Lanka after 37-yr civil war
PARIS, Apr 22: The tropical island of Sri Lanka, hit by a series of deadly blasts on Sunday, emerged in 2009 from a 37-year civil war led by Tamil separatists.
Ethnic, religious mix
The island covers 65,000 square kilometres (25,000 square miles) with a population of 21.4 million, of which nearly three quarters are ethnic Sinhalese.
The Tamils, the second-largest ethnic group, make up more than 15 percent of the population and live mainly in the north and northeast.
The majority of Sri Lankans are Buddhist -- 70 percent, mostly Sinhalese -- while 12 percent are Hindus, mostly Tamils, and Muslims count 10 percent of the population, and Christians about six percent.
The former Ceylon became a British colony in 1815 having previously been controlled by the Portuguese from 1505 to 1656 and the Dutch from 1656 to 1796.
Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain in 1948.
Tamil rebels launched a separatist campaign state in 1972, triggering a civil war that lasted 37 years.
The Tamil uprising was crushed by a Sinhalese-majority government in 2009 after a conflict estimated to have claimed up to 100,000 lives.
Government troops have been accused of killing at least 40,000 Tamil civilians in the last months of the civil war. No one has been prosecuted for war crimes in the decade since the conflict ended.
In 2019 Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a general accused by the UN of war crimes against Tamils to the country's second-highest army ranking, evoking outcry from rights groups.
Tea, tourists, and radical monks
Following the end of the civil war, international tourism flourished, with more than two million visitors per year since 2016, compared to 448,000 in 2009.
But religious tensions have been stoked by extremist Buddhist monks amid accusations of instigating hate crimes against minority Muslims.
In 2018 the Colombo government imposed for the first time since 2011 a nationwide state of emergency, lasting some 10 days, in a bid to quell anti-Muslim violence after riots left three people dead. -AFP