, which consists of two hundred and twenty-five deputies.
Sri Lanka has a population of 21 million and is a mosaic of different ethnic and religious groups, of which two are major: Buddhist Sinhalese (75 %) and Hindu Tamils (15 %); the remaining 10% are Christians and Muslims.
Sri Lankans have an average life expectancy of 75 years and a literacy rate of 91 per cent.
The country’s main exports are clothing, followed by tea; rubber, coconuts and precious stones. Tourism is also vital to the island’s national economy, while remittances from hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans working abroad remain significant.