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CEYLON


of its trees. It grows in vast abundance alone the entire sea-coast of the west and south sides of the island, and furnishes almost all that a Sinhalese villager requires. Its fruit, when green, supplies food and drink; when ripe, it yields oil. The juice of the unopened flower gives him toddy and arrack. The fibrous casing of the fruit when woven makes him ropes, nets, matting. The nut-shells form drinking-vessels, spoons, &c. The plaited leaves serve as plates and dishes, and as thatch for his cottage. The dried leaves are used as torches, the large leaf-stalks as garden fences. The trunk of the tree sawn up is employed for every possible purpose, from knife-handles to door-posts; hollowed out it forms a canoe or a coffin. There are four kinds of this palm—the common, the king, the dwarf and the Maldive. The Palmyra and Areca palms grow luxuriantly and abundantly, the former in the northern, the latter in the western and central districts. The one is valuable chiefly for its timber, of which large quantities are exported to the Indian coasts; the other supplies the betel-nut in common use amongst natives of the eastern tropics as a masticatory. The export trade in the latter to India and eastern ports is very considerable. Next in importance to the coco-nut palm among the indigenous products of Ceylon is the cinnamon plant, yielding the well-known spice of that name.

Fauna.—Foremost among the animals of Ceylon is the elephant, which, though far inferior to those of Africa and the Indian continent, is nevertheless of considerable value when tamed, on account of its strength, sagacity and docility. They are to be met with in greater or less numbers throughout most unfrequented parts of the interior. Occasionally they make inroads in herds upon the cultivated grounds and plantations, committing great damage. In order to protect these lands, and at the same time keep up the government stud of draught elephants, “kraals” or traps on a large scale are erected in the forests, into which the wild herds are driven; and once secured they are soon tamed and fit for service. The oxen are of small size, but hardy, and capable of drawing heavy loads. Buffaloes exist in great numbers throughout the interior, where they are employed in a half-tame state for ploughing rice-fields and treading out the corn. They feed upon any coarse grass, and can therefore be maintained on the village pasture-lands where oxen would not find support. Of deer, Ceylon possesses the spotted kind (Axis maculata), the muntjac (Stylocerus muntjac), a red deer (the Sambur of India), popularly called the Ceylon elk (Musa Aristotelis), and the small musk (Moschus minima). There are five species of monkeys, one the small rilawa (Macacus pileatus), and four known in Ceylon by the name of “wandaru” (Presbytes ursinus, P. Thersites, P. cephalopterus, P. Priamus), and the small quadrumanous animal, the loris (Loris gracilis), known as the “Ceylon sloth.” Of the Cheiroptera sixteen species have been identified; amongst them is the rousette or flying fox (Pteropus Edwardsii). Of the Carnivora the only one dangerous to man is the small black bear (Prochilus labiatus). The tiger is not known in Ceylon, but the true panther (Felis pardus) is common, as is the jackal (Canis aureus) and the mongoose or ichneumon (Herpestes vitticollis). Rats are numerous, as are the squirrel and the porcupine, and the pig-rat or bandicoot (Mus bandicota), while the scaly ant-eater (Manis pentedactyla), locally known by the Malay name of pangolin, is occasionally found. The dugong (Halicore dugong), is frequently seen on various points of the coast. A game preservation society and the judicious action of government have done much to prevent the wanton destruction of Ceylon deer, elephants, &c., by establishing a close season. It is estimated that there must be 5000 wild elephants in the Ceylon forests. A licence to shoot or capture and an export royalty are now levied by government.

Captain V. Legge includes 371 species of birds in Ceylon, and many of them have splendid plumage, but in this respect they are surpassed by the birds of South America and Northern India. The eagles are small and rare, but hawks and owls are numerous; among the latter is a remarkable brown species, the cry of which has earned for it the name of the “devil-bird.” The esculent swift, which furnishes in its edible nest the celebrated Chinese dainty, builds in caves in Ceylon. Crows of various species are numerous, and in the wilder parts pea-fowl are abundant. There are also to be mentioned king-fishers, sun-birds, several beautiful fly-catchers and snatchers, the golden oriole, parroquets and numerous pigeons, of which there are at least a dozen species. The Ceylon jungle-fowl (Gallus Lafayetti) is distinct from the Indian species. Ceylon is singularly rich in wading and water birds—ibises, storks, egrets, spoonbills and herons being frequently seen on the wet sands, while flamingoes line the beach in long files, and on the deeper waters inland are found teal and a countless variety of ducks and smaller fowl. Of the birds familiar to European sportsmen there are partridge, quail and snipe in abundance, and the woodcock has been seen.

The poisonous snakes of Ceylon are not numerous. Four species have been enumerated—the ticpolonga (Daboia elegans), the cobra di capello (Naja tripudians), the carawilla (Trigonocephalus hypnale), and the Trigonocephalus nigromarginatus, which is so rare that it has no popular name. The largest snake in Ceylon is the “boa,” or “anaconda” of Eastern story (Python reticulatus); it is from 20 to 30 ft. in length, and preys on hog-deer and other smaller animals. Crocodiles infest the rivers and estuaries, and the large fresh-water reservoirs which supply the rice-fields; there are two species (C. biporcatus and C. palustris). Of lizards the most noteworthy are the iguana, several bloodsuckers, the chameleon and the familiar geckoes, which are furnished with pads to each toe, by which they are enabled to ascend perpendicular walls and adhere to glass and ceilings.

Insects exist in great numbers. The leaf and stick insects are of great variety and beauty. Ceylon has four species of the ant-lion, renowned for the predaceous ingenuity of its larvae; and the white ants or termites, the ravages of which are most destructive, are at once ubiquitous and innumerable in every place where the climate is not too chilly or the soil too sandy for them to construct their domed dwellings. They make their way through walls and floors, and in a few hours destroy every vegetable substance within their reach. Of all the insect pests that beset an unseasoned European the most annoying are the mosquitoes. Ticks are also an intolerable nuisance; they are exceedingly minute, and burrow under the skin. In the lower ranges of the hill country land leeches are found in tormenting profusion. But insects and reptiles do not trouble European residents so much as in early years—at any rate in the towns, while in the higher planting districts there is almost complete exemption from their unwelcome attentions. Bungalows are more carefully built to resist white ants, drainage and cleanliness prevent mosquitoes and ticks from multiplying, while snakes and leeches avoid cultivated, occupied ground.

Of the fish in ordinary use for the table the finest is the seir, a species of scomber (Cybium guttatum). Mackerel, dories, carp, whitings, mullet (red and striped), soles and sardines are abundant. Sharks appear on all parts of the coast, and the huge saw fish (Pristis antiquorum) infests the eastern coast of the island, where it attains a length of 12 to 15 ft. There are also several fishes remarkable for the brilliancy of their colouring; e.g. the Red Sea perch (Holocentrum rubrum), of the deepest scarlet, and the great fire fish (Scorpaena miles), of a brilliant red. Some are purple, others yellow, and numbers with scales of a lustrous green are called “parrots” by the natives; of these one (Sparus Hardwickii) is called the “flower parrot,” from its exquisite colouring—irregular bands of blue, crimson and purple, green, yellow and grey, crossed by perpendicular stripes of black. The pearl fishery, as indicated below, is of great importance.

Population.—The total population of Ceylon in 1901, inclusive of military, shipping and 4914 prisoners of war, was 3,578,333, showing an increase of 18.8% in the decade. The population of Colombo was 158,228.

The population and area of the nine provinces was as follows:—

District. Population. Area in
sq. m.
Western Province 925,342 1,432
Central Province 623,011 2,299½
Northern Province 341,985 3,363¼
Southern Province 566,925 2,146¼
Eastern Province 174,288 4,036½
North-Western Province 353,845 2,99678
North Central Province 79,110 4,002¼
Province of Uva 192,072 3,154½
Province of Sabaragamuwa 321,755 1,90118
  3,578,333 25,332

The table of nationality gives the principal groups as follows:—

Europeans 9,509
Burghers and Eurasians  23,539
Low-country Sinhalese 1,458,320
Kandyan Sinhalese 872,487
Tamils 953,535
Moors (Mahommedan) 228,706
Malays 11,963
Veddahs (Aborigines) 3,971

Altogether there are representatives of some seventy races in Ceylon. The Veddahs, who run wild in the woods, are the aborigines of the island.

Language.—The language of nearly 70% of the population is Sinhalese, which is nearly allied to Pali (q.v.); of the remaining 30%, with the exception of Europeans, the language is Tamil. A corrupt form of Portuguese is spoken by some natives of European descent. The Veddahs, a small forest tribe, speak a distinct language, and the Rodiyas, an outcast tribe, possess a large vocabulary of their own. The Sinhalese possess several original poems of some merit, and an extensive and most interesting series of native chronicles, but their most valuable literature is written in Pali, though the greater portion of it has been translated into Sinhalese, and is best known to the people through these Sinhalese translations.

Religion.—The principal religions may be distributed as follows:—Christians, 349,239; Buddhists, 2,141,404; Hindus, 826,826; Mahommedans, 246,118. Of the Christians, 287,419 are Roman Catholics, and 61,820 are Protestants of various denominations; and of these Christians 319,001 are natives, and 30,238 Europeans. The Mahommedans are the descendants of Arabs (locally termed Moormen) and the Malays. The Tamils, both the inhabitants of the island and the immigrants from India, are Hindus, with the exception of 93,000 Christians. The Sinhalese, numbering 70% of the whole