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About Sri Lanka

A chronology of key events:

Fifth century BC – Indo-Aryan migrants from northern India settle on the island; the Sinhalese emerge as the most
powerful of the various clans.

Third century BC – Beginning of Tamil migration from India.

1505 – Portuguese arrive in Colombo, marking beginning of European interest.

1658 – Dutch force out Portuguese and establish control over the whole island except central kingdom of Kandy.

1796 – Britain begins to take over island.

1815 – Kingdom of Kandy conquered. Britain starts bringing in Tamil laborers from southern India to work in tea,
coffee and coconut plantations.

1833 – Whole Island united under one British administration.

1931 – British grant the right to vote and introduce power sharing with Sinhalese-run cabinet.

1948 – Ceylon gains full independence.

The culture of Sri Lanka mixes modern elements with traditional aspects and is known for its regional diversity. Sri Lankan culture has long been influenced
by the heritage of Theravada Buddhism passed on from India, and the religion’s legacy is particularly strong in Sri Lanka’s southern and central regions. South Indian cultural influences are especially pronounced in the northernmost reaches of the country. The history of colonial occupation has also left a mark on Sri Lanka’s identity, with Portuguese, Dutch, and British elements having intermingled with various traditional facets of Sri Lankan culture.

The country has a rich artistic tradition, with distinct creative forms that encompass music, dance, and the visual arts. Sri Lankan culture is internationally associated with cricket, a distinct cuisine, an indigenous holistic medicine practice, religious iconography such as the Buddhist flag, and exports such as tea, cinnamon, and gemstones, as well as a robust tourism industry. Sri Lanka has longstanding ties with the Indian subcontinent that can be traced back to prehistory. Sri Lanka’s current population is predominantly Sinhalese with sizable Sri Lankan Moor, Sri Lankan Tamil, and Indian Tamil minorities

The Food

Sri Lanka is one of the largest tea producers in the world, and Sri Lankans themselves can’t get enough of the stuff, drinking at least three cups a day on
average. Tea is served at breakfast, when a guest comes to someone’s home, at festivals, and at social gatherings. The most popular Sri Lankan tea is known
as Ceylon Tea and is grown all over the country.

Sri Lanka is also known for its spices, with cinnamon being the most popular. Sri Lankans use spices liberally in their cuisine and often feature curry and other food influences from India.

Languages of Sri Lanka

While the Sinhalese people speak Sinhala as their mother tongue, the Tamil people speak Tamil. English is also widely spoken.

Sinhala is spoken by about 17 million people in Sri Lanka, more than 14 million of whom are native speakers. It is one of the constitutionally recognized
official languages of Sri Lanka, along with Tamil.

National symbols

The National symbols of Sri Lanka are the symbols that represent the country and its people within Sri Lanka and abroad, and these also represent the
country’s traditions, culture, history and geography. The national symbols of Sri Lanka are national anthem, national flag, national emblem, national flower,
national tree, national bird, national butterfly, national gemstone and national sport. They were picked up and officially and announced at various times.
There are also several other symbols that do not have official acknowledgment or announced as national symbols, but are considered as national symbols at
local level