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Sri Lanka MAP AND DESCRIPTION
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The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. An island nation in South Asia, it was until 1972 known as Ceylon. Sri Lanka is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar, the Palk Strait and lies in the vicinity of India and Maldives. The actual origins of the Sinhalese are shrouded in myth. Most believe they came to Sri Lanka from northern India during the 6th century BC. Buddhism arrived from the subcontinent 300 years later and spread rapidly. Buddhism and a sophisticated system of irrigation became the pillars of classical Sinhalese civilization (200 BC-1200 AD) that flourished in the north-central part of the island. Invasions from southern India, combined with internecine strife, pushed Sinhalese kingdoms southward.

Sri Lanka begins with the arrival of Portuguese soldier and explorer Lorenzo de Almeida, the son of Francisco de Almeida in 1505. The Portuguese founded a fort at the port city of Colombo in 1517 and gradually extended their control over the coastal areas. In 1592 Vimaladharmasuriya I moved the kingdom to the inland city of Kandy, a location more secure against an attack from western invaders. Intermittent warfare continued through the 16th century. In 1619, due to the attacks of Portuguese, independent existence of Jaffna kingdom, came to an end.

The island of Sri Lanka lies atop the Indian tectonic plate, a minor plate within the Indo-Australian Plate. It is positioned in the Indian Ocean, to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal, between latitudes 5° and 10°N, and longitudes 79° and 82°E. Sri Lanka is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait.

Sri Lanka claims to a US$50 billion economy as of 2010. It has a GDP of US$106.5 billion in terms of purchasing power parity. Sri Lanka is next only to Maldives in the South Asian region in terms of per capita income, with a nominal value of US$2,435 and PPP value of US$5,220. It recorded a GDP growth of 8.2% in 2010 and it is estimated that GDP will grow by 9.5% in 2011, becoming one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Colombo Stock Exchange was the best performing stock exchange in Asia in 2009 and 2010, by almost tripling in value.

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