DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF
Sri Lanka, officially the democratic socialist republic of Sri Lanka and known from the beginning of British colonial rule until 1972 as Ceylon, is an island country in South Asia near south-east India. A diverse and multicultural country, Sri Lanka is home to many religions, ethnic groups, and languages. In addition to the majority Sinhalese, it is home to large groups of Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils, Moors, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Vedda. The climate is tropical and warm, due to the moderating effects of ocean winds. Mean temperatures range from 17°C (62.6°F) in the central highlands, where frost may occur for several days in the winter, to a maximum of 33°C (91.4 °F) in other low-altitude areas. The coastline and adjacent waters support highly productive marine ecosystems such as fringing coral reefs and shallow beds of coastal and estuarine sea grasses. A remarkably high proportion of the species among its flora and fauna, 27% of the 3,210 flowering plants and 22% of the mammals are endemic. Sri Lanka has declared 24 wildlife reserves, which are home to a wide range of native species such as Asian elephants, leopards, sloth bears, the unique small Loris, a variety of deer, the purple faced langur, the endangered wild boar, porcupines and Indian pangolins.
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