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Transcript of Chapter
History of the Islands
Life in the Islands
Settlement of Sri Lanka
In the sixth century people came to the northern plains of India, they were called Sinhalese. They adopted many of the natives ways and Buddhism, they built irrigation systems and improved farming. In the fourth century A.D. the Tamils, they brought diversity in culture and language to Sri Lanka. Europeans began to colonize in the 16th century, the first to come over were the Portuguese then the Dutch. Tension between the Tamil and Sinhalese rose after they gained independence and a civil war broke out in 1983. 70,000 casualties had been a result of the violence until the Tamil Tigers were finally defeated by the Sri Lankan troops in 2009.
A Muslim State in the Maldives
The Maldives originally were settled by Buddhists and Hindus from Sri Lanka and India in the sixth century B.C. Many Arab traders were in the area and the population eventually converted to Islam. The area has had six Muslim leaders govern the Maldives. The Maldives is one of the smallest independent nations in the world.
Ethnic Mosaic of the Islands
Sri Lanka has a diverse population with varying ethnicities and cultures. The majority are Sinhalese Buddhists, they make up around 69 percent of the population and Tamil Hindus make up about 18 percent of the population. About 8 percent are Muslim and a small percentage of Christians, as well. These groups live in certain concentrated areas with people of similar traditions and lifestyles.
The Maldives is also multi-ethnic. Many people are descendants of the early Sinhalese and Dravidian people mixed with various other ethnicities. Davehi is the official language and is mainly found only on the island, English, Hindi and Arabic are also spoken.
Cultural Life in Sri Lanka
Much of the cultures in Sri Lanka are surrounded by religion. Temples, mosques and churches are all over the region. Art and literature are heavily affected by the differing cultures in the areas. Dancing is very popular in Sri Lanka, many tell stories and can also be used to honor people. Music is goes hand in hand with dancing and is therefore very popular.
Cultural Life in the Maldives
The Maldivian culture is strongly influenced my Muslim traditions, Islam is the only religion allowed in the area. African influences also affect their unique dance called “bodu beru”.
Economic Activity in the Islands
Sri Lanka’s economy is mostly based on rice farming and other agricultural activities. The area has large amounts of land reserved for agriculture, they produce, rubber, tea and coconuts. Sri Lanka is one of the world’s leading tea producing countries. Sri Lanka is also very well known for its gemstones, such as sapphires, topaz, and rubies. Tourism has replaced most fishing and other small industries, the island is beautiful and profits from its aesthetics.
In the 1980’s the tourism industry in Sri Lanka was booming until the civil war broke out collapsing it. The war hurt the economy and the infrastructure, making tourism impossible. Sri Lanka now has a new concern, global warming could soon take over the low lying islands. The melting of polar ice caps has caused a rise in sea level and threatens the islands.
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