by Xinhua writer Yang Dingdu
BEIJING, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Sometimes people call the island nation of Sri Lanka a teardrop on the Indian Ocean for its shape. It looks even more like a teardrop on these saddening days when the island and the world over mourn the many people killed in a string of explosions on Sunday.
Sorrow may shroud the island for the moment, but the Sri Lankans do not believe in tears. They love smiling and their country is known in the world as "the land of smiles." No act of terror, no matter how heinous and condemnable, can change it.
On the streets of Colombo, the capital city, it is evident how open and big-hearted the Sri Lankans are. In the Gangaramaya Temple, foreigners mingle with locals, paying tribute to Western gods, legendary Chinese warriors, Indian deities as well as sacred trees. At the Independence Square, signature lion statues wear cute smiles.
For millenniums, Sri Lanka has been open to the world. Throughout history, it has served as a trading hub where people from different parts of the world, regardless of their culture and religion, meet, do business and befriend each other. Chinese historian Ban Gu wrote some 2,000 years ago about its prosperous harbors. Marco Polo took note of the island's good-natured people and precious stones in his famed travel book.
In the more recent past, the Sri Lankans had to learn a hard lesson from some 20 years of war against separatists in the north. Violence stifles growth. By the time the war ended in 2009, Sri Lanka lost its leading position in logistics and development in South Asia.
Ever since, the country has been trying to make up for the years lost in war. It has maintained peace and actively participated in global initiatives to boost connectivity and trade, which has in turn lifted the ranking of Sri Lanka's ports and brought momentum to the country's economic growth.
Visit Sri Lanka and one will see why it is "the land of smiles." On the central mountains, refreshing breezes drift through endless stretches of tea bushes. Along the coastal ring, the emerald Indian Ocean sings an eternal rhythmic lullaby, bringing peace of mind to the people on this blessed island.
In the war against terror, peace and smile will prevail in Sri Lanka.