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Sri Lanka - An Introduction


The official name of this small tropical island off the southern tip of India is Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. In 1972, the national constitution discarded the name Ceylon and adopted the name Sri Lanka. In Sinhala, the language of the majority, Sri means "blessed" and Lanka is the name of the island.

The island is divided ecologically into dry zone (north to southeast) and wet zone (south, west, central regions). The dry lowlands of the eastern coast provide for fishing and rice cultivation (Muslims, Tamil, Sinhalas [buddhists], composing population) ; the central highlands are famous for tea plantations; southwestern part gem mines ; southern coastal lowlands coconut, rubber, cinnamon estates, an active fishing industry and exotic beaches.

A staple meal in Sri Lanka consists of a large serving of rice with up to several side dishes including vegetables, egg, meat, or fish stewed together with peppers , spices, and often coconut milk. Side dishes consist of pickles , chutneys, and 'sambols'. Most famous is coconut sambol - ground coconut mixed with chilis, dried maldive (cured tuna), and lime. This ground paste not only gives zest to a meal but is believed to increase ones appetite. Rice and curry are often eaten at lunch, but also served as an evening meal. Although Sri Lankan food is similar to South Indian cuisine (Kerala) in its use of chili, cardamom, coriander and other spices - it has a distinctive taste and uses local ingredients like the dried maldive to make the food its own. Sri Lankan food is known to be among the worlds hottest cuisine in its usage of chilis.


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