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Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.

Its
documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of pre-historic human settlements dating back
to at least 125,000 years.[7] Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic
importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road[8] through to World War II.[9]
A diverse and multicultural country, Sri Lanka is home to many religions, ethnic groups, and
languages.[10] In addition to the majority Sinhalese, it is home to large groups of Sri
Lankan and Indian Tamils, Moors, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Vedda.[11] Sri Lanka
has a rich Buddhist heritage, and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pli Canon,
dates back to the Fourth Buddhist council in 29 BC.[12][13] Sri Lanka's recent history has been marred
by a thirty-year civil warwhich decisively ended when Sri Lankan military defeated Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam in 2009.[14]
Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a Semi-presidential system. The legislative
capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo.
Sri Lanka has had a long history of international engagement, as a founding member of the South
Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and a member of the United Nations,
the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Along with Maldives it is
one of the two countries in South Asia that are currently rated "high" on the Human Development
Index.[4]
The Anuradhapura Kingdom was established in 380 BCE during the reign of Pandukabhaya of
Anuradhapura. Thereafter, Anuradhapura served as the capital city of the country for nearly 1,400
years.[38] Ancient Sri Lankans excelled at building certain types of structures (constructions) such
as tanks, dagobas and palaces.[39] Society underwent a major transformation during the reign
of Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura, with the arrival of Buddhism from India. In 250 BC,
[40]

Mahinda, the son of theMauryan Emperor Ashoka and a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) arrived

in Mihintale carrying the message of Buddhism.[41] His mission won over the monarch, who embraced
the faith and propagated it throughout the Sinhalese population.[42]
Succeeding kingdoms of Sri Lanka would maintain a large number of Buddhist schools and
monasteries and support the propagation of Buddhism into other countries in Southeast Asia. Sri
Lankan Bhikkhus studied in India's famous ancient Buddhist University ofNalanda, which was
destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji. It is probable that many of the scriptures from Nalanda are preserved
in Sri Lanka's many monasteries and that the written form of the Tipitaka, including Sinhalese
Buddhist literature, were part of the University of Nalanda. [43] In 245
BC, bhikkhuni Sangamitta arrived with the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree, which is considered to be a

sapling from the historical Bodhi tree under which Gautama Buddha became enlightened.[44] It is
considered the oldest human-planted tree (with a continuous historical record) in the world.
(Bodhivamsa)[45]