Sri Lanka, previously known as Ceylon, is located at the southern tip of India. ‘œSri Lanka,’ which means ‘œmajestic island’ in Sanskrit, is also known as the Pearl of Â the Orient due to its shape and also the abundance of pearls found in the oceans surrounding Sri Lanka. Until recently, Sri Lanka has been mired in civil wars between Â racial factions in the country.
Fact 1. Sri Lanka is noted for the gems found around the country and in the seas surrounding the island. Legends from King Solomon to Marco Polo record the story of the variety of gems found in Ceylon. The famous Blue Sapphire called ‘œBlue Belle’ found on the British Crown is from Sri Lanka. Of the 85 varieties of gems found around the world, 40 of the varieties can be found in Sri Lanka.
Fact 2. Sri Lanka has the distinction of Â electing the first woman as head of the government in 1960.
Fact 3. Sri Lanka is the home of the true cinnamon known as Cinnamomum verum.
Fact 4. The total population of Sri Lanka is 20 million.
Fact 5. The main religion of Sri Lanka is Buddhism brought in by Buddhist monks Â from Northern India circa 250 BCE.
Fact 6. Sri Lanka went through a civil war between the main ethnic groups, the Sinhalese and Tamil minority in the northeast, causing more than 100,000 causalities. The civil war lasted from 1983 till 2009 when the government seized the area controlled by the insurgents.
Fact 7. Sri Lanka was colonized by waves of Western colonists including the Portuguese and Dutch during the 16th century followed by the British in the 1790s.
Fact 8. The official religion of Sri Lanka is Buddhism. The most prominent site revered by Buddhists is the Temple of Tooth Relic housing Buddha’s tooth.