Water scarcity is the lack of fresh water resources to meet water demand. It affects every continent and was listed in 2019 by the World Economic Forum as one of the largest global risks in terms of potential impact over the next decade, it is manifested by partial or no satisfaction of expressed demand, economic competition for water quantity or quality, disputes between users, irreversible depletion of groundwater, negative impacts on the environment. One-third of the global population live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year. Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round. Half of the world’s largest cities experience water scarcity. A mere 0.014% of all water on Earth is both fresh and accessible. Of the remaining water, 97 % is a little less than 3 % is hard to access. Technically, there is a sufficient amount of freshwater on a global scale. However, due to unequal distribution resulting in some wet and some dry geographic locations, plus a sharp rise in global freshwater demand in recent decades driven by industry, humanity is facing a water crisis.
Demand is expected to outstrip supply by 40 % in 2030. The essence of global water scarcity is the geographic and temporal mismatch between freshwater demand and availability; the increasing world population, improving living standards, changing consumption patterns, expansion of irrigated agriculture are the main driving forces for the rising global demand for water. Climate change, such as altered weather-patterns, increased pollution, green house gases, wasteful use of water can cause insufficient supply. At the global level and on an annual basis, enough freshwater is available to meet such demand, but spatial and temporal variations of water demand and availability are large, leading to water scarcity in several parts of the world during specific times of the year. All causes of water scarcity are related to human interference with the water cycle. Scarcity varies over time as a result of natural hydrological variability, but varies more so as a function of prevailing economic policy and management approaches.
Scarcity can be expected to intensify with most forms of economic development, but, if identified, many of its causes can be predicted, avoided or mitigated. Some countries have proven that decoupling water use from economic growth is possible. For example, in Australia, water consumption declined by 40% between 2001 and 2009 while the economy grew by more than 30%; the International Resource Panel of the UN states that governments have tended to invest in inefficient solutions: mega-projects like dams, aqueducts and water reservoirs, which are neither environmentally sustainable nor economically viable. The most cost-effective way of decoupling water use from economic growth, according to the scientific panel, is for governments to create holistic water management plans that take into account the entire water cycle: from source to distribution, economic use, recycling and return to the environment; the total amount of accessible freshwater on Earth, in the form of surface water or groundwater, is 14.000 cubic kilometres.
Of this total amount, ` just' 5.000 cubic kilometres are being reused by humanity. Hence, in theory, there is more than enough freshwater available to meet the demands of the current world population of more than 7 billion people, support population growth to 9 billion or more. Due to the unequal geographical distribution and the unequal consumption of water, however, it is a scarce resource in some parts of the world and for some parts of the population. Scarcity as a result of consumption is caused by the extensive use of water in agriculture/livestock breeding and industry. People in developed countries use about 10 times more water daily than those in developing countries. A large part of this is indirect use in water-intensive agricultural and industrial production processes of consumer goods, such as fruit, oil seed crops and cotton; because many of these production chains have been globalised, a lot of water in developing countries is being used and polluted in order to produce goods destined for consumption in developed countries.
Water scarcity can result from two mechanisms: physical water scarcity economic water scarcityPhysical water scarcity results from inadequate natural water resources to supply a region's demand, economic water scarcity results from poor management of the sufficient available water resources. According to the United Nations Development Programme, the latter is found more to be the cause of countries or regions experiencing water scarcity, as most countries or regions have enough water to meet household, industrial and environmental needs, but lack the means to provide it in an accessible manner. Around one fifth of the world's population live in regions affected by Physical water scarcity, where there is inadequate water resources to meet a country's or regional demand, including the water needed to fulfill the demand of ecosystems to function effectively. Arid regions suffer from physical water scarcity, it occurs where water seems abundant but where resources are over-committed, such as when there is over development of hydraulic infrastructure for irrigation.
Symptoms of physical water scarcity include environmental degradation and declining groundwater as well as other forms of exploitation or overuse. Economic water scarcity is caused by a lack of investment in
The food industry is a complex, global collective of diverse businesses that supplies most of the food consumed by the world's population. Only subsistence farmers, those who survive on what they grow, hunter-gatherers can be considered outside the scope of the modern food industry; the food Industry includes: Agriculture: raising crops and seafood Manufacturing: agrichemicals, agricultural construction, farm machinery and supplies, etc. Food processing: preparation of fresh products for market, manufacture of prepared food products Marketing: promotion of generic products, new products, marketing campaigns, public relations, etc. Wholesale and food distribution: logistics, warehousing Foodservice Grocery, farmers' markets, public markets and other retailing Regulation: local, regional and international rules and regulations for food production and sale, including food quality, food security, food safety, marketing/advertising, industry lobbying activities Education: academic, vocational Research and development: food technology Financial services: credit, insurance It is challenging to find an inclusive way to cover all aspects of food production and sale.
The UK Food Standards Agency describes it thus: "...the whole food industry – from farming and food production and distribution, to retail and catering."The Economic Research Service of the USDA uses the term food system to describe the same thing: "The U. S. food system is a complex network of the industries that link to them. Those links include makers of farm equipment and chemicals as well as firms that provide services to agribusinesses, such as providers of transportation and financial services; the system includes the food marketing industries that link farms to consumers, which include food and fiber processors, wholesalers and foodservice establishments."The term food industries covers a series of industrial activities directed at the processing, preparation and packaging of foodstuffs. The food industry today has become diversified, with manufacturing ranging from small, family-run activities that are labor intensive, to large, capital-intensive and mechanized industrial processes.
Many food industries depend entirely on local agriculture or fishing. Agriculture is the process of producing food, feeding products and other desired products by the cultivation of certain plants and the raising of domesticated animals; the practice of agriculture is known as "farming". Scientists and others devoted to improving farming methods and implements are said to be engaged in agriculture. 1 in 3 people worldwide are employed in agriculture, yet it only contributes 3% to global GDP. Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel and land reclamation. Agronomy encompasses work in the areas of plant genetics, plant physiology and soil science. Agronomy is the application of a combination of sciences. Agronomists today are involved with many issues including producing food, creating healthier food, managing environmental impact of agriculture, extracting energy from plants. Food processing includes the methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food for human consumption.
Food processing takes clean, harvested or slaughtered and butchered components and uses them to produce marketable food products. There are several different ways. One-off production: This method is used when customers make an order for something to be made to their own specifications, for example a wedding cake; the making of one-off products could take days depending on. Batch production: This method is used when the size of the market for a product is not clear, where there is a range within a product line. A certain number of the same goods will be produced to make up a batch or run, for example a bakery may bake a limited number of cupcakes; this method involves estimating consumer demand. Mass production: This method is used when there is a mass market for a large number of identical products, for example chocolate bars, ready meals and canned food; the product passes from one stage of production to another along a production line. Just-in-time: This method of production is used in restaurants.
All components of the product are available in-house and the customer chooses what they want in the product. It is prepared in a kitchen, or in front of the buyer as in sandwich delicatessens and sushi bars; the food industry has a large influence on consumerism. Organizations, such as The American Academy of Family Physicians, have been criticized for accepting monetary donations from companies within the food industry, such as Coca-Cola; these donations have been criticized for creating a conflict of interest and favoring an interest such as financial gains. Since World War II, agriculture in the United States and the entire national food system in its entirety has been characterized by models that focus on monetary profitability at the expense of social and environmental integrity. Regulations exist to protect consumers and somewhat balance this economic orientation with public interests for food quality, food security, food safety, animal well-being, environmental protection and health. A vast global cargo network connects the numerous parts of the industry.
These include suppliers, warehousers and the end consumers. Wholesale markets for fresh food products have tended to decline in importance in urbanizing countries, including Latin America and some Asian countries a
Australia the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area; the neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea and East Timor to the north. The population of 25 million is urbanised and concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, its largest city is Sydney; the country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians for about 60,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, it is documented. After the European exploration of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, who named it New Holland, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day; the population grew in subsequent decades, by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories. Being the oldest and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils, Australia has a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres. A megadiverse country, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east and mountain ranges in the south-east. A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s, its population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, remains among the lowest in the world. Australia generates its income from various sources including mining-related exports, telecommunications and manufacturing. Indigenous Australian rock art is the oldest and richest in the world, dating as far back as 60,000 years and spread across hundreds of thousands of sites. Australia is a developed country, with the world's 14th-largest economy.
It has a high-income economy, with the world's tenth-highest per capita income. It is a regional power, has the world's 13th-highest military expenditure. Australia has the world's ninth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 26% of the population. Having the third-highest human development index and the eighth-highest ranked democracy globally, the country ranks in quality of life, education, economic freedom, civil liberties and political rights, with all its major cities faring well in global comparative livability surveys. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum and the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism; the name Australia is derived from the Latin Terra Australis, a name used for a hypothetical continent in the Southern Hemisphere since ancient times. When Europeans first began visiting and mapping Australia in the 17th century, the name Terra Australis was applied to the new territories.
Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as "New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 and subsequently anglicised. Terra Australis still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts; the name Australia was popularised by the explorer Matthew Flinders, who said it was "more agreeable to the ear, an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth". The first time that Australia appears to have been used was in April 1817, when Governor Lachlan Macquarie acknowledged the receipt of Flinders' charts of Australia from Lord Bathurst. In December 1817, Macquarie recommended to the Colonial Office. In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent should be known by that name; the first official published use of the new name came with the publication in 1830 of The Australia Directory by the Hydrographic Office. Colloquial names for Australia include "Oz" and "the Land Down Under". Other epithets include "the Great Southern Land", "the Lucky Country", "the Sunburnt Country", "the Wide Brown Land".
The latter two both derive from Dorothea Mackellar's 1908 poem "My Country". Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun around 65,000 to 70,000 years ago, with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia; these first inhabitants were the ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal Australian culture is one of the oldest continual civilisations on earth. At the time of first European contact, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers with complex economies and societies. Recent archaeological finds suggest. Indigenous Australians have an oral culture with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime; the Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, obtained their livelihood from seasonal horticulture and the resources of their reefs and seas. The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited s
Urban runoff is surface runoff of rainwater created by urbanization. This runoff is a major source of water pollution in urban communities worldwide. Impervious surfaces are constructed during land development. During rain storms and other precipitation events, these surfaces, along with rooftops, carry polluted stormwater to storm drains, instead of allowing the water to percolate through soil; this causes lowering of the water table and flooding since the amount of water that remains on the surface is greater. Most municipal storm sewer systems discharge stormwater, untreated, to streams and bays; this excess water can make its way into people's properties through basement backups and seepage through building wall and floors. Urban runoff is a major cause of urban flooding, the inundation of land or property in a built-up environment caused by rainfall overwhelming the capacity of drainage systems, such as storm sewers. Triggered by events such as flash flooding, storm surges, overbank flooding, or snow melt, urban flooding is characterized by its repetitive and systemic impacts on communities, regardless of whether or not these communities are located within formally designated floodplains or near any body of water.
There are several ways in which stormwater enters properties: backup through sewer pipes and sinks into buildings. Where properties are built with basements, urban flooding is the primary cause of basement flooding. Flood flows in urban environments have been investigated recently despite many centuries of flood events; some researchers mentioned the storage effect in urban areas. Several studies looked into the flow patterns and redistribution in streets during storm events and the implication in terms of flood modelling; some recent research considered the criteria for safe evacuation of individuals in flooded areas. But some recent field measurements during the 2010–2011 Queensland floods showed that any criterion based upon the flow velocity, water depth or specific momentum cannot account for the hazards caused by the velocity and water depth fluctuations; these considerations ignore further the risks associated with large debris entrained by the flow motion. Water running off these impervious surfaces tends to pick up gasoline, motor oil, heavy metals and other pollutants from roadways and parking lots, as well as fertilizers and pesticides from lawns.
Roads and parking lots are major sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are created as combustion byproducts of gasoline and other fossil fuels, as well as of the heavy metals nickel, zinc and lead. Roof runoff contributes high levels of zinc. Fertilizer use on residential lawns and golf courses is a measurable source of nitrates and phosphorus in urban runoff when fertilizer is improperly applied or when turf is over-fertilized. Eroding soils or poorly maintained construction sites can lead to increased sedimentation in runoff. Sedimentation settles to the bottom of water bodies and can directly affect water quality. Excessive levels of sediment in water bodies can increase the risk of infection and disease through high levels of nutrients present in the soil; these high levels of nutrients can reduce oxygen and boost algae growth while limiting native vegetation growth. Limited native vegetation and excessive algae has the potential to disrupt the entire aquatic ecosystem due to limited light penetration, lower oxygen levels, reduced food reserves.
Excessive levels of sediment and suspended solids have the potential to damage existing infrastructure as well. Sedimentation can increase runoff by plugging underground injection systems, thereby increasing the amount of runoff on the surface. Increased sedimentation levels can reduce storage behind reservoirs; this reduction of reservoir capacities can lead to increased expenses for public land agencies while impacting the quality of water recreational areas. Runoff can induce heavy metal poisoning in ocean life. Small amounts of heavy metals are carried by runoff into the oceans; these metals are ingested by ocean life. These heavy metals can not be disposed. Over time, these metals build up to a toxic level, the animal dies; this heavy metal poisoning can affect humans. If we eat a poisoned animal, we have a chance of getting heavy metal poisoning too; as stormwater is channeled into storm drains and surface waters, the natural sediment load discharged to receiving waters decreases, but the water flow and velocity increases.
In fact, the impervious cover in a typical city creates five times the runoff of a typical woodland of the same size. A 2008 report by the United States National Research Council identified urban runoff as a leading source of water quality problems....further declines in water quality remain if the land-use changes that typify more diffuse sources of pollution are not addressed... These include land-disturbing agricultural, urban and construction activities from which hard-to-monitor pollutants emerge during wet-weather events. Pollution from these landscapes has been universally acknowledged as the most pressing challenge to the restoration of waterbodies and aquatic ecosystems nationwide. – National Research Council, Urban Stormwater Management in the United States The runoff increases temperatures in streams, harming fish and other orga
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects. It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association; the World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group. The World Bank's most recent stated goal is the reduction of poverty; as of November 2018, the largest recipients of world bank loans were India and China, through loans from IBRD. The World Bank is different from the World Bank Group, an extended family of five international organizations: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development International Development Association International Finance Corporation Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes The World Bank was created at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference along with the International Monetary Fund; the president of the World Bank is, traditionally, an American. The World Bank and the IMF are both based in Washington, D.
C. and work with each other. Although many countries were represented at the Bretton Woods Conference, the United States and United Kingdom were the most powerful in attendance and dominated the negotiations; the intention behind the founding of the World Bank was to provide temporary loans to low-income countries which were unable to obtain loans commercially. The Bank may make loans and demand policy reforms from recipients. Before 1974, the reconstruction and development loans provided by the World Bank were small; the Bank's staff were aware of the need to instill confidence in the bank. Fiscal conservatism ruled, loan applications had to meet strict criteria; the first country to receive a World Bank loan was France. The Bank's president at the time, John McCloy, chose France over two other applicants and Chile; the loan was for US$250 million, half the amount requested, it came with strict conditions. France had to agree to produce a balanced budget and give priority of debt repayment to the World Bank over other governments.
World Bank staff monitored the use of the funds to ensure that the French government met the conditions. In addition, before the loan was approved, the United States State Department told the French government that its members associated with the Communist Party would first have to be removed; the French government complied and removed the Communist coalition government - the so-called tripartite. Within hours, the loan to France was approved; when the Marshall Plan went into effect in 1947, many European countries began receiving aid from other sources. Faced with this competition, the World Bank shifted its focus to non-European countries; until 1968, its loans were earmarked for the construction of infrastructure works, such as seaports, highway systems, power plants, that would generate enough income to enable a borrower country to repay the loan. In 1960, the International Development Association was formed, providing soft loans to developing countries. From 1974 to 1980 the bank concentrated on meeting the basic needs of people in the developing world.
The size and number of loans to borrowers was increased as loan targets expanded from infrastructure into social services and other sectors. These changes can be attributed to Robert McNamara, appointed to the presidency in 1968 by Lyndon B. Johnson. McNamara implored bank treasurer Eugene Rotberg to seek out new sources of capital outside of the northern banks, the primary sources of funding. Rotberg used the global bond market to increase the capital available to the bank. One consequence of the period of poverty alleviation lending was the rapid rise of third world debt. From 1976 to 1980 developing world debt rose at an average annual rate of 20%. In 1980 the World Bank Administrative Tribunal was established to decide on disputes between the World Bank Group and its staff where allegation of non-observance of contracts of employment or terms of appointment had not been honored. In 1980 McNamara was succeeded by Alden W. Clausen. Clausen crafted a different mission emphasis, his 1982 decision to replace the bank's Chief Economist, Hollis B.
Chenery, with Anne Krueger was an example of this new focus. Krueger was known for her criticism of development funding and for describing Third World governments as "rent-seeking states". During the 1980s the bank emphasized lending to service Third-World debt, structural adjustment policies designed to streamline the economies of developing nations. UNICEF reported in the late 1980s that the structural adjustment programs of the World Bank had been responsible for "reduced health and educational levels for tens of millions of children in Asia, Latin America, Africa". Beginning in 1989, in response to harsh criticism from many groups, the bank began including environmental groups and NGOs in its loans to mitigate the past effects of its development policies that had prompted the criticism, it formed an implementing agency, in accordance with the Montreal Protocols, to stop ozone-depletion damage to the Earth's atmosphere by phasing out the use of 95% of ozone-depleting chemicals, with a target date of 2015.
Since in accordance with its so-called "Six Strategic Themes", the bank has put various additional policies into effect to preserve the environment while promoting development. For example, in 1991 the bank announced that to protect against deforestation in the Amazon, it would not finance any commercial logging or infrastructure projects that harm the en
An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy is incorporated into plant tissue. By feeding on plants and on one-another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system, they influence the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present. By breaking down dead organic matter, decomposers release carbon back to the atmosphere and facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be used by plants and other microbes. Ecosystems are controlled by internal factors. External factors such as climate, the parent material which forms the soil and topography, control the overall structure of an ecosystem, but are not themselves influenced by the ecosystem. Ecosystems are dynamic entities—they are subject to periodic disturbances and are in the process of recovering from some past disturbance.
Ecosystems in similar environments that are located in different parts of the world can end up doing things differently because they have different pools of species present. Internal factors not only control ecosystem processes but are controlled by them and are subject to feedback loops. Resource inputs are controlled by external processes like climate and parent material. Resource availability within the ecosystem is controlled by internal factors like decomposition, root competition or shading. Although humans operate within ecosystems, their cumulative effects are large enough to influence external factors like climate. Biodiversity affects ecosystem functioning, as do the processes of disturbance and succession. Ecosystems provide a variety of services upon which people depend; the term ecosystem was first used in 1935 in a publication by British ecologist Arthur Tansley. Tansley devised the concept to draw attention to the importance of transfers of materials between organisms and their environment.
He refined the term, describing it as "The whole system... including not only the organism-complex, but the whole complex of physical factors forming what we call the environment". Tansley regarded ecosystems not as natural units, but as "mental isolates". Tansley defined the spatial extent of ecosystems using the term ecotope. G. Evelyn Hutchinson, a limnologist, a contemporary of Tansley's, combined Charles Elton's ideas about trophic ecology with those of Russian geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky; as a result, he suggested. This would, in turn, limit the abundance of animals. Raymond Lindeman took these ideas further to suggest that the flow of energy through a lake was the primary driver of the ecosystem. Hutchinson's students, brothers Howard T. Odum and Eugene P. Odum, further developed a "systems approach" to the study of ecosystems; this allowed them to study the flow of material through ecological systems. Ecosystems are controlled both by internal factors. External factors called state factors, control the overall structure of an ecosystem and the way things work within it, but are not themselves influenced by the ecosystem.
The most important of these is climate. Climate determines the biome. Rainfall patterns and seasonal temperatures influence photosynthesis and thereby determine the amount of water and energy available to the ecosystem. Parent material determines the nature of the soil in an ecosystem, influences the supply of mineral nutrients. Topography controls ecosystem processes by affecting things like microclimate, soil development and the movement of water through a system. For example, ecosystems can be quite different if situated in a small depression on the landscape, versus one present on an adjacent steep hillside. Other external factors that play an important role in ecosystem functioning include time and potential biota; the set of organisms that can be present in an area can significantly affect ecosystems. Ecosystems in similar environments that are located in different parts of the world can end up doing things differently because they have different pools of species present; the introduction of non-native species can cause substantial shifts in ecosystem function.
Unlike external factors, internal factors in ecosystems not only control ecosystem processes but are controlled by them. They are subject to feedback loops. While the resource inputs are controlled by external processes like climate and parent material, the availability of these resources within the ecosystem is controlled by internal factors like decomposition, root competition or shading. Other factors like disturbance, succession or the types of species present are internal factors. Primary production is the production of organic matter from inorganic carbon sources; this occurs through photosynthesis. The energy incorporated through this process supports life on earth, while the carbon makes up much of the organic matter in living and dead biomass, soil carbon and fossil fuels, it drives the carbon cycle, which influences global climate via the greenhouse effect. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants capture energy from light and use it to combine carbon dioxide and water to produce carbohydrates and oxygen.
The photosynthesis carried out by all the plants in an ecosystem is called the gross primary production. About half of the GPP is consumed in plant respiration; the remainder, that portion of GPP, not used up by respirati
Sri Lanka the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait; the legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo. Sri Lanka's documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of pre-historic human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years, it has a rich cultural heritage and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist council in 29 BC. 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 was known from the beginning of British colonial rule as Ceylon. A nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century to obtain political independence, granted in 1948.
Sri Lanka's recent history has been marred by a 26-year civil war, which decisively ended when the Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. The current constitution stipulates the political system as a republic and a unitary state governed by a semi-presidential system, it has had a long history of international engagement, as a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77, the Non-Aligned Movement. Along with the Maldives, Sri Lanka is one of only two South Asian countries rated "high" on the Human Development Index, with its HDI rating and per capita income the highest among South Asian nations; the Sri Lankan constitution accords Buddhism the "foremost place", although it does not identify it as a state religion. Buddhism is given special privileges in the Sri Lankan constitution; the island is home to many cultures and ethnicities. The majority of the population is from the Sinhalese ethnicity, while a large minority of Tamils have played an influential role in the island's history.
Moors, Malays and the indigenous Vedda are established groups on the island. In antiquity, Sri Lanka was known to travellers by a variety of names. According to the Mahavamsa, the legendary Prince Vijaya named the land Tambapanni, because his followers' hands were reddened by the red soil of the area. In Hindu mythology, such as the Ramayana, the island was referred to as Lankā; the Tamil term Eelam, was used to designate the whole island in Sangam literature. The island was known under Chola rule as Mummudi Cholamandalam. Ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobanē from the word Tambapanni; the Persians and Arabs referred to it as Sarandīb from Cerentivu or Siṃhaladvīpaḥ. Ceilão, the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese Empire when it arrived in 1505, was transliterated into English as Ceylon; as a British crown colony, the island was known as Ceylon. The country is now known in Sinhala in Tamil as Ilaṅkai. In 1972, its formal name was changed to "Free and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka".
In 1978 it was changed to the "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka". As the name Ceylon still appears in the names of a number of organisations, the Sri Lankan government announced in 2011 a plan to rename all those over which it has authority; the pre-history of Sri Lanka goes back 125,000 years and even as far back as 500,000 years. The era spans the Palaeolithic and early Iron Ages. Among the Paleolithic human settlements discovered in Sri Lanka, which dates back to 37,000 BP, Batadombalena and Belilena are the most important. In these caves, archaeologists have found the remains of anatomically modern humans which they have named Balangoda Man, other evidence suggesting that they may have engaged in agriculture and kept domestic dogs for driving game. One of the first written references to the island is found in the Indian epic Ramayana, which provides details of a kingdom named Lanka, created by the divine sculptor Vishwakarma for Kubera, the Lord of Wealth, it is said that Kubera was overthrown by his demon stepbrother Ravana, the powerful emperor who built a mythical flying machine named Dandu Monara.
The modern city of Wariyapola is described as Ravana's airport. Early inhabitants of Sri Lanka were ancestors of the Vedda people, an indigenous people numbering 2,500 living in modern-day Sri Lanka; the 19th-century Irish historian James Emerson Tennent theorized that Galle, a city in southern Sri Lanka, was the ancient seaport of Tarshish from which King Solomon is said to have drawn ivory and other valuables. According to the Mahāvamsa, a chronicle written in Pāḷi, the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka are the Yakshas and Nagas. Ancient cemeteries that were used before 600 BC and other signs of advanced civilisation have been discovered in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese history traditionally starts in 543 BC with the arrival of Prince Vijaya, a semi-legendary prince who sailed with 700 followers to Sri Lanka, after being expelled from Vanga Kingdom (present-day Ben