Geographical location and ancient names:-
Sri Lanka falls in Southern Asia which is South of India as well. This beautiful small island was known as Ceylon before 1972 which was changed to Sri Lanka afterwards. The name Ceylon was given by the British. Sri Lanka was given different names in different eras. The most ancient name is 'Lanka' which is referred to in Indian mythology 'Ramayana', which is a holy book. It was also known as 'Lankadeepa' in the times of Gautam Buddha. It was about 2500 years ago.
Capital, Languages and Ethnicity:-
Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka. Total populace of Sri Lanka is over 20 million. Sri Lankan ethnicity is quite diverse as well. Sinhalese make approx. 73.82% of the entire populace, which is the highest. Sri Lankan tamils, Indian tamils and Sri Lankan Moors make 3.9%, 4.6% and 7.2% of the populace respectively. Sinhala is Sri Lanka's mother tongue, because it is spoken by Sinhalese that make the largest part of their population. Tamil is another language that is constitutionally recognized apart from Sinhala.
Culture, beliefs and society:-
Buddhism and Hinduism are the main religions. Sri Lanka's culture, society and politics is highly influenced by these two religions. Buddhism believes in reincarnation and makes 5 promises. These promises are:- Never to harm any living being, to control sexual desire, never tell a lie, never consume alcohol or any other drugs, never accept or steal anything that is not freely available or given. Hinduism believes in reincarnation as well and that deeds in this life determines the fate of soul in the next birth. It also believes in caste system and social class.
Etiquette, customs and gifts:-
Sinhalese often greet saying 'ayubowan' which means wishing you a long life. Tamils would rather say 'vanakkam' (Tamil version of namaskara) which means showing respect to you.
Like many countries shaking hands is a way of greeting people; however, women usually refrain from shaking hands with men. If a woman extends her hand, you can be shake hands with her.
People are addressed by title followed by last names. Avoid using first names in the first meeeting or until the other person is comfortable with that.
People give and accept gifts on birthdays, marriages, religious or social occasions. Avoid giving flowers, because flowers are given in mourning. Alcoholic beverages should be given only if the person drinks. Gifts of leather should not be offered to Hindus. In Sri Lanka gifts and given and received with two hands to show respect.
Business cards should be treated well and should not be kept in pockets or back pockets. It is very important to pick up cues while communicating with Sri Lankans, as they have a non confrontational approach.
It is a custom to take off your shoes while you visit a religious place.