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INTRODUCING SRI LANKA
Local Name: ශ්‍රී ලංකාව
Other Name(s): Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
In the emerald-green waters of the Indian Ocean, the island country of Sri Lanka was first populated by the Sinhalese peoples from northern India.

As the European influences spread throughout southern Asia in the 16th century, it was eventually occupied by the Portuguese, and later, the Dutch in the 17th century. Then, in 1796, it was ceded to Britain by the Netherlands, becoming a crown colony in 1802.

Long known as Ceylon, and as a popular port-of-call, it declared independence in 1948, subsequently changing its name to Sri Lanka in 1972. For decades that followed, internal strife seemed indigenous to Sri Lanka, as tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists finally erupted into a civil war in 1983. Tens of thousands died in that ethnic conflict, and although now on the proverbial back-burner, social and governmental conflicts continue to fester. Then tragically, Sri Lanka, frequently referred to as the "Teardrop of India", was itself devastated by the powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami (or tidal wave) on December 26, 2004.

Today this tropical island is again on the radar screens of worldwide travelers, as Sri Lanka, though struggling, is quickly rebuilding its infrastructure and making a strong comeback, especially in tourism. And happily, for the most part, island-wide peaceful coexistence seems to be catching on.