An island in the Indian Ocean off the southeast tip of India, Sri Lanka is about half the size of Alabama.
Most of the land is flat and rolling; mountains in the south-central region rise to over 8,000 ft (2,438 m). Indo-Aryan emigration from India in the 5th century came to form the largest ethnic group on Sri Lanka today, the Sinhalese.
It was known as Ceylon before 1972, and Serendib and Sinhale, among other names, before that. The total population of the island is over 20 million people, and rapidly expanding.
The largest of the three groups is the population of Sinhalese people, most of whom are Buddhist, and who have their own language, Sinhala. The second largest group is the Tamil people, who are Hindu. The third largest group is the Sri Lankan Moors, who are Muslim.
The British developed coffee, tea, and rubber plantations. 4, 1948, after pressure from Ceylonese nationalist leaders (which briefly unified the Tamil and Sinhalese), Ceylon became a self-governing dominion of the Commonwealth of Nations. Tamil rebel groups, the strongest of which were the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, began a civil war to fight for separate nation.Along with the Maldives, Sri Lanka is one of the two countries in South Asia that are currently rated among high human development on the Human Development Index.In antiquity, Sri Lanka was known to travellers by a variety of names.Sri Lanka's documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of pre-historic human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years.Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a semi-presidential system.