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Formerly known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is a little island south of India. It became independent in 1948 and had the world's first elected female head of state. Until recently had an intermittent civil war that ended with the government’s victory.
It’s also known for producing tea and being the refuge of Arthur C. Clarke in his later years. He actually stated Sri Lanka as the ideal place to build an Space Elevator in The Fountains of Paradise (though he had to move the equator some grades up, since an orbital elevator only could be constructed near it). Sri Lanka produces many other spices and luxury products as well--it's when cinammon originated, and is the first place where the cinchona tree (source of quinine) was cultivated outside its native South America.
In the seventeenth century the island was fought over by the Dutch and Portuguese. The Dutch won, but were unable to subdue the native Kingdom of Kandy in the interior. This didn't happen until Britain took over the island due to the Dutch having been conquered by the French in the Napoleonic Wars, and "forgot" to give it back again afterwards. The fact that it produced a lot of tea had absolutely nothing to do with this.
One of the most important centers of Buddhism. Also important in Hinduism, specifically the Ramayana, in which Hanuman builds a bridge from India to the island, which is identified with the (real) undersea causeway--plans to cut shipping channels in this causeway ran into religious controversy for this reason.