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name Sri Lanka originates from Sanskrit; the word Lanka meaning "island"
and the word Sri meaning "resplendent" or "sacred."
ශ්රී ලංකාව / இலங்கை
The culture and way of life in Sri Lanka today is quite varied due to numerous reasons,
but primarily due to ethnicity. Historically, Sri Lanka was an important trading
island focused on spice growth; this trade led to the immigration of numerous people,
primarily from India, but also meant wider contact with people from throughout the
world, including people as far away as Europe.
As an island with high demand for its spices, people continued to profit from this
industry as new immigrants regularly arrived to the island. However, with a growing
population, more competition, and vast cultural differences among the people, disagreements
began and the people began living divided lives, separated by the island's mountains.
The commonality of the people was that they all tended to be involved in agriculture
and trade, which was what the entire economy was based on. This gave the people
a shared lifestyle, but cultural differences remained and even today this divide
The flag of Sri Lanka has a number
of colors and a design with a lot of symbolism. The colors of the flag all represent
something: orange symbolizes the Sri Lankan Tamils, green represents the Sri Lankan
Moors, the red is for the European Burghers, and the yellow represents the other
ethnic groups on the island. In the design, the lion represents the ethnic Sinhalese,
the sword symbolizes the sovereignty of the nation, and the four leaves symbolize
the four virtues of Buddhism: kindness, friendliness, happiness, and equanimity.
Name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Independence: February 4, 1948
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee
Population: 21,675,648 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Sinhalese & others
Language: Sinhala & Tamil
While at times the people worked side by side as they all made money from the spice
trade, at other times they argued and fought as the economy struggled or was shut
down. This was magnified with the arrival of the settling Europeans, who sought
to control this trade. In addition to ethnic, linguistic, and cultural differences,
the Europeans also sparked religious differences as many of the people allied with
the Europeans converted to Christianity under Portuguese rule. Soon the country
was filled with not only the majority Hindus and Muslims, but also Christians, as
well as a number of Buddhists.
This ethnic tension and division among the people continues today in Sri Lanka as
the people argue over political and economic power and direction. Despite this,
most people remain similar in many ways as they all continue to work primarily in
the agricultural industry (but today tea is their most important crop). Most people
also seem to agree that their life and standards of living are below expectations,
but they struggle to find an answer to this situation as terrorist groups on both
sides create violence and tension against the wishes of the majority. Despite the
many similarities in lifestyle and occupations, the cultural and identity differences
seem to trump any similarity as the country struggles to move forward.
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