Civil war broke out in 1983, killing tens of thousands over the following 25 years and creating large numbers of refugees. In the 1990's, the capital Colombo witnessed many devastating suicide bombings by anti-government Tamil rebels.
The war came to an abrupt and violent end in the north-east of the country in 2009, when government forces defeated Tamil rebel remnants and killed their leader.
Sri Lanka's suffering was compounded by the Indian Ocean tsunami of Boxing Day 2004, which devastated the eastern coast and killed over 30,000 people.
Blighted by war, Sri Lanka's important tourist industry has peaked during more peaceful times. A potentially diverse economy also ranges from food processing, clothing and textiles, through to newer service industries including telecommunications and finance.
Christians in Sri Lanka
With Buddhism the state religion and Hinduism also strong, Christianity in Sri Lanka has often been regarded as having been imported and imposed during European rule.
The Catholic church is the largest numerically. Various Protestant Christian denominations, including evangelical and pentecostal, are now well represented in Sri Lanka.
Many humble missionary works, and the training and raising up of gifted Sri Lankan Christian leaders, has led to a growth of the church, especially during the worst years of the civil war. Despite the strong sentiment in their cultures against proselytism and conversion, many Buddhist and Hindu people have nevertheless heard about and accepted Christ.
Pray for a geographical spread as well as numerical growth of believers, as traditionally by far the greatest concentration of Christians in Sri Lanka has been in Colombo and its surrounds, and Jaffna.