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Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon until 1972. Sri Lanka is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar, the Palk Strait and lies in the vicinity of India and 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. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill described the moment a Japanese fleet prepared to invade Sri Lanka a s"the most dangerous and distressing moment of the entire conflict.
It has also been a center of the Buddhism religion and culture from ancient times and is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia along with Ladakh, Bhutan and the Chittagong Hill Tracts
The Sinhalese people community forms the majority of the population; Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, form the largest minority group. Other communities include Sri Lankan Moors, Burgher people, Sri Lanka Kaffir people, Malays (ethnic group) and the aboriginal Vedda people.
The country is famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, coconuts, rubber and cinnamon, the last of which is native to the country. The natural beauty of Sri Lanka has led to the title ''The Pearl of the Indian Ocean''. The island is laden with lush tropical forests, white beaches and diverse landscapes with rich biodiversity. The country lays claim to a long and colorful history of over three thousand years, having one of the longest documented histories in the world.