Previously known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is a jewel hanging from the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent like a tropical dew-drop. Famous for its varieties of tea and cinnamon, the island bears many traces of its millennial civilization and today is a shining example not only of economic growth and development, but also of social and cultural progress. In recent decades the country has succeeded in reducing its dependence on plantation agriculture and developing a wider economic fabric. This path has also led to its population becoming one of the best educated among Developing Countries. Its cities in coastal areas are technologically modern and innovative, while its mountainous interior maintains its wild heart and spectacularly florid tropical forests.
Food security through development
Sri Lanka today is the result of a lengthy transition which from the latter part of the twentieth century until the present has led it out of a plantation economy into a broader model of constant development. Previously tea, cinnamon and rubber were its main products, having been introduced by the British colonizers. Exported all over the world, both tea and spices remain major sources of income, but these have been joined by many other crops which ensures the country’s inhabitants a more dependable food supply. Since the 1990s, the production of rice has practically doubled, to compensate for the increased population, whose growth rate has now stabilized.
Production of almost all food crops and productions has risen significantly, including aquaculture and stock breeding… the latter, in Sri Lanka, is generally combined with coconut plantation, with herds grazing in the shadow of the palm trees. As well as this agricultural development, the industrial and mining sectors too have played a fundamental role in creating modern Sri Lanka, and as a result the country is now famous for its textile industry and its jewelry sector. In recent years tourism has also developed notably, thanks to the country’s extraordinary cultural and naturalistic heritage, recognized with no less than eight UNESCO heritage sites: the Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple, the Fortress of Sigiriya, the ancient capital Anuradhapura, the cities of Galle and Polonnaruwa, the underground Temple of Dambulla, the Sinharaja Forest and the Central Highlands.
A multicultural cuisine
The complex millennial history of Sri Lanka is characterized by a succession of empires and rulers. This process has deposited multiple layers in the country’s culture, leaving elements of Hindu, Buddhist, Arab, Chinese and European influence. Consequently, this deep multicultural nature has shaped the nation’s extremely refined cuisine, enriched by its abundant tropical spices and fruit. As throughout Asia, rice provides the foundation of all meals, but comes with a huge variety of accompaniments – frequently curries – including vegetables, meat or fish, or even cooked “Dutch style”, with meatballs. Delicious desserts and fruit juices are numerous and varied.