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Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Sinhala: ශ්රී ලංකාව,, is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Known until 1972 as Ceylon ( /sɨˈlɒn/, /seɪˈlɒn/, or /siːˈlɒn/), Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar, the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the Maldives.
As a result of its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia. It was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. Sri Lanka has also been a center of the Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times, being the nation where the Buddhist teachings were first written down as well as the oldest continually Buddhist country. Sri Lanka boasts a diverse range of cultures, languages and religions. The Sinhalese people form the majority of the population; Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, form the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include Moors, Burghers, Kaffirs, Malays and the aboriginal Vedda people.
Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state which is governed by a semi-presidential system with its official seat of government in Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, the capital. The country is famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, gemstones, coconuts, rubber and cinnamon, the last of which is native to the country. Sri Lanka has been called The Pearl of the Indian Ocean. The island contains tropical forests, and diverse landscapes with high biodiversity. The country lays claim to a long and colourful history of over three thousand years, having one of the longest documented histories in the world. Sri Lanka's rich culture can be attributed to the many different communities on the island. The country is a founding member state of SAARC and a member of United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, G77 and Non-Aligned Movement. As of 2011, Sri Lanka was one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
The culture of Sri Lanka dates back over 2500 years. It is influenced primarily by Buddhism and Hinduism. According to Islamic folklore, Adam and Eve were offered refuge on the island as solace for their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The island is the home to two main traditional cultures: the Sinhalese (centred in the ancient cities of Kandy and Anuradhapura) and the Tamil (centred in the city of Jaffna). In more recent times, the British colonial culture has also influenced the locals. Sri Lanka claims a democratic tradition matched by few other developing countries.
The first Tamil immigration was probably around the 3rd century BC. Tamils co-existed with the Sinhalese people since then, and the early mixing rendered the two ethnic groups almost physically indistinct. Ancient Sri Lanka is marked for its genius in hydraulic engineering and architecture. The rich cultural traditions shared by all Sri Lankan cultures is the basis of the country's long life expectancy, advanced health standards and high literacy rate.
Galle (Sinhala: ගාල්ල;Tamil: காலி) (pronounced as one syllable in English, /ˈɡɔːl/ "Gaul", and as two in Sinhalese, [ɡaːlːə]) is a city situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, 119 km from Colombo. Galle is the capital city of Southern Province of Sri Lanka and it lies in Galle District.
Galle was known as Gimhathiththa (although Ibn Batuta in the 14th century refers to it as Qali[verification needed]) before the arrival of thePortuguese in the 16th century, when it was the main port on the island. Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, during the Dutch colonial period. The major river is Gin River (Gin Ganga) which starts from Gongala Kanda and passing villages such as Neluwa, Nagoda, Baddegama, Thelikada, and Wakwella, reaches the sea at Ginthota. In Wakwella over the river there is Wakwella Bridge, which is the longest bridge in Sri Lanka.