CountryFacts.com > Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka
Capital:
Colombo; note - Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital
Population:
19,905,165
note: since the outbreak of hostilities between the government and armed Tamil separatists in the mid-1980s, several hundred thousand Tamil civilians have fled the island; as of yearend 2000, approximately 65,000 were housed in 131 refugee camps in south India, another 40,000 lived outside the Indian camps, and more than 200,000 Tamils have sought refuge in the West (July 2004 est.)
Flag
Background:
The Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C., probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced beginning in about the mid-third century B.C., and a great civilization developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (kingdom from circa 200 B.C. to circa 1000 A.D.) and Polonnaruwa (from about 1070 to 1200). In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty seized power in the north and established a Tamil kingdom. Occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century, the island was ceded to the British in 1796, became a crown colony in 1802, and was united under British rule by 1815. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. Tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted in violence in the mid-1980s. Tens of thousands have died in an ethnic war that continues to fester. After two decades of fighting, the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam began a ceasefire in December 2001, with Norway brokering peace negotiations.
Government type:
republic
GDP:
purchasing power parity - $73.7 billion (2003 est.)
Internet users:
200,000 (2002)
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