Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, was ruled by European Powers for more than 450 years. First invaded by the Dutch and Portuguese, Sri Lanka gained its independence from Great Britain in 1948.

In Sri Lanka live two groups – the majority Buddhist Sinhalese, and the minority Hindu Tamils. After independence, the Tamils felt discriminated against and a rebel group formed. The country endured more than 20 years of civil war, which ended in 2009.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful, tropical island located in the Indian Ocean off the tip of India. With over 1,000 miles of beaches, it’s a popular tourist destination. The island is home to many animals, including elephants, and tropical plants. Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons, one in spring and one in fall.

Image of sri lanka lion statues


Fun Facts

  • 21 million people live in Sri Lanka.
  • Maithripala Sirisena is the President of Sri Lanks (Data 2018)
  • The country has 25,332 square miles of land.
  • Sri Lanka is known as the “Pearl in the Indian Ocean” because of its beauty
  • The official languages include Sinhala and Tamil.
  • Buddhism is the main religion, followed by Hinduism. Muslim and Christian followers also live here.
  • The life expectancy in Sri Lanka is 76.5 years.
  • The Sinharaja Forest Reserve has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site by UNESCO. It is a major tourist destination. It is classified a rain forest and over 250 species of tree frogs can be found here.
  • At 2,524 m Pidurutalagala is the highest mountain in Sri Lanka
  • Flowing for 335 km (208 miles) the Mahaweli River is the longest river in Sri Lanka



  1. Majority: largest group
  2. Minority: smallest group
  3. Discriminate: treat unfairly
  4. Rebel: one who rises up to fight or disagree with others
  5. Monsoon: heavy rains


Learn More

Visit the BBC to see photos of Sri Lanka.

Extra Credit

Question: What are the main industries in Sri Lanka?

Answer: Great Britain developed tea plantations which still produce tea. Sri Lanka is also known for its tourism and garment making. Factories here make clothing which is shipped to other countries.