Sri Lanka. According to Countryaah.com, hundreds of Sri Lankans demonstrated in January to stop a deal between Sri Lanka and state-owned Chinese company China Merchants Port Holdings. The agreement involved a Chinese industrial zone in the port of Hambantota that China would pay to establish. During the protests, clashes occurred between protesters and police in which one person died and about 40 were injured.
In the capital Colombo, 21 people were killed in April when a 91-meter high dump tip collapsed after it started burning in it. 145 small houses were buried in the rubbish dumps. One of the survivors told the media how he heard a massive sound like thunderstorms when the garbage dump collapsed. Then the tiles in his house were crushed and dirty water seeped in.
More than 200 people were reported to have died and more than 100 people were missing following heavy monsoon rains in May. The rains, which caused landslides and heavy flooding, forced more than half a million residents to flee their homes. The weather mainly affected the country’s eastern and western parts and is said to have been the worst in Sri Lanka since 2003. As a result of the rain, an intense dengue fever epidemic that in July had caused 300 deaths and infected more than 100,000 people, according to Sri Lanka’s health department.
In July, the agreement between Sri Lanka and Chinese state-owned China Merchants Port Holdings was finalized – despite strong protests from residents as well as trade unions and opposition supporters. The agreement means that China, for the equivalent of US $ 1.1 billion, will have the right to lease and operate the port of Hambantota for 99 years. In addition, 70% of the revenue will go to China. Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the deal would offer Sri Lanka 100,000 new jobs. In addition, the country’s acute foreign debt would be reduced. According to the Reuters news agency, Sri Lanka had a foreign debt of US $ 26.52 billion in March. But critics in both Sri Lanka and the US, India and Japan expressed fear that the port could be used for military purposes in the future as well.
In August, the country’s foreign minister Ravi Karunanayake resigned after he was suspected of a bond fraud.
The government announced in September that a large cannabis cultivation of 40 hectares would be allowed in the country. The annual production was estimated at 25 tonnes and would be protected by the military. Cannabis is prohibited from smoking and holding in Sri Lanka, but is used as an ingredient in the manufacture of traditional medicine. Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said in a statement that the decision was made after naturalists complained that the quality of the drug could be poor when it was obtained through courts after police seizures. According to the media, any surplus of cannabis would be sold to the US market.
General information about Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s lush, mountainous central part of the island, known as Ceylon until 1972, is located on the southeast coast of India. Buddhism lives on the island, which is still the religion of the majority population, the Sinhalese. The Tamil minority in the north is Hindu. The coexistence of these two ethnic groups has not always been smooth. The last years of hatred ended in peacemaking in 2002. There have been plenty of outside conquerors attracted to the island in the history of Sri Lanka: the Portuguese came five hundred years ago, followed by the Dutch and most recently the British. Independence was gained in 1948. The devastating Tsunami Day in 2004 swept entire cities off the map, killing 40,000 people and leaving a million islanders homeless.
A tour of Sri Lanka provides access to stunning historical sites as well as natural beauty and the country’s diverse fauna. Both Hindu and Buddhist influences are present in Polonnaruwa, a thriving Sinhalese ruin city a thousand years ago. The large rocky figures of Gal Vihara depict the Buddha as calming down to meditate or transitioning to nirvana. The partially preserved temples and palaces are again dedicated to the key deities of Hindus. The historical paintings of the rock caves of Dambulla also tell of the life of the Buddha. The colors applied to the walls glow as bright as at the time of painting a thousand years ago. One of the most remarkable capitals of the world is the 200-meter-high granite rock of Sigiriya, on the top of which the Sinhalese rulers tried to defend their kingdom against Hindu milks from India 1,500 years ago. The ascent to Sigiriya requires very good condition and is not suitable for high-pitched people. Pain on the ceiling, however, rewards with handsome views and elegant frescoes about court life. Located in the central part of the island, the UNESCO-protected Kandy is one of the most significant pilgrimage sites in the entire Buddhist world, preserving the tooth of Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of the religion.
Tea arrived in Sri Lanka only with the English. Nuwara Eliya in the mountainous central part of the island is known as the home region of Ceylon tea. The green carpet of the tea bushes covers the rolling hillsides, where a group of women are advancing rapidly with cloth bags on their backs picking up the freshest leaves for drying every morning. Like tea, spices and coconuts are among the products grown in Sri Lanka. On jeep safaris in Yala or Wilpattu National Parks, for example, you can see many large mammals, the rarest of which are Leopards, lip bears, ax deer and Asian elephants.
Galle, built by the Portuguese on the south coast in the 16th century, and its UNESCO-protected fortress tell of the country’s colonial past. During the Portuguese conquest, the oldest parts of the country’s capital, Colombo, with their slave quarters were also built. Dutch and English colonial hosts left their own mark on its architecture. In Colombo, it is difficult to name any single area as the actual city center, rather one could speak of a cluster of different neighborhoods unless the center is chosen for the new parliament building designed by world-renowned Sri Lankan architect Bawa. The Colombo area is known for its comfortable beach resorts such as Negombo or Chilaw.