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Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is one of the world's most exotic and beautiful islands – with ancient cities, thick jungle, miles of palm-fringed beaches, a unique culture and warm friendly people.

Though often simply considered India's tropical sister, Sri Lanka has a fascinating culture and history all its own. Long known as Ceylon, it was a British crown colony until 1948 and officially became Sri Lanka in 1972. Unlike in India, the majority of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, and their devotion to the religion has resulted in numerous beautiful landmarks around the country. Marco Polo was so impressed with Sri Lanka that he declared it the most beautiful island of its size in the world, and most visitors tend to agree.

Sri Lanka offers many archaeological, cultural and scenic highlights including the ancient sites of the ‘cultural triangle’, the tropical interior, the beautiful hill station of Kandy and the picturesque ‘tea country’. As well as exploring Colombo, other key areas to visit include the elephant orphanage in Pinnewala, the rock fortress at Sigiriya and the small fishing hamlet of Ahungalla. Horton Plains and Yala National Park offer great opportunities to search for wildlife including monkey, sambar, elephant and sloth bear. At the end of your exploration you may choose to unwind on one of Sri Lanka’s idyllic tropical beaches before returning home.
Fasts & Figures

Location: Southern Asia
Area of Sri Lanka: 65,610 sq km
Sri Lankan Population: 20.2 million
Sri Lankan Capital: Colombo
Population in Colombo: 2.4 million
Major Sri Lankan Cities: Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura and Galle.
Bordering Countries: 0 km
Sri Lankan Government: Republic
Language: Sinhala 74% (official and national), Tamil 18% (national), other 8%; English is commonly used in government and spoken competently by about 10%
Religion: Buddhist 70%, Islam 8%, Hindu 7%, Christian 6%.
Electricty: 230 V AC, 50 Hz
Time zone: Sri Lanka is on Sri Lanka Standard Time, ten and a half hours ahead of U.S. EST. When it is 6am in New York, it is 4:30pm in Colombo.
Interesting Facts

  • The official name of Sri Lanka is ‘The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka’.
  • Sri Lanka is often known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’.
  • The ‘Na Tree’, botanically known as ‘Mesua Nagassarium’ is the National Tree of Sri Lanka.
  • The National Flower of Sri Lanka is ‘Nil Mahanel’, botanically known as ‘Nympheae Stellata’.
  • UNDP and UNICEF rate Sri Lanka as one of the best among developing countries, on the Human Development Index.
  • There are eleven universities in Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon before 1972.The highest point in Sri Lanka is Pidurutalagala (2,524 m).
  • Buddhism arrived in Sri Lanka in 3rd century BC.
  • Sri Lanka finds a mention in the great Indian epic Ramayana, which was, written around 500 BC.
  • Initially, Sri Lanka comprised of Veddha people. Sinhalese and Tamils migrated to the country, from India, between 500 and 300 BC.
  • Tea was introduced to the Sri Lanka in 1867, while rubber was brought here in 1876.
  • Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) became the first female Prime Minister of the world in 1960.
  • Sri Lanka has an elephant orphanage and every year, it serves as the venue of an elephant pageant.
  • The spice cinnamon originated in Sri Lanka and was discovered by the Egyptians.
  • Sri Lanka is amongst the leading exporters of tea in the world.
  • The national flag of Sri Lanka, the Lion Flag, is considered to be one of the oldest flags in the world.
Quotes on Sri Lanka

ARTHUR C. CLARK, a British science fiction author, inventor and futurist:
The Island of Sri Lanka is a small universe, it contains as many variations of culture, scenery and climate as some countries a dozen times its size. I find it hard to believe that there is any country which scores so highly in all departments which have so many advantages and so few disadvantages. Lovely beaches, beautiful landscapes, impressive ruins, a vibrant culture and charming people – No wonder Sri Lanka is a small miracle.

JOSEPH PULITZER, a Hungarian-American newspaper publisher:
Put it before them so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and above all accurately so they will be guided by its light.