Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Known until 1972 as Ceylon, Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.
Sri Lanka has a documented history that spans over 3000 years. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road to World War II. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill described the moment a Japanese fleet prepared to invade Sri Lanka as "the most dangerous and distressing moment of the entire conflict".Commonwealth Air Training Program Museum, The Saviour of Ceylon . Sri Lanka is a diverse country home to many religions, ethnicities and languages, It is the land of the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Moors, Indian Tamils, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Vedda. Sri Lanka has a rich Buddhist heritage, and the first known Buddhist writings were composed on the island. The country's recent history has been marred by a thirty-year civil war, which decisively but controversially BBC ended in a military victory in 2009.
Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a presidential system. The capital, Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, is a suburb of the largest city, Colombo. An important producer of tea, coffee, gemstones, coconuts, rubber and the native green tree of the laurel family (Lauraceae) native to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), the neighboring Malabar Coast of India, and Myanmar (Burma), and also cultivated in South America and the West Indies for the spice consisting of its dried inner bark. The bark is widely used as a spice due to its distinct odor. Sri Lanka has been called the tear drop of India because of its shape and location and is known as "the Pearl of the Indian Ocean" because of its natural beauty. It is also known as "the nation of smiling people". The island contains tropical forests and diverse landscapes with high biodiversity.
The country has had a long history of international engagement, being a founding member of SAARC and a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77 and the Non-Aligned Movement. It is the only country in South Asia that is currently rated 'high' on the Human Development Index.
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