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Useful Notes / Sri Lanka

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Formerly known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka (Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, śrī laṃkāva; Tamil: இலங்கை, ilaṅkai), officially known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකා ප්‍රජාතාන්ත්‍රික සමාජවාදී ජනරජය Śrī Laṅkā Prajātāntrika Samājavādī Janarajaya; Tamil: இலங்கை சனநாயக சோசலிசக் குடியரசு Ilaṅkai Jaṉanāyaka Sōsalisak Kuṭiyarasu), is a little South Asian island country southeast of India. It became independent in 1948 and had the world's first elected female head of state. Until recently had an intermittent civil war that ended with the government’s victory.

It’s also known for producing tea and being the refuge of Arthur C. Clarke in his later years. He actually stated Sri Lanka as the ideal place to build a Space Elevator in The Fountains of Paradise (though he had to move the equator some grades up, since an orbital elevator only could be constructed on it). Sri Lanka produces many other spices and luxury products as well — it is where cinnamon originated, and is the first place where the cinchona tree (source of quinine) was cultivated outside its native South America.

In the 17th century the island was fought over by the Dutch and the Portuguese. The former won, but were unable to subdue the native inland Kingdom of Kandy. This didn't happen until Britain took over due to the Dutch having been conquered by the French in The Napoleonic Wars, and "forgot" to give it back again afterwards. The fact that it produced a lot of tea had absolutely nothing to do with this.

One of the most important centers of Buddhism. Also important in Hinduism, specifically the Ramayana, in which Hanuman, Rama's simian sidekick, builds a bridge from India to the island, which is identified with a real undersea causeway — plans to cut shipping channels in this causeway ran into religious controversy for this reason.

Also had a massively controversial Civil War that has not been able to be fully documented, mostly due to government intrusion. A one-minute oversimplification of the war can be found here.

The Sri Lankan flag
Originally the flag only consists of the right half, the flag of the Kingdom of Kandy, symbolizing the Buddhist Sinhalese majority, featuring a gold-bordered crimson field with a lion holding a sword and pinnacles of Buddhist stupas on the borders. A 1950 recommendation replaces the pinnacles with four leaves from the sacred fig tree (ficus religiosa), symbolizing the tree under which the Buddha received enlightenment, and adding green and orange vertical stripes on the hoist side to symbolize the Muslim Moor and Hindu Tamil minorities, respectively, the two largest minorities in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan national anthem

ශ්‍රී ලංකා මාතා
අප ශ්‍රී..... ලංකා නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ මාතා
සුන්දර සිරිබරිනී සුරැඳි අති සෝබමාන ලංකා
ධාන්‍ය ධනය නෙක මල් පලතුරු පිරි ජය භුමිය රම්‍යා
අප හට සැප සිරි සෙත සදනා ජීවනයේ මාතා
පිළිගනු මැන අප භක්තී පූජා
නමෝ නමෝ මාතා
අප ශ්‍රී..... ලංකා නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ මාතා

ඔබ වේ අප විද්‍යා
ඔබ මය අප සත්‍යා
ඔබ වේ අප ශක්ති
අප හද තුළ භක්තී
ඔබ අප ආලෝකේ
අපගේ අනුප්‍රාණේ
ඔබ අප ජීවන වේ
අප මුක්තිය ඔබ වේ

නව ජීවන දෙමිනේ නිතින අප පුබුදු කරන් මාතා
ඥාන වීර්ය වඩවමින රැගෙන යනු මැන ජය භූමී කරා
එක මවකගෙ දරු කැල බැවිනා
යමු යමු වී නොපමා
ප්‍රේම වඩා සැම භේද දුරැර දා නමෝ නමෝ මාතා
අප ශ්‍රී..... ලංකා නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ නමෝ මාතා

சிறீ லங்கா தாயே – நம் சிறீ லங்கா
நமோ நமோ நமோ நமோ தாயே
நல்லெழில் பொலி சீரணி
நலங்கள் யாவும் நிறை வான்மணி லங்கா
ஞாலம் புகழ் வள வயல் நதி மலை மலர்
நறுஞ்சோலை கொள் லங்கா
நமதுறு புகலிடம் என ஒளிர்வாய்
நமதுதி ஏல் தாயே
நம தலை நினதடி மேல் வைத்தோமே
நமதுயிரே தாயே – நம் சிறீ லங்கா
நமோ நமோ நமோ நமோ தாயே

நமதாரருள் ஆனாய்
நவை தவிர் உணர்வானாய்
நமதேர் வலியானாய்
நவில் சுதந்திரம் ஆனாய்
நமதிளமையை நாட்டே
நகு மடி தனையோட்டே
அமைவுறும் அறிவுடனே
அடல் செறி துணிவருளே

நமதார் ஒளி வளமே
நறிய மலர் என நிலவும் தாயே
யாமெலாம் ஒரு கருணை அனைபயந்த
எழில்கொள் சேய்கள் எனவே
இயலுறு பிளவுகள் தமை அறவே
இழிவென நீக்கிடுவோம்
ஈழ சிரோமணி வாழ்வுறு பூமணி
நமோ நமோ தாயே – நம் சிறீ லங்கா
நமோ நமோ நமோ நமோ தாயே

Thou Mother Lanka,
Oh Mother Lanka we salute, salute, salute, salute Thee!
Plenteous in prosperity, Thou,
Beauteous in grace and love,
Laden with grain and luscious fruit,
And fragrant flowers of radiant hue,
Giver of life and all good things,
Our land of joy and victory,
Receive our grateful praise sublime, we worship, worship Thee.
Oh Mother Lanka! We salute, salute, salute, salute Thee!

Thou gavest us Knowledge and Truth,
Thou art our strength and inward faith,
Our light divine and sentient being,
Breath of life and liberation.
Grant us, bondage free, inspiration.
Inspire us for ever.

In wisdom and strength renewed,
Ill-will, hatred, strife all ended,
In love enfolded, a mighty nation
Marching onward, all as one,
Lead us, Mother, to fullest freedom, we worship, worship Thee
Oh Mother Lanka! We salute, salute, salute, salute Thee!

  • Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
    • President: Ranil Wickremesinghe
    • Prime Minister: Dinesh Gunawardena
    • Speaker of the Parliament: Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena
    • Chief Justice: Jayantha Jayasuriya

  • Capitals: Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte (legislative), Colombo (executive and judicial)
  • Largest city: Colombo
  • Population: 21,919,000
  • Area: 65,610 km² (25,330 sq mi) (120th)
  • Currency: Sri Lankan rupee (Rs) (LKR)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: LK
  • Country calling code: 94
  • Highest point: Pidurutalagala (2524 m/8,281 ft) (94th)
  • Lowest point: Indian Ocean (3,741 m/12,274 ft) (-)