National Day of Sri Lanka

Manila Bulletin, February 4, 2001 | Go to article overview
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National Day of Sri Lanka


SRI Lanka celebrates its Independence Day today. Over a period of 2,500 years, the island has been known by a variety of names. The ancient Greeks and Romans knew Sri Lanka as ''Taprobane'' (Greek for copper colored). Arab writers and sailors in olden days knew Sri Lanka by the name ''Serendip.''

According to the Sri Lankan historical tradition, "Lanka" was the original name of the island. It was in use for centuries until the European invasions in the 15th century. During the British period (1815-1948), the island was popularly known as "Ceylon." This name was used even after the country gained independence in 1948. With the adoption of the New Constitution in 1972, the traditional name "Sri Lanka" (Resplendid Island) was adopted, in keeping with the rich and varied culture of the nation.

Sri Lanka's economy is predominantly agricultural. A large export trade in tea, rubber, and coconut dominates commercial activities. Tea has been the principal commercial crop in Sri Lanka since the early 1870s. Ceylon Tea, said to be the best in the world, has unique characteristics and a reputation running through more than a century.

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