Meaning of SRI LANKA, FLAG OF in English

national flag consisting of a yellow field (background) bearing vertical stripes of green and orange at the hoist and, at the fly end, a crimson rectangle with a sword-wielding lion and four bo leaves. The width-to-length ratio of the flag is 1 to 2. According to legend, Prince Vijaya, founder of Sri Lanka, arrived in the 5th century BC from Sinhapura (Lion City) in India. Since that time the Lion Flag has been the chief flag of the island's Sinhalese majority, except in those years when Sri Lanka was conquered by foreign invaders. Britain established its control over the island in 1815 when it overcame the king of Kandy, forcing him to lower the Lion Flag on March 2, 1815. Independence was restored on February 4, 1948, and the same Lion Flag, based on a painting of the original, was hoisted in celebration. The Union Jack nevertheless also continued to fly until October 29, 1953. The minorities on Sri Lanka felt that this flag represented only the majority Sinhalese. A parliamentary commission charged with examining the question finally proposed a new flag, which became official on March 2, 1951. The yellow border of the Lion Flag was extended around two vertical stripes placed near the hoist, green for the Muslims and orange for the Tamils (Hindus). A further change was made in the flag on May 22, 1972. In the corners of the crimson area behind the lion there had been yellow spires similar to those on the tops of temples. Buddhist leaders requested that these be replaced by leaves from the bo tree to recall that it was under such a tree that Siddhartha Gautama sat when he attained enlightenment and became the Buddha (Enlightened One). The flag of Sri Lanka incorporated further artistic modification of those leaves on September 7, 1978. Whitney Smith History The Portuguese in Sri Lanka (15051658) By 1500 the Portuguese had begun their penetration of the Indian Ocean. In 1505 a Portuguese fleet commanded by Loureno de Almeida was blown into Colombo by adverse winds. Almeida received a friendly audience from the king of Kotte, Vira Parakrama Bahu, and was favourably impressed with the commercial and strategic value of the island. The Portuguese soon returned and established a regular and formal contact with Kotte. In 1518 they were permitted to build a fort at Colombo and were given trading concessions. In 1521 three sons of Vijayabahu, the reigning king of Kotte, put their father to death and partitioned the kingdom among themselves. The oldest of the brothers, Bhuvanaika Bahu, ruled at Kotte, and the two others set up independent kingdoms at Sitawake and Rayigama. Mayadunne, the king of Sitawake, was an ambitious and able ruler who sought to expand his frontiers at the expense of his brother at Kotte. Bhuvanaika Bahu could not resist the temptation of seeking Portuguese assistance. The Portuguese were eager to help the king, and the more he was pressed by Mayadunne, the greater was his reliance on them. Bhuvanaika Bahu defended his kingdom against Mayadunne, who in turn allied himself with the Zamorin of Calicut (in India), an inveterate enemy of the Europeans. Bhuvanaika Bahu was succeeded by his grandson Prince Dharmapala, who was even more dependent on Portuguese support. An agreement between Bhuvanaika Bahu and the king of Portugal in 1543 had guaranteed the protection of the prince on the throne and the defense of the kingdom; in return the Portuguese were to be confirmed in all their privileges and to receive a tribute of cinnamon. The prince was educated by Franciscans; in 1557, when his conversion to Christianity was announced, he became nothing more than a Portuguese protg. This act undermined the Kotte dynasty in the eyes of the people. Mayadunne's wars of aggression were now transformed into a struggle against Portuguese influence and interests in the island, and he annexed a large part of the Kotte kingdom. After his death, his son Rajasinha continued these wars successfully on land, though, like his father, he had no way of combating Portuguese sea power. At the death of Rajasinha in 1593, the Sitawake kingdom disintegrated for want of a strong successor. The Portuguese captured much of the lands of the Kotte patrimony and emerged as a strong power on the island. In 1580 Dharmapala had been persuaded to deed his kingdom to the Portuguese, and, when he died in 1597, they took formal possession of it. Meanwhile a Portuguese expedition to Jaffna in 1560 had no lasting success. A second invasion of 1591, undertaken at the instigation of Christian missionaries, succeeded in installing a Portuguese protg. Continued unrest and succession disputes made the Portuguese undertake a third expedition, and the kingdom of Jaffna was annexed in 1619. The Portuguese now controlled all of Sri Lanka except the Central Highlands and eastern coast, where an able Sinhalese nobleman, Vimala Dharma Srya, had established himself and consolidated his authority. The temptation for the Portuguese to establish hegemony over the entire island was strong, and some attempts were made. These led to protracted warfare and to popular hostility against the foreigners. The Portuguese expanded to the lower reaches of the Central Highlands and annexed the east coast ports of Trincomalee and Batticaloa. The Portuguese possessions in Sri Lanka were a part of their Estado da India. The administrative structure of the Kotte kingdom was retained. Sri Lanka was divided into four dissavanies, or provinces, each headed by a dissava. Other territorial subdivisions were retained. Portuguese held the highest offices, though local officials came from the Sinhalese nobility loyal to the Portuguese. The Sinhalese system of service tenure was retained and used extensively to secure the essential produce of the land such as cinnamon and elephants. The caste system was retained intact, and all obligations that had been due to the sovereign now accrued to the Portuguese state. The payment in land to officials was retained and extended to Portuguese officials as well. The Portuguese lacked a proper understanding of the traditional Sinhalese social and economic structure, and excessive demands put upon it led to hardships and popular hostility. Cinnamon and elephants became articles of monopoly; they provided good profits, as did the trade in pepper and areca nuts (betel nuts). Portuguese officials compiled a tombo, or land register, to provide a detailed statement of landholding, crops grown, tax obligations, and nature of ownership. The period of Portuguese rule was marked by intense Roman Catholic missionary activity. Franciscans established centres in the country from 1543 onward. Jesuits were active in the north. Toward the end of the century, Dominicans and Augustinians arrived. With the conversion of Dharmapala, many members of the Sinhalese nobility followed suit. Dharmapala endowed missionary orders lavishly, often from the properties of Buddhist and Hindu temples. After the Portuguese secured control of Sri Lanka, they used their extensive powers of patronage and preference in appointments to promote Christianity. Members of the landed aristocracy embraced Christianity and took Portuguese surnames at baptism. Many coastal communities underwent mass conversion, particularly Jaffna, Mannar, and the fishing communities north of Colombo. Catholic churches with schools attached to them served Catholic communities all over the country. The Portuguese language spread extensively, and the upper classes quickly gained proficiency in it. The Kandyan kingdom When Rajasinha I occupied Kandy about 1580, the ruler of that kingdom took refuge with the Portuguese. In 1591 the Portuguese launched an expedition to Kandy to enthrone Dom Philip, an heir of the dispossessed ruler. They were accompanied by an ambitious and distinguished Sinhalese military nobleman, Konnappu Bandara. Dom Philip was installed as king but died under suspicious circumstances, and Konnappu Bandara enthroned himself, proclaiming independence from the Portuguese and taking the regnal name of Vimala Dharma Srya. The demise of Sitawake after Rajasinha's death left Kandy the only independent Sinhalese kingdom. The Portuguese launched another expedition to Kandy in 1594 under General Pedro Lopes de Sousa, planning to enthrone Dona Catherina, a baptized Sinhalese noblewoman. Popular hostility soon built up toward the continued presence of Portuguese troops. Vimala Dharma Srya utilized this to his advantage and, making use of guerrilla warfare tactics, routed the Portuguese army in 1594. He captured Dona Catherina, made her his queen, and legitimized and consolidated his rule. He expanded into the old Sitawake kingdom and emerged as the leader of resistance to the Portuguese. Subsequently, the Portuguese made a few unsuccessful attempts to subjugate Kandy. Vimala Dharma realized that without sea power he could not drive the Portuguese out of Sri Lanka. He saw the arrival of the Dutch as an excellent opportunity to gain naval support against his adversaries. The first Dutch envoy, Joris van Spilbergen, met the king in July 1602 and made lavish promises of military assistance. A few months later another Dutch official, Sebald de Weert, arrived with a concrete offer of help and, in view of favourable terms offered by the king, decided to launch a joint attack on the Portuguese. But a misunderstanding between the king and de Weert caused an altercation between the Kandyans and the Dutch, and de Weert and his men were killed. King Senarat succeeded to the Kandyan throne in 1604 and continued to solicit Dutch support. In 1612 a Dutch envoy, Marcelis Boschouwer, concluded a treaty with Senarat. The king granted the Dutch extensive commercial concessions and a harbour for settlement on the east coast in return for a promise of armed assistance against Portuguese attack. The Dutch were unable to offer adequate assistance, and Senarat turned to the Danes. But, by the time a Danish expedition arrived in May 1620, Senarat had concluded a peace agreement with the Portuguese. The truce was short-lived, and in 1630 the Kandyans, taking the offensive, invaded Portuguese territory and laid siege to Colombo and Galle. Again the absence of sea power proved a handicap, and another peace was concluded in 1634. In 1635 Senarat was succeeded by his son Rajasinha II. The Dutch were now firmly established in Batavia in Java and were developing their trade in southern Asia. The king sent emissaries to meet the admiral of the Dutch fleet, Adam Westerwolt, who was then blockading Goa. The fleet came to Sri Lanka and captured Batticaloa. Westerwolt and Rajasinha concluded a treaty on May 23, 1638, giving the Dutch a monopoly on most of Sri Lanka's cinnamon and a repayment in merchandise for expenses incurred in assisting the king. In May 1639 the Dutch fleet captured Trincomalee, and in February 1640 the Dutch and Kandyans combined to take Negombo. But differences arose over the occupation of captured forts. The Dutch refused to give Trincomalee and Batticaloa to the king until their expenses were paid in full, and Rajasinha realized that the Dutch really wanted to replace the Portuguese as the rulers of the coast. He nevertheless continued to work with them to expel the Portuguese. In March 1640 Galle was taken, but the progress of the allies was temporarily halted by a truce declared in Europe between the United Provinces and Spain, which at that time ruled Portugal and its overseas possessions. In 1645 the boundaries between Portuguese and Dutch territory in Sri Lanka were demarcated. Jan Thijssen was appointed the first Dutch governor. The Dutch peace with the Portuguese and occupation of captured territory incensed the king and strained relations between him and the Dutch. In May 1645 war broke out between them. Though Rajasinha could not conquer the occupied lands, he made them worthless to the Dutch by destroying crops and depopulating villages. The Dutch then realized the advantage of coming to terms with the king. In 1649 a revised treaty was signed. The Dutch agreed to hand over some of the lands but again delayed because of the immense debt the king was held to owe them. The truce with the Portuguese expired in 1652, leaving the Dutch free to resume the war. Kandyans launched attacks on Portuguese positions in the interior provinces of Seven Korales, Four Korales, and Sabaragamuwa, pushing them back to their coastal strongholds, despite fierce Portuguese resistance. Rajasinha was anxious to attack Colombo, but he was put off by the Dutch. He tried to secure guarantees from them for the return of this city after its conquest, and the Dutch made lavish promises. In August 1655 the Dutch were strengthened by the arrival of a large fleet under General Gerard Hulft, and they laid siege to Colombo by sea and by land. In May 1656 the Portuguese surrendered the city to the Dutch, who shut the Kandyans out of its gates. Requests for the cession of Colombo met with evasive replies. Highly incensed, Rajasinha destroyed the lands around Colombo, removed its inhabitants, and withdrew to his mountain kingdom. After a brief respite the Dutch resumed the expulsion of the Portuguese from Sri Lanka. Admiral Ryckloff van Goens arrived with a fleet to continue the attack on Portuguese strongholds in northern Sri Lanka. The Dutch took Mannar in February 1658 and Jaffna in June. They had replaced the Portuguese as masters of coastal Sri Lanka. History Sri Lanka has had a continuous record of settled and civilized life for more than two millennia. The content and direction of this civilization has been shaped by that of the Indian subcontinent. The island's two major ethnic groups, the Sinhalese and the Tamils, and its two dominant religious cultures, Buddhist and Hindu, made their way onto the island from India. The various expressions of literate culture parallel those of India, and overall the culture and civilization of Sri Lanka are of the Indic pattern. Yet it is also clear that in many respects the island's civilization has achieved an individuality and identity that distinguish it from its neighbour. Cultural traits brought from India have undergone independent growth and change. The Sinhala language, which grew out of Indo-Aryan dialects, exists only in Sri Lanka and has its own distinguished literary tradition. Likewise, Buddhism, which has a long history on the island, has all but disappeared from India. A common experience of European colonial rule and its modernizing influences brought Sri Lanka closer to India and, with the attainment of independence in the mid-20th century, both countries developed similar social institutions and ideologies. The historic connection between Sri Lanka and India was the result mainly of geographic proximity. Geologically an extension of peninsular India, Sri Lanka's separation from the Indian mainland could possibly be as recent as the Miocene Epoch. Historically, the island has also been influenced by its location along the east-west sea route. Even before the discovery of the oceanic route from Europe to India in the 15th century, Sri Lanka was a meeting point for Eastern and Western trade. The island was known to Greek and Roman cartographers and sailors and later to Persian, Armenian, and Arab navigators. With the coming of the Europeans, the strategic importance of Sri Lanka increased, and Western maritime powers fought to control its shores. The island's first human settlers were probably tribes of the proto-Australoid ethnic group, akin to the pre-Dravidian hill tribes of southern India. Remnants of these people were absorbed by the Indo-Aryans who immigrated from India about the 5th century BC and developed into the Sinhalese. The Tamils were probably later immigrants from Dravidian India, their migrations being spread out over a period dating from about the 3rd century BC to about AD 1200. The Tamil element was strengthened in the 19th century with the immigration of southern Indians to work on the plantations. Sri Lanka possesses a continuous historical tradition preserved in written form by Buddhist chroniclers. The core of this traditionthe chronicle called the Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle) and its continuation called the Culavamsa (Little Chronicle)constitutes a literary record of the establishment and growth of Sinhalese political power and of the Buddhist faith on the island. Prehistoric record Studies of prehistoric Sri Lanka have not yet achieved a sequence of datable strata. The Stone Age appears to have begun with the Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age (about 1,750,000 years ago), when chert and quartz were abundant because of climatic changes. The earliest Stone Age implements found were made from those materials with a technique similar to that of the Old Stone Age cultures of India, which had identical environmental conditions. The Mesolithic Period, or Middle Stone Age, has produced more artifacts on the island; microliths have been found almost throughout, especially among the grasslands in the hill country and the sandy tracts of the coast. The transformation from food gathering to food producing and some form of settled life marks the transition to the Neolithic Period, or New Stone Age (probably more than 5,000 years ago). The grinding, rubbing, and polishing of stone tools; the use of the ax; and the use of wood, horn, bone, and other materials characterize this period. The economy The economy that evolved in Sri Lanka under British rule consisted of a modern sector, the main component being plantation agriculture, and a traditional sector comprising subsistence agriculture. Manufacturing was an insignificant segment of the economy. Banking and commerce were, for the most part, ancillary to plantation agriculture. Nearly all foreign earnings were derived from the three staple plantation cropstea, rubber, and coconut. The country depended on imports for nearly three-fourths of its food requirements and almost all of its manufactured goods. During the first three decades after independence, development policy focused on two themes, equity through social welfare and substitution of imports with local products. Government price subsidies on food, statutory price controls on consumer goods, and the provision of free education and health services by the government were the principal measures guided by equity considerations. Stimulating local production to cater to an increasing share of domestic consumption and imposing diverse restrictions on imports were the main elements of the import substitution policy. The pursuance of these policies required increased government intervention in the economy. The social welfare policies achieved a measure of success in lowering mortality rates and in increasing life expectancy and literacy rates to levels seldom matched by other developing countries. However, the restrictive impact that the policies had on domestic capital accumulation and investment retarded economic growth, leading not only to soaring unemployment but also to the persistence of low incomes. The achievements of the import substitution policies were even less tangible, except perhaps in the production of rice and subsidiary food crops. Industry, starved of imported inputs and domestic investment and often mismanaged under state control, failed either to grow or to achieve acceptable standards of product quality or to remain commercially viable. The policy focus on import substitution also meant the relative neglect of plantation agriculture, which, nevertheless, had to carry a heavy burden of taxation. After the late 1970s there was a shift away from the earlier policies toward ones aimed at liberalizing the economy from excessive government controls. The new policies were designed to accelerate economic growth by stimulating private investment and to increase the country's foreign earnings by promoting export-oriented economic activities. The liberalization policies succeeded initially. Stimulated by a substantially enhanced level of foreign aid and investment, the economy became buoyant, recording, up to about 1984, real growth rates of about 6 percent per annum. Thereafter, however, there was a marked deceleration of growth, caused mainly by the disruptive effects of the ethnic conflict on economic activity. Resources In Sri Lanka the resource potential in minerals such as gemstones, graphite, ilmenite, iron ore, limestone, quartz, mica, industrial clays, and salt is large. Small but commercially extractable amounts of nonferrous metals and minerals like titanium, monazite, and zircon are contained in the beach sands of a few localities. Of fossil fuels, the only known resource is the low-grade peat found in a swampy stretch along the west coast. The land Relief A roughly triangular mountainous area known as the Central Highlands occupies the south-central region of Sri Lanka and is the heart of the country. This highland mass is surrounded by a diverse plain, the general elevation of which ranges from sea level to about 1,000 feet (300 metres). This plain accounts for about five-sixths of the country's total area. The Central Highlands have a highly dissected terrain consisting of a unique arrangement of plateaus, ridges, escarpments, intermontane basins, and valleys. Sri Lanka's highest mountainsPidurutalagala at 8,281 feet (2,524 metres), Kirigalpotta (7,858 feet), and Adam's Peak (Sri Pada; 7,559 feet)are found in this area. The highlands, except on their western and southwestern flanks, are sharply defined by a series of escarpments, the most spectacular being the so-called World's End, a near-vertical precipice of about 4,000 feet. The plain that surrounds the Central Highlands does not have an entirely flat and featureless terrain. To the north and northeast of the highlands, the plain is traversed by low ridges that decrease in altitude as they approach the coast. The western and southwestern parts of the plain feature alternating ridges and valleys running parallel to the coast and increasing in elevation toward the interior to merge imperceptibly with the highland mass. Elsewhere the flatness of the plain is sporadically interrupted by rocky buttes and mounds, some of which reach elevations of more than 1,000 feet. The plain is fringed by a coast consisting mostly of sandy beaches, spits, and lagoons. Over a few stretches of the coast there are rocky promontories and cliffs, deep-water bays, and offshore islets. Geologically, the island of Sri Lanka is considered a southerly extension of peninsular India (the Deccan), with which it shares a continental shelf and some of its basic lithologic and geomorphic characteristics. Hard, crystalline rock formations, such as granite, gneisses, khondalite (a type of metamorphic rock), and quartzite, make up about nine-tenths of the island's surface and subsurface. Drainage The surface drainage of Sri Lanka is made up of about 100 rivers, most of which are mere wet-season rivulets. Twelve major rivers account for about 75 percent of the mean annual river discharge of the country, with those that flow entirely through the Wet Zone (the highlands and the southwestern part of the country; see below) carrying about half the total discharge. With the exception of the 208-mile-long Mahaweli River, all major rivers flow radially from the Central Highlands to the sea. The Mahaweli, which originates on the western slopes of the highest areas of the highlands, follows a circuitous route in its upper reaches before it enters the plain to the east of the highlands and then flows toward the northeast coast. Because a part of its catchment is well within the Wet Zone, this river has a larger and less seasonally varied flow than the other Dry Zone rivers and so is a major asset for irrigation in the drier parts of the country (the Dry Zone includes the northern part of the country and much of the east and southeast; see below). The people Ethnic composition Ethnic, religious, and linguistic distinctions in Sri Lanka are essentially the same. Three ethnic groupsSinhalese, Tamil, and Muslimmake up more than 99 percent of the country's population, with the Sinhalese alone accounting for nearly three-fourths of the people. The Tamil segment comprises two groupsSri Lankan Tamils (long-settled descendants from southeastern India) and Indian Tamils (recent immigrants from southeastern India, most of whom were migrant workers brought to Sri Lanka under British rule). Slightly more than one-eighth of the total population belongs to the former group. Muslims, who trace their origin back to Arab traders of the 8th century, account for about 7.5 percent of the population. Burghers (a community of mixed European descent), Parsis (immigrants from western India), and Veddas (regarded as the aboriginal inhabitants of the country) total less than 1 percent of the population. The Sinhalese constitute the majority in the southern, western, central, and north-central parts of the country. In the rural areas of the Wet Zone lowlands, they account for more than 95 percent of the population. The foremost concentration of the Sri Lankan Tamils lies in the Jaffna Peninsula and in the adjacent districts of the northern lowlands. Smaller agglomerations of this group are also found along the eastern littoral where their settlements are juxtaposed with those of the Muslims. The main Muslim concentrations occur in the eastern lowlands. In other areas, such as Colombo, Kandy, Puttalam, and Gampaha, Muslims form a small but important segment of the urban and suburban population. The Indian Tamils, the vast majority of whom are plantation workers, live in large numbers in the higher areas of the Central Highlands. Language and religion Among the principal ethnic groups, language and religion determine identity. While the mother tongue of the Sinhalese is Sinhalaan Indo-Aryan languagethe Tamils speak the Dravidian language of Tamil. Again, while more than 90 percent of the Sinhalese are Buddhists, both Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils are overwhelmingly Hindu. The Muslimsadherents of Islamusually speak Tamil. Christianity draws its followers (about 7 percent of the population) from among the Sinhalese, Tamil, and Burgher communities.

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