Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country located southeast of the Republic of India and northeast of the Maldives. Its current existence is due to the merger of several empires present on the island under European colonial rule.
Sri Lanka's documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of pre-historic human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to the modern Maritime Silk Road.
Sri Lanka has a rich cultural heritage. The first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist council in 29 BC. It is also famed as being the island in the traditional Indian epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and its famed bridge's ruins can supposedly still be seen today.
Sri Lanka was known from the beginning of British colonial rule until 1972 as Ceylon.