Sri Lanka Flag and Coat of arms
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The National Anthem


Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon before 1952) is a predominantly Buddhist island nation in South Asia, located about 31 kilometres (18½ mi) off the southern coast of India. It is often popularly
referred to as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. It is home to more than 20 million people.

A strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia, Sri Lanka has been an ancient centre of Buddhist religion and culture. Significant numbers of people also adhere to Hindu, Christianity, Islam and indigenous religions. Sinhalese people form a
majority of the population (74%), which also consists of smaller communities of Tamil, Muslims, Burghers and indigenous peoples. Famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, rubber and coconuts, Sri Lanka also boasts a progressive and modern industrial economy. The natural beauty of Sri Lanka's tropical forests, beaches and landscape and rich cultural heritage make it a famous destination for tourists worldwide.

After over a thousand years of rule by independent kingdoms, Sri Lanka was colonised by Portugal and the Dutch before passing to the control of the British Empire.During World War II it served as an important base in the fight against the Japanese. A
nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century to obtain political independence, which was granted in 1948. Although it enjoyed a stable period of democracy and economic progress, the nation has been torn by a bloody civil war between the Sinhalese-dominated government and Tamil separatists led by the LTTE
who demand an independent Tamil state in northeastern Sri Lanka. Tsunamis caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake devastated the southern and north-eastern part of the nation, causing the deaths and displacement of a large segment of the population.


The Name

In 1972, the official name of the country was changed to "Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka" (whereas the island itself is referred to as lankāva).  In 1978 it was changed to "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka". Prior to 1972, Sri Lanka was known by a variety of names: ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobane, Arabs referred to it as Serendib, Ceilão was the name given to Sri Lanka when the Portuguese arrived on the island, but perhaps the best known is Ceylon. "Sri Lanka" (originally Sanskrit) is translated as "venerable Lanka", "śrī" meaning venerable" and "la­kā" being the ancient name of the island as attested in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.


The Flag
Green represents the Islamic minority. Orange stands for the Hindu Tamils. The sword denotes authority. The four pipul leaves symbolize Buddhism.


The National Anthem
"Sri Lanka Matha" is the national anthem of Sri Lanka. The words and music were written by Ananda Samarakoon in 1940 in the Sinhala language, and were officially adopted as the national anthem on November 22, 1951.

(English Translation)

Mother Lanka we worship Thee!
Plenteous in prosperity, Thou,
Beauteous in grace and love,
Laden with corn and luscious fruit
And fragrant flowers of radiant hue,
Giver of life and all good things,
Our land of joy and victory,
Receive our grateful praise sublime,
Lanka! we worship Thee.
Thou gavest us Knowledge and Truth,
Thou art our strength and inward faith,
Our light divine and sentient being,
Breath of life and liberation.
Grant us, bondage free, inspiration.
Inspire us for ever.
In wisdom and strength renewed,
Ill-will, hatred, strife all ended,
In love enfolded, a mighty nation
Marching onward, all as one,
Lead us, Mother, to fullest freedom.