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In antiquity, Sri Lanka was known to travellers by a variety of names.
According to the Mahavamsa, the legendary Prince Vijaya named the land Tambapanni ("copper-red hands" or "copper-red earth"), because his followers' hands were reddened by the red soil of the area.
Sri Lanka was engulfed in a bitter civil war for 30 years between the government and the Tamil Tigers, who were fighting for an independent state for the Tamil speaking minority.
The war ended in May 2009 but the consequences persist, and heavy emigration is still slowing Sri Lanka's population growth.
Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a semi-presidential system.
, Tamil: இலங்கை Ilaṅkai), officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, historically called Ceylon, is an island country in South Asia.
Colombo is often referred to as the capital since Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is within the urban area of, and a satellite city of, Colombo.