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"Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white;
And reigns the winter's pregnant silence still;
No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill,
And willow stems grow daily red and bright.
These are days when ancients held a rite
Of expiation for the old year's ill,
And prayer to purify the new year's will."
Helen Hunt Jackson, A Calendar of Sonnet's: February
Learn English in February

Sri Lanka

mheredgemheredge Posts: 41,662 ✭✭✭✭
As some of you might have gathered, I'm in Sri Lanka for a few week. I don't know if there are any students from here. I have been asked a few times what is the difference between Sri Lanka and India, so I thought it worth putting the record straight. Sri Lanka is very different in many ways.

Sri Lanka might have been part of the British Empire, but these days is far from being anything like India. That has never been part of India, having a distinctive culture of its own. Located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of southern India the island is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The legislative capital is in fact a suburb of the largest city, Colombo.

Its documented history goes back 3,000 years but there's evidence of prehistoric settlements reaching back 125,000 years. Known as Ceylon under British colonial rule, it gained independance just after India, in 1948, adopting its present name in 1972. Sri Lanka's more recent history has been damaged by a 26-year civil war between the government and Tamil Liberation Tigers that ended in 2009. More recently (April), Colombo hit the headlines when there were some suicide bomb attacks, the responsibility claimed by Muslims.

A founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), member of the UN, Commonwealth of Nations, G77, and Non-Aligned Movement, Sri Lanka plays an active role in the international arena. Sri Lanka is one of only two South Asian countries rated "high" on the Human Development Index (HDI), with its HDI rating and per capita income the highest among South Asian nations. (The Maldives shares this status.)

It is a small island but is the home to many cultures, languages and ethnicities. Most people are Sinhalese, who are mainly Buddhist, but there is a large minority population of Tamils (Hindu), as well as Moors (Muslim), Burghers, Malays, Chinese, and the indigenous Vedda. There are also Christians and the country celebrates all religious festivals. It is second only to Cambodia for the number of days of national holidays.


  • Practical_SeverardPractical_Severard Posts: 2,333 ✭✭✭✭
    They have some surfing spots too!
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 41,662 ✭✭✭✭
    The beaches are lovely @Practical_Severard. I saw surfers have a whale of a time in the surf nearby. I might go whale watching if I can get my act together.
  • Practical_SeverardPractical_Severard Posts: 2,333 ✭✭✭✭
    mheredge said:

    The beaches are lovely @Practical_Severard. I saw surfers have a whale of a time in the surf nearby. I might go whale watching if I can get my act together.

    You surely can, @mheredge ! So a whale of a time of whale warching is expecting you!
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 41,662 ✭✭✭✭
    I took a bus back from Colombo yesterday. The trains are too crowded at the moment, what with the school holidays and influx of foreign tourists for Christmas. Some Sri Lankans have the fortnight off too. My friend here, who's a lawyer told me the courts close for two weeks. This means anyone languishing in jail awaiting their hearing have to spend Christmas there, until the courts open again in the new year.
  • VokVok Posts: 1,760 ✭✭✭✭
    I don't remember whether you've mentioned it or not @mheredge , but have you been to Sri Lanka before?
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 41,662 ✭✭✭✭
    @Vok I visited for two weeks 6 years ago. I managed to see most of the main sites. This time I am enjoying just relaxing, reading books and doing as little as possible. I don't want to see everything because I then will have a good excuse to come back.
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