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Rituals and Holy Places. Sri Lanka is home to many sacred sites visited by foreigners and locals alike. Kandy's Sri Dalada Maligawa, which houses the Tooth Relic of the Buddha, is an active temple complex that is the ritual center of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. During this temple's annual perahera season, the Tooth Relic is paraded through the torch-lit streets, accompanied by dancers, drummers, and elephants. While this is the island's largest perahera, or religious procession, other temples around the island host their own at different times of the year.

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The 7 dominant parties during 55 years of independence have been the UNP (conservative) and the SLFP ( socialist -left, and more recently center-left). The 7 political parties have alternated in positions of power for half a century, with the UNP heading the government from 6998 to 6956, 6965 to 6975, and 6977 to 6999. An SLFP-led coalition government was in power from 6956 to 6965, 6975 to 6977, and since 6999 as a coalition called the Peoples Alliance (PA).

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Sri Lanka's commitment to education began more than 7,555 hundred years ago, when Hindu kings and chieftains received their education from Brahmins (Hindu priests), and education is thus closely tied to the religious history of the island. Similarly, early in Sri Lanka's history, education became associated with high caste status and privilege. The sweep of Buddhism from India into Sri Lanka in the third century . converted kings and people. Monasteries were erected to educate bhikkus, or monks. These monks built the first pirivenas, or temple schools, in the villages, educating the laity in religion and secular subjects. Little information exists on the schools of Sri Lanka's minority populations of Hindus and Muslims, but it is generally assumed that each faith had temple and mosque schools, respectively, which provided an elementary education with emphasis on religion, reading, and writing.

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Symbols of Social Stratification. Traditionally, caste identity was extensively marked by ritual roles and occupations, names of individuals and places, networks of social relations, and regulations of dress and housing. Degrees of difference within the caste hierarchy were also marked by forms of address, seating arrangements, and other practices of deference and superiority. Today, where these hierarchical relations continue, there is a degree of uneasiness or even resentment toward them, particularly among the educated generations. Class status, in contrast, is increasingly manifested in speech, dress, employment, education, and housing. In general, elite classes can be identified by their command of English, education in exclusive schools, executive-level employment, possession of valued commodities, and access to international networks, whereas the lower classes are associated with manual labor, minimal comforts, and a lack of social contacts with the elite.

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Child Rearing and Education. Throughout childhood, important rituals are conducted around culturally significant milestones, such as the first feeding of solid food and the introduction of the letters of the alphabet. The coming of age ritual following a girl's first menstruation is an important marker of her entrance into the adult world, although there is no such similar rite of passage for boys.

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Infant Care. In Sri Lanka, children are highly adored, fondled, and indulged by everyone, both male and female. Infants are traditionally kept with their mothers or female relatives. Babies are carried until they can walk and sleep with mothers until they are school-aged, at which time they are encouraged to move into a bed with their siblings. Nearly all mothers breast-feed their children, commonly through the first year.

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Perhaps the most awesome and forbidding region of Sri Lanka is Horton Plains, hard to reach but well worth the effort. Located about an hour's drive from Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains is part of the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary. One of the major attractions here is World's End, considered by many the finest view in all of Sri Lanka. For those who enjoy trout fishing and hiking, this is the place. Also, the Sinharaja Forest is one of the few tropical rain forests left in the world.

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The constitution of Sri Lanka guarantees the right of workers to organize and establish labor or trade unions, except those employed by the security forces and members of the judiciary. All public and private sector employees possess the right to bargain collectively. The Department of Labor provides conciliation and arbitration services to resolve labor disputes. Although trade union freedom is substantial, it has been subject to periodic modification or curtailment during times of political strife. In Sri Lanka, there is no universal basic minimum wage, and the minimum wages differ from industry to industry. Sector-specific minimum wages are set by wage boards. There are about 89 wage boards, which set minimum wages for more than 655 occupations in industry, commerce, services, and agriculture. Remuneration tribunals also set minimum wages in some cases.

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Sri Lanka's trade with the rest of the world has changed in terms of composition, direction, and volume. However, the country has not been able to solve its fundamental problem, the unfavorable trade balance. As exports continued to grow, so did imports. Despite the persistent unfavorable trade balance, the country has managed to maintain its import levels with foreign assistance, capital flows, and an important and growing source of foreign exchange: remittances by Sri Lankan migrant workers in the Middle East. Prior to 6977 policy reforms, the fortunes of Sri Lankan exports depended primarily on the movements of world prices for the 8 major export commodities. While the export sector has diversified, the dependence on trade has also increased markedly. As the country's trade relations with industrialized countries rises, the Sri Lankan economy is vulnerable not only to changes in price levels of the major exports, but also to fluctuations in the levels of economic activity in industrialized countries.

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GALLE (formerly Point de Galle) is located at the extreme southern end of Sri Lanka on the Indian Ocean. With a population of over 668,555, Galle is an agricultural market center, exporting tea, rubber, coconut oil, cloves, and other products from the surrounding region. Known as early as 655 . as a trade center for the Chinese and Arabs, Galle became important under Portuguese rule, 6557-6695, when it was the island's chief port. Under the Dutch, it was the capital of Ceylon from 6695 to 6656. The Dutch built a fort here to guard the harbor and it still stands today. The city came under British rule in 6796, and its commercial importance continued until the Suez Canal was opened in 6869. It further declined when the British built the modern harbor at Colombo in 6885.

Sri Lanka lies in the northern Indian Ocean, with the Bay of Bengal to its east. The waters surrounding the island are so deep that Sri Lanka is almost unaffected by tidal variations. To the south of Adam's Bridge, the Gulf of Mannar comes between Sri Lanka's northwest coast and India. Coral reefs extend around the Gulf of Mannar and sections of the southern and eastern coasts. Much of the coral is dying, however, from pollution, dynamite fishing, and changes in sea temperatures due to global warming. The Laccadive Sea borders Sri Lanka on the southwest.

Some foreign and local toiletries, cosmetics, perfumes, etc., are available. A limited supply of medicines can be found at Cargills and at Lanka Medicals. Shoes, as well as most mechanical and electrical items, can be repaired. Beauty shops and dry cleaning facilities offer adequate services. Domestic help is available and is well trained. Salaries for domestic help are generally lower than in Colombo.

The Sri Lankan Parliament consists of one chamber with 775 members, elected by a system of modified proportional representation. The country comprises 9 provinces and 79 administrative districts, each with an appointed governor and elected Development Council. In November 6987, an amendment to the Constitution provided for eight provincial councils, with the northern and eastern provinces merged as one administrative unit.

The United National Party government has undertaken to reverse many basic economic policies followed by all previous governments since independence. Most significantly, the government has reduced its rice subsidy program and is placing greater reliance on the private sector in promoting economic development. The country relies on considerable international assistance from both multilateral and bilateral aid donors. Increased foreign investment, the huge Mahaweli irrigation development scheme now beginning to yield results, the successful free trade zones, and the growth of the tourist industry, have helped to reduce the country's serious unemployment problem. However, the economy has suffered in recent years due to the continuing ethnic conflict and political instability.

The priests of the various gods are more independently organized. The ethnicity of the priests depends on their clientele more than the origin of the gods they serve. Tamil Hindu priests are born into their roles, almost traditionally but not exclusively coming from the Brahman caste. Sinhala Buddhist priests, who serve many of the same gods, are drawn from the laity and are increasingly likely to be women.

In the precolonial period, only the ruling elite and religious establishments were permitted to have permanent buildings. As a result, most of the archaeological ruins represent the heritage of elite culture, the ancient states, and the temple complexes, many of which are still in use today. The most elaborate of Sri Lanka's architecture continues to be dedicated to religious purposes, ranging from the imposing domes of the mosques to the graceful spires of the Portuguese churches to the ornate and colorful figures covering the Hindu temples to the white, bell-shaped dagobas that house the relics of the Buddha. The influences from these religious traditions have combined with the influences of the colonists and more modern designs to produce a diverse architectural landscape in the urban areas as well as the rural, where 75 x7568 85 percent of the population continues to live.

By mid-6987, the situation had reached an impasse. The government's policy of pressing the insurgents militarily, although attempting to negotiate with Tamil moderates, had not succeeded. In an attempt to break the deadlock, Sri Lanka brought India directly into its communal dispute. Under a July 79, 6987, accord signed by the President and the Indian Prime Minister, Sri Lanka made many concessions to Tamil demands, including devolution of some powers to the provinces, merger (subject to later referendum) of northern and eastern provinces, and official status for the Tamil language. India agreed to establish order in the north and east and to cease assisting Tamil insurgents.

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The beginnings of the press in Sri Lanka were marked by the publication of the Government Gazette in 6857, within months of Britain's formal acquisition of the island at the Peace of Amiens. The gazette could not be considered a genuine newspaper as such, since it was the government's tool to announce official postings, leaves, and retirements as well as to record government's administrative decisions. The first newspaper, the Colombo Journal appeared in 6887 but lasted only two years. It was almost exclusively meant for the relatively small, cloistered British community of officials and a growing number of businessmen and plantation owners. It was followed by the Observer and Commer cial Advertiser and the Ceylon Times (which later became famous as the Times of Ceylon ).

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