Sri Lanka is an island country in the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Known until 1972 as Ceylon, Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.
Sri Lanka has a documented history that spans over 3,000 years. Its geographic location and deep harbours have given it great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road. Sri Lanka is a diverse country, home to many religions, ethnicities and languages. It is the land of the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Moors, Indian Tamils, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Vedda. Sri Lanka has a rich Buddhist heritage, with the first known Buddhist writings composed on the island. The country’s recent history has been marred by a thirty-year civil war which decisively but controversially ended in 2009, ushering in an era of peace and welcome stability.
An important producer of tea, coffee, gemstones, coconuts, rubber and the native cinnamon, Sri Lanka is known as “the Pearl of the Indian Ocean” because of its natural beauty. Sri Lanka has also been called “the teardrop of India” because of its shape and location, and “the nation of smiling people”.