Sri Lanka: Bulletpoint History For Travellers

Sri Lanka: Bulletpoint History For Travellers

September 11, 2023 Off By TravelWW

1. Intro – The Pearl Of The Indian Ocean

Sri Lanka, the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” boasts a rich tapestry of history that spans over 2,500 years. This island nation has witnessed the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms, colonial conquests, and a journey to modernity.

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2. Ancient Kingdoms:

  • Prehistoric Era:
    • Evidence of prehistoric human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years.
    • The Balangoda Man is one of the earliest known inhabitants.
  • Anuradhapura Period (377 BC – 1017 AD):
    • Established by King Pandukabhaya.
    • Introduction of Buddhism in 247 BC by Arahath Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka of India.
    • Construction of monumental stupas like Ruwanwelisaya.
  • Polonnaruwa Period (1056–1232 AD):
    • Rise of King Vijayabahu I who defeated Chola invaders.
    • Golden age under King Parakramabahu I with extensive construction and irrigation projects.

3. Colonial Era:

  • Portuguese Rule (1505–1658):
    • Arrival of Portuguese explorer Lourenço de Almeida.
    • Introduction of Roman Catholicism.
  • Dutch Period (1658–1796):
    • Dutch East India Company takes control, pushing out the Portuguese.
    • Introduction of Roman-Dutch law, some of which remain in effect today.
  • British Rule (1796–1948):
    • British Empire took over in 1796.
    • Introduction of tea, coffee, and rubber plantations.
    • Uprisings like the 1818 Uva Rebellion were suppressed.
    • Achieved self-rule in 1947 and full independence as Ceylon in 1948.

4. Post-Colonial Era:

  • Ceylon to Sri Lanka:
    • The name changed to Sri Lanka in 1972.
    • Adoption of a new constitution, and Sri Lanka became a republic.
  • Civil Conflict (1983–2009):
    • Ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils escalated into a civil war.
    • The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) sought an independent Tamil state.
    • The conflict ended in 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE.

5. Modern Sri Lanka:

  • Post-war Era:
    • Focus on reconciliation, redevelopment, and economic growth.
    • Rapid growth in tourism with attractions like Sigiriya, Kandy, and the coastal beaches.
  • 21st Century Challenges:
    • 2004: Devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami.
    • 2019: Easter Sunday bombings targeting churches and hotels.
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6. Summary:

Sri Lanka’s history is a blend of indigenous cultures, colonial influences, and modern challenges.

Sri Lanka – Facts & Figures in Brief:

  • Official name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
  • Form of government: Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
  • Capital: Colombo (administrative), Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte (legislative)
  • Population: 22,409,381 (2023 est.)
  • Land Area: 65th largest country in the World.
  • Urban Population: Approximately 18% of the population lives in urban areas.
  • Religions: Buddhism is the major religion, followed by Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.
  • Official languages: Sinhala and Tamil
  • Currency: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)
  • GDP (as of 2021): Approximately $84 billion
  • Area: 25,332 square miles (65,610 square kilometers)
  • Major mountain ranges: Central Highlands
  • Highest Peak: Pidurutalagala, at 2,524 meters.
  • Major rivers: Mahaweli, Kelani, Aruvi Aru
  • Longest river: Mahaweli Ganga.
  • Nearest neighbours: India (northwest), Maldives (southwest)
  • Geographic features: Sri Lanka is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean, just off the southeastern coast of India.
  • Climate: Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with two main monsoon seasons.
  • Economy: Sri Lanka’s economy is based on agriculture (notably tea, rubber, and coconuts), textiles, and tourism.
  • Major Companies: Dialog Axiata, Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Sri Lankan Airlines, Ceylon Tea Services.
  • Culture: Sri Lankan culture is a blend of indigenous traditions and colonial influences. Notable aspects include traditional Kandyan dance, Ayurveda, and the celebration of Poya days.
  • Annual Tourists (pre-COVID-19): Over 2 million international visitors in 2019.
  • Cuisine: Known for rice and curry, hoppers, kottu, and coconut milk-based dishes.
  • National Flower: Lotus
  • National Sport: Cricket
  • History: Sri Lanka has a rich history that dates back over 2,500 years, marked by the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms, colonial conquests, and its journey to modernity.

Here are 3 important facts about Sri Lanka:

  1. Biodiversity hotspot: Sri Lanka is recognized as one of 34 world biodiversity hotspots, boasting a variety of wildlife, including elephants, leopards, and a vast array of bird species.
  2. Tea production: Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, is one of the world’s leading producers of tea. Ceylon Tea is renowned globally for its rich taste and high quality.
  3. Cultural heritage: The country has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, and the old town of Galle and its fortifications.