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Sri Lanka
Facts
Area: 65,610 sq km
Population: 19.4 million
Languages: Tamil, English
Religions: Buddhism, Hindu, Christianity, Islam
GNI per capita: US$1,540
Currency: LKR (Sri Lankan rupee);1USD = 108.33 rupees
 
Lying off the southern tip of India, the tropical island of Sri Lanka has beguiled travelers for centuries with its palm-fringed beaches, diverse landscapes and historical monuments. However, the island has been scarred by a long and bitter civil war arising out of ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in the northeast. Tamil Tiger rebels carrying out devastating suicide bombings in Colombo in the 1990s. The violence killed more than 60,000 people, damaged the economy and harmed tourism in one of South Asia's potentially prosperous societies. After more than 25 years of violence, the conflict appeared to be at an end - at least militarily - in May 2009, when government forces eliminated the last area controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels. 
 
Sri Lanka’s climate is generally hot and humid except for a dry zone in the north and southeastern coastal areas. A southwest monsoon begins during the second half of May and brings rain until the end of September, while a northeast monsoon brings hot, dry weather from November until February.
 
Though just 16 percent of Sri Lanka’s land is suitable for farming, the country is heavily dependent on agriculture. Only recently did the garment industry surpass agriculture in export income. Many Sri Lankans farm with outdated equipment and grow only enough to feed their families.

Poor sanitation and polluted drinking water are a frequent cause of disease, especially among children. Sponsorship is helping many communities build latrines and develop a source of clean drinking water.

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