Sri Lanka

You must know that when the air is sweet with the scent of the cinnamon and the sky shows to you as the most magnificent of the seas, you have reached your destination. You don’t know what little wonder is waiting for opportunities in this country.

Sri Lanka is a country to be explored through their people’s contact. With a history of over two thousand years, all the vicissitudes that nature has raised without sacrificing its own identity and traditions have been patiently and wisdomfully embraced by Singhalese people.

The Gems Island hangs like a brilliant emerald, though there are diamonds in its rivers and the pearls in its valleys.
Sri Lanka is a country of endless smiles, perhaps because of the quality that accompanies its daily life: fishermen in stilts along the southern coast, young couples walking around the walls of the 17th century Dutch fort, kids enjoying a hot curry, exuberant Singhalese alphabet whirlpools, Buddhist multicolored flags, captivating beach sunsets, fruits and spices. It’s an endless party for the traveler.

Location

Sri Lanka’s island is situated in the Indian Ocean, near the Indian’s southern tip, southwest of Bengal Bay. The Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait distinguish it from the Indian subcontinent.

The island is 700 km distance approximately from the Maldivian islands. According to Hindu mythology, a land bridge linked the Indian mainland, known as Rama’s Bridge, was constructed during the time of Rama by the vanara architect Nala. Because of its location and importance the island, had been known by various names in the past such as “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, “Serendib”, “Taprobane” “Sea Land” & “Ceylon”.

In 1972 the traditional name “Sri Lanka” came into use.

Geography

6 – 10 North Latitude
80 – 82 East Latitude
Maximum Length – 432 Km
Maximum Breadth – 224 Km
Land Area – 65,610 Sq. Km

Climate

Sri Lanka is situated about 6° north of the equator. Therefore its tropical temperature varies around 26 °C – 32 °C at sea level and
in the central hills it ranges from 9 °C – 22 °C through the year. Rain falls are experienced during two monsoons: south-west monsoon which begins from May to September and the north–east monsoon from December to February. Atmosphere is fresher by the currents of Indian ocean, and one can travel to Sri Lanka throughout all year, without any problem, but the best season is between November and April, with a beautiful blue sky and calm enough sea.

Population

The population of the country is about 20 million, having the capital city Colombo and adjoining western region house the highest density.

Ethnic Consistency

The multi-ethnic Sri Lankan society consists of Sinhalese who account for more that 83% of the population, Tamils with more than 8% of the share, and other minority clans including Muslims, Burghers and Vedda.

The ethnic heritage of Sri Lankan people is characterized by two main aspects – language and religion. The Buddhism is followed by the majority while Tamils are predominantly Hindúes (7,1 %), and Christians (6,2 %), Muslims (7,6 %), are practiced by the others.

Languages

Sinhala & Tamil are the official and national language. Sinhala is an Indo–Arya language which is derived from an ancient language called “Sanskrit”. English is called a link language and is spoken widely throughout the country except the most rural areas.

Time

Sri Lanka’s standard time is +5.30 hours from Greenwich Mean Time.

Business & Trade

Sri Lanka had been known as a hot-spot in business & trade of South East Asia from the past. In the early days spices & gems were sold mainly. Chronicles say that for Julius Caesar’s army, elephants were taken from here. Today the main exports are tea, rubber spices, gems & jewelleries and garments.

Culture & Tradition

Many historic inherited traditions are still followed by the locals up to this date. Holidays and festivals in Sri Lanka are an essential part of culture. The Sinhalese and Hindus celebrate their new year in mid-April. On the full moon day of every month, the Buddhists spiritually observe a Poya Day.

Kandyan tradition is one such dominant tradition which is still alive in all its glory. Every July or August, thousands of Sri Lankans travel to the hill city of Kandy to watch dancers, acrobats, drummers, whip crackers, flame throwers and more than 100 elegantly decorated elephants parade through the streets during Esala Perahera. This is a 10-day festival in honor of to the country’s most prized possession, the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.

Gastronomy

Due to its proximity to South India, the cuisine of Sri Lanka shows some influence, yet is in many ways quite distinct.

If hot and spicy flavours get your appetite roaring, Sri Lanka is the place to be. The Sri Lankan staple dish is rice with curry, which could be made with vegetables, meat or fish. Most signature dishes of the island are concocted using coconut milk as a base, which makes the consistency richer and bestows that characteristic flavour.

Sri Lanka’s tea plantations are not only a bewitching spectacle, but also amongst the top producers of tea in the world. Some local alcoholic brews are Toddy and Arrack made from palm fruit.

A word of caution to the uninitiated: “sambols” are fiendishly hot and could leave you with a red face.

Sri Lanka has long been renowned for its spices. In the 15th and 16the centuries, traders from all over the world came in search of fragrant and aromatic cardamoms, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Currency

The unit of currency is the Sri Lanka Rupee (LKR), which is divided into 100 cents. Major credit cards are widely accepted, and travellers cheques in US Dollars are recommended. ATMs are becoming more common, but outside the main cities they are unlikely to accept international cards.

Coins and notes are divided into the following denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents, and 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupees.

Exchange rate

– 1 €: about 205 (LKR)
– $ 1: about 180 (LKR)
– 1 pound: about 232 (LKR)

By daily living standards, Sri Lanka is a very cheap country:

– Bottled water (big bottle): 50 LKR
– Vegetarian curry and rice: 230 (LKR).
– Fresh coconut:40 LKR

• Tips: in restaurant, taxi and hotels is added in the service account 10%.

Adaptors

Sri Lanka uses a range of sockets, so your full range of travel adaptors may come in useful.

Passports & Visas

Visitors must apply for the Electronic Travel Authorization via www.eta.gov.lk established in the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

This beautiful land is blessed with a slew of sites, which have immense historical and archaeological significance. As declared by UNESCO, presently there are 8 World Heritage Sites:

1. Ancient and Sacred City of Anuradhapura
2. Golden Temple of Dambulla
3. Sacred City of Kandy
4. Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
5. Ancient City of Sigiriya
6. Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications
7. Sinharaja Forest Reserve
8. Central Highlands of Sri Lanka 

The ruins of one of the ancient world’s greatest civilizations await for you…