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Sri Lanka:
Geography

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Background
Definition
The first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C. probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced in about the mid-third century B.C., and a great civilization developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (kingdom from circa 200 B.C. to circa A.D. 1000) and Polonnaruwa (from about 1070 to 1200). In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty established a Tamil kingdom in northern Sri Lanka. The coastal areas of the island were controlled by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century. The island was ceded to the British in 1796, became a crown colony in 1802, and was united under British rule by 1815. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. Tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted into war in 1983. Tens of thousands have died in the ethnic conflict that continues to fester. After two decades of fighting, the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formalized a cease-fire in February 2002 with Norway brokering peace negotiations. Violence between the LTTE and government forces intensified in 2006 and the government regained control of the Eastern Province in 2007. In January 2008, the government officially withdrew from the ceasefire, and has begun engaging the LTTE in the northern portion of the country.
Location
Definition
Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India
Geographic coordinates
Definition
7 00 N, 81 00 E
Map references
Definition
Asia
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 65,610 sq km
land: 64,740 sq km
water: 870 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly larger than West Virginia
Land boundaries
Definition
0 km
Coastline
Definition
1,340 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate
Definition
tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
Terrain
Definition
mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m
Natural resources
Definition
limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 13.96%
permanent crops: 15.24%
other: 70.8% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
7,430 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
50 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 12.61 cu km/yr (2%/2%/95%)
per capita: 608 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
occasional cyclones and tornadoes
Environment - current issues
Definition
deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching and urbanization; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff; waste disposal; air pollution in Colombo
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note
Definition
strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes


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