All about...#40 - Sri Lanka

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ALL ABOUT SRI LANKA

Brought to you by MrBLOGGER and TheNatureThread

Introduction

Sri Lanka is an island nation located just south of India in the Indian Ocean. It has had centuries of unique and interesting history which shape it today through buildings, people, and languages as it heads on to the 21st century. Many people have heard about Sri Lanka, but this blog will tell you all about it!

Physical Geography

Sri Lanka is known as the Teardrop of India, due to its shape and location off the coast of India's Tamil Nadu, in the Indian Ocean. To the east is the Bay of Bengal, and to the west the Laccadive Sea. To the north it almost connects to India at the Palk Strait.

The south-center area of the nation is mountainous and dotted with lakes, being home to Pidurutalagala, or Mount Pedro, the tallest mountain. Sri Lanka is of course famous for it's beaches all along it's coast on the various lagoons and bays. Some of the most famous are Negombo, Ventura, and Beruwala in the west, Unawatuna, Dalawella in the south, and Jungle in the east, the list goes on. Sri Lanka also hosts a warm tropical climate, with the southwestern portion being considered rainforest.

Sri Lanka is a haven for animal lovers, especially if you like elephants and marine life. The Sri Lankan elephant is an endangered species, but there are some sanctuaries which take good care of them but not all of them :(

Sri Lanka also has some interesting caves, but the best preserved are the Dambulla cave temples in the center of the island. These temples are a World Heritage Site and are significant to the culture of Buddhists as well as Hindus, featuring many statues of Buddha, as well as Hindu deities and Sri Lankan kings. And that's not to mention waterfalls! The tallest is Bambarakanda, but there are many more, primarily in the central region, such as Ramboda, Rawana, and Baker's falls.

Sunset in a Sri Lanka beach
Ella Valley in the mountains

Political Geography

Sri Lanka has a population of 21.5 million, being the 58th most populous nation. Its population has been growing at a moderate rate, its birth rate being 15.3 (per 1,000).

Sri Lanka currently has nine provinces. They are: Western Province, Central Province, Southern Province, Uva Province, Sabaragamuwa Province. North Western Province, North Central Province, Nothern Province. 7 of these provinces were founded during the time and have strong provincial capitals.

Sri Lanka currently has two capitals. Colombo is the economic capital, and Kotte is the administrative capital. Colombo has a larger population at 750 thousand people. Other large cities include Kandy, Anuradhapura, and Ratnapura. Sri Lanka has 10 cities with between 100,000 and 1 million people. The reason being that the country is not much urban.

People/Demographics/Culture

Sri Lanka, just like its northern neighbor, is a diverse and multicultural nation, but in a much more compact space. For starters, the demographics of the country revolves around two main ethnic groups: the Tamils, and the Sinhalese.

The Tamils mostly live in India, but 3 million of them live across the Palk Strait, making up 15%, of the population, 11% of them being native to the island, and 4% being Indian Tamils. The Tamil are a Dravidian group, predominantly Hindu.

The Sinhalese, making up the majority at 75%, live mainly on the island, but despite being in the south of the Indian subcontinent, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, thought to have migrated from northern India in the 5th century BCE.

The duality of the predominantly Hindu Tamil and mostly Buddhist Sinhalese has shaped the country for a long time. The Tamil are concentrated in the north and the east coast, while the Sinhala mostly live in the south, west and center. The Indian Tamil community is mainly in a small part of central Sri Lanka. These are 2 very interesting groups with rich cultures which we will tell you more about, but if we look past them, we can find a plethora of unique smaller groups. For example, the 3rd largest ethnic groups are the Moors, who are descendants of the Arabs who traded with the island. After that there are many much smaller groups but they are worth mention, such as the indigenous Veddas, Malays, European descended Burghers, and African Kaffirs.

As for religion, 70% are Buddhist and 12% Hindu, roughly corresponding to ethnic lines. After that, 9% are Muslim, mainly the Moors and some Sinhala and Tamil. A significant portion of the Sri Lankan Tamils, as well as some of the Sinhalese are Christian, making 7% of the population.

All the peoples of Sri Lanka have a rich culture and tradition.

History

The beginning of Sri Lankan history begins with the prehistoric peoples that settled the area about 100,000 years ago, a bit time after Sri Lanka split apart from the Indian subcontinent. There are many artifacts in the area to prove this settlement, like stone tools and rock paintings. Then came the Neolithic area and the Bronze & Iron ages.

Of course, there is a legendary side to the story too. It is said that the first Indian settlers on Sri Lanka were Prince Vijaya and his ~700 followers, who landed on the west coast near the town of Puttalam. Apparently, he found spirits on the island. That is when he founded the Vijaya dynasty. It has not been claimed that this actually happened. But it does show that the people that inhabited the area were Indo-European.

Everything has been going peacefully for a couple of years, but then the spread of Buddhism hit in the 4th century BC by the monks in the area.  After the Buddhism conversion, at around 200 BC, Sri Lanka started to become more political and formed many Kingdoms, the most famous one being the Anuradhapura kingdom. The kingdom was founded by its namesake leader and was very powerful and dwarfed the other small Kingdoms in Sri Lanka. They were from the Vijaya dynasty. But they fell in 65 BC to the Lambakannas, who ruled for centuries.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years and there is a political and ethnic change. Tamils and Sinhalese take power and there are lots of raids and battles against all the kingdoms. Just when things were getting bad...comes the Portuguese.

Some say the Portuguese helped, some say they didn't. But what we do know is that they are known to trade spices for European goods. But it wast just the Portuguese. It was also the Indian, Arabic, and Malay sailors that came to to trade goods. The reason the Portuguese became successful was because of  Lourenço de Almeida. He discovered the area, made treaties with the natives, and soon after more settlers came. The small kingdoms fell, and by 1600s, Portugal was dominating the island. Many people didn't respect the Portuguese because they lacked the traditions of the native area.

After the Portuguese, the Dutch came. The Dutch government was centered in Colombo in 1658. The economy was based on many things ranging from cinnamon to conch shells. After the Dutch came British Ceylon. Ceylon was the name Great Britain named it when they conquered in 1796. It became part of British East India. The British used capitalist agriculture.

The British left in 1900, but Sri Lanka still had some cleaning up to do, so it didnt become a country  until 1948. The country moves on today, with little skirmishes like the Tamil tigers and clashes between ethnic groups. Gotabaya Rajapaksa leads the country today.

Buddha statue in Sri Lanka
Map of  Sri Lanka by Portugal

Fun Facts

  • The world’s first female prime minister is from Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka Is sometimes called the "teardrop of India".
  • The oldest known human-planted tree Is In Sri Lanka.
  • The largest land mammal, the blue whale can be seen from Sri Lanka.
  • Birds and birdwatching are very popular in Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka became independent from Great Britain in 1900, but dint became a country until 1948.

Ending note

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Level 73
Sep 17, 2021
In the last fact, "dint became" should be "did not become".

Also under that map made by the Portuguese, there's an extra space between "of" and "Sri"

+3
Level 65
Sep 17, 2021
i tried to fix them but mrblogger submitted before i could read it
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Level 51
Sep 17, 2021
Congrats on number 40 all about blogs, total of 60 blogs!
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Level 64
Sep 17, 2021
Great! Sri Lanka is one of my favourite countries so I loved reading this blog :)
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Level 65
Sep 17, 2021
Thanks!