Sri Lanka is the teardrop shaped island nation in the Indian Ocean across the Palk Sraits from India. History has known the beautiful 64,710 square mile tropical island by other names, including Serendib, Taprobane and Ceylon.
The current population of Sri Lanka is just over 20 million, with a median age of 29 and comparatively low estimated population growth rate of 0.79%. Although a developing economy for a society whose members suffer from the effects of a protracted ethno-national civil war, social development in Sri Lanka is remarkably advanced. The infant mortality rate is 14.37 per 1000, life expectancy is 73, and the literacy rate is 92%.
- Sinhalese 73.8%
- Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%
- Indian Tamil 4.6%
- Sri Lankan Tamil 3.9%
- Other and unspecified 10.5% (probably most are Tamil)
The island was ruled as a Portugese colony for two centuries, a Dutch colony for a century and finally a British colony for a century before winning independence in 1948. Originally a parlaimentary system, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka adopted a presidential system with a new constitution adopted on August 16, 1978.
Sinhalese Buddhist hardliner Mahinda Rajapsake was elected president in November 2005 in a very close election against moderate Ranil Wickremesinghe. Rajapsake had served as Prime Minister since 2004 in the 1994-2005 government of Sinhalese Buddhist hardliner President Chandrika Bandaranaike. Bandaranaike had defeated Wickremesinghe in 1999 in a similarly close election.
- K.M. de Silva. 1998. Reaping the Whirlwind: Ethnic Conflict, Ethnic Politics in Sri Lanka. New Delhi: Penguin. ISBN 1140270655.