- an island republic in the Indian Ocean, S of India: a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. 25,332 sq. mi. (65,610 sq. km). Capital: Colombo.
- a republic in S Asia, occupying the island of Ceylon: settled by the Sinhalese from S India in about 550 bc; became a British colony 1802; gained independence in 1948, becoming a republic within the Commonwealth in 1972. Exports include tea, cocoa, cinnamon, and copra. Official languages: Sinhalese and Tamil; English is also widely spoken. Religion: Hinayana Buddhist majority. Currency: Sri Lanka rupee. Capital: Colombo (administrative), Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (legislative). Parts of the coast suffered badly in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Pop: 21 675 648 (2013 est). Area: 65 610 sq km (25 332 sq miles)Official name (since 1978): Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Former name (until 1972): Ceylon
Word Origin and History for sri lanka
large island southeast of India (known in English until 1972 as Ceylon), from Lanka, older name for the island and its chief city + Sanskrit sri "beauty" (especially of divinities, kings, heroes, etc.), also an honorific prefix to proper names, from PIE root *kreie- "to be outstanding, brilliant, masterly, beautiful" (cf. Greek kreon "lord, master").