Portal:Sri Lanka

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The Sri Lanka Portal

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Sri Lanka (UK: /sri ˈlæŋkə, ʃr -/, US: /- ˈlɑːŋkə/ (About this soundlisten); Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකා Śrī Laṃkā; Tamil: இலங்கை Ilaṅkai), officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean southwest of the Bay of Bengal and southeast of the Arabian Sea. It is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is its legislative capital, and Colombo is its largest city and centre of commerce.

Sri Lanka's documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of prehistoric human settlements dating back at least 125,000 years. It has a rich cultural heritage, and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist council in 29 BC. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to the modern Maritime Silk Road. Its location as a major trading hub made it known to both the far East as well as the European continent from as far back as the Anuradhapura period. The country's trade in luxury goods and spices attracted traders of many nations, creating Sri Lanka's diverse population. During a period of great political crisis the Portuguese, whose arrival in Sri Lanka was largely accidental, sought to control the island's maritime regions and its lucrative external trade. The Portuguese possessions were later taken over by the Dutch. The Dutch possessions were then taken by the British, who later extended their control over the whole island, colonising it from 1815 to 1948. Resistance to the British was immediate. A national movement for political independence arose in the early 20th century, and in 1948, Ceylon became a republic and adopted its current name in 1972. Sri Lanka's recent history has been marred by a 26-year civil war, which ended decisively when the Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009.

Sri Lanka's current constitution stipulates it as a republic and unitary state governed by a semi-presidential system. It has had a long history of international engagement, as a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Sri Lanka is rated "high" on the Human Development Index (HDI), with its HDI rating and per capita income the highest among South Asian nations. The Sri Lankan constitution accords Buddhism the "foremost place", and although it does not identify it as a state religion, Buddhism is given special privileges in the Sri Lankan constitution.

Sri Lanka is home to many cultures, languages and ethnicities. The majority of the population are from the Sinhalese ethnicity, while a large minority of Tamils have also played an influential role in the island's history. Moors, Burghers, Malays, Chinese, and the indigenous Vedda are also established groups.

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Coast Veddas of Vakarai.jpeg

The Coast Veddas (Tamil: கரையோர வேடர்கள், lit. 'Karaiyōra Vēṭarkaḷ', Sinhala: වෙරළේ වැද්දන්, lit. 'Veraḷē Væddan'), by self-designation, form a social group within the minority Sri Lankan Tamil ethnic group of the Eastern province of Sri Lanka. They are primarily found in small coastal villages from the eastern township of Trincomalee to Batticalao. Nevertheless, they also inhabit a few villages south of Batticalao as well. They make a living by fishing, slash and burn agriculture, paddy cultivation of rice, basket weaving for market and occasional wage labor. Anthropologists consider them to be partly descended from the indigenous Vedda people, as well as local Tamils. Residents of the Eastern province consider their Vedar (Tamil for "hunter") neighbors to have been part of the local social structure from earliest times, whereas some Vedar elders believe that their ancestors may have migrated from the interior at some time in the past.

They speak a dialect of Sri Lankan Tamil that is used in the region. During religious festivals, people who enter a trance or spirit possession sometimes use a mixed language that contains words from the Vedda language. Most Vedar are Hindu Saivites and worship a plethora of folk deities, as well as the main Hindu deities such as Murugan, Pillaiyar and Amman. They also maintain the ancestor worship tradition of the interior Veddas. Clan divisions, if they still exist, do not play an important role in choosing of marriage partners or place of domicile. Most identify themselves as a caste among the Tamils as opposed to a separate ethnic group. Their economic conditions have been impacted by the Sri Lankan civil war. Read more...

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The following are images from various Sri Lanka-related articles on Wikipedia.

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Balu Mahendra in 2013

Balanathan Benjamin Mahendran (19 May 1939 – 13 February 2014), commonly known as Balu Mahendra, was a Sri Lankan born Indian cinematographer, director, screenwriter and film editor who worked predominantly in Tamil cinema. Widely regarded as an auteur, Mahendra usually scripted and edited his films apart from shooting them. He was the recipient of six National Film Awards (including two for Best Cinematography), five Filmfare Awards South and several state government awards.

Mahendran developed a passion for photography and literature at a young age. After witnessing the shoot of David Lean's The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) during a school trip in Sri Lanka, he was drawn towards filmmaking. He graduated from the London University and started his career as a draughtsman with the Sri Lankan Government. In 1966, he moved to India and gained admission to the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to pursue a course in motion picture photography. Upon completion of his diploma, he entered Malayalam cinema as a cinematographer in the early 1970s. Read more...

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Negombo 03.jpg

Photo credit:Bernard Gagnon
Church in Negombo where the majority is Roman Catholic.

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Remains of a house near Telwatte

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