Moving to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s position in the Indian Ocean, vital for maintaining the ancient Silk Road trade route between East and West, has meant that the tropical island country has always attracted a diverse mix of peoples to live, work and enjoy its abundant natural treasures. Variously known as the “Teardrop of India”, “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean” and “The Land of Smiling People” due to its location, beauty and welcoming inhabitants respectively, Sri Lanka had plenty to recommend it to potential immigrants even before the economic successes of recent years.
Fought over by the Portuguese, Dutch and British during the colonial era for its capacity to produce large quantities of rubber, cinnamon and tea for export to Europe, Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. The first South Asian country to liberalise its economy it has been rocked in recent times by a 26 year civil war between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam which came to a bloody conclusion in 2009 and the 2004 tsunami which killed over 35,000 Sri Lankans. But since 2005 the per capita income in Sri Lanka has doubled and the rate of poverty cut nearly in half. The end of fighting has also seen reductions in inequality and a low, stable unemployment rate.
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The population of Sri Lanka is a demographic kaleidoscope of ethnicities and religions. Ethnic Tamils and Sinhalese provide the two official national languages. While 70% of islanders practice Buddhism there are also large numbers of Muslims, Hindus and Christians. This multi-ethnic and multi-faith population fills the calendar with festivals and celebrations to the extent that the nations largest city, Colombo, is rarely unlit and never quiet. These festivities culminate in the Hindu New Year celebrations of April and the Buddhist Vesak celebrations of May when lanterns crowd the streets and fragrant curry and rice dishes are shared freely.