About Sri Lanka

Formerly known as Ceylon, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a South Asian island nation located in the Indian Ocean. Because of its unique location off the southern coast of India, it has been nicknamed the “Teardrop of India.” The population of 23 million people is distributed around the island, with larger concentrations in the southwest, in metropolitan areas along the eastern coast, and in the north. Colombo, the capital, is home to 619,000 people. The population is ethnically diverse, with the majority being Sinhalese. Other ethnic groups include Sri Lankan Tamil, Sri Lankan Moor, and Indian Tamil. The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala and Tamil, while English is also spoken as a secondary language. As much as 70 percent of the population identifies as Buddhist, while smaller portions are Hindu, Muslim, Roman Catholic, and Christian. Sri Lanka is home to the oldest tree ever planted by a human, the 2,300-year-old Sri Maha Bodhi tree.

Sri Lanka gained independence from British rule in 1948. It remained part of the British Commonwealth until 1972. A 26-year civil war ended in 2009. Since then, Sri Lanka has become a leader in Asia, with one of the highest ratings on the human development index among South Asian countries. The education system in Sri Lanka is well established, providing free universal primary and secondary education. As much as 85 percent of the population is literate. The main economic sectors include tourism, clothing production, and the agricultural production of crops such as rice. Sri Lanka is known for its tea, and it is the world’s largest tea exporter.

Sri Lanka’s government-sponsored health system is well established and free. Because of the extensive network of hospitals throughout the country, overall health conditions in Sri Lanka have greatly improved, and life expectancy is 10 percent higher than the world average. Non-communicable diseases contribute to the most deaths, including ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma, chronic kidney disease, COPD, cirrhosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Lower respiratory infections, self-harm, and conflict also continue to be leading causes of death. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include high fasting plasma glucose, high blood pressure, high body-mass index, dietary risks, alcohol and tobacco use, air pollution, high LDL, kidney dysfunction, and malnutrition. Notably, Sri Lanka has the highest number of deaths in Asia due to suicide.

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