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Sri Lanka travel guide - Travel S helper

Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka, formally the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (previously Ceylon), is a South Asian island nation near south-east India. Sri Lanka has marine boundaries with both India and the Maldives to the northwest and southwest, respectively.

The recorded history of Sri Lanka spans 3,000 years, with evidence of prehistoric human habitation going back at least 125,000 years. From the period of the old Silk Road until World War II, its geographic position and deep harbors rendered it of tremendous strategic significance. From the commencement of British colonial authority until 1972, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon. Sri Lanka’s recent history has been plagued by a thirty-year civil war that was finally ended in 2009 when the Sri Lankan military defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Sri Lanka is a varied and cosmopolitan nation with various faiths, ethnic groups, and languages. It is home to a significant number of Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils, Moors, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs, and the aboriginal Vedda, in addition to the majority Sinhalese. Sri Lanka has a significant Buddhist history, with the Pli Canon, the earliest known Buddhist texts of Sri Lanka, dating back to the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BC.

Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state with a semi-presidential government. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital, is a suburb of Colombo, the commercial capital and biggest metropolis.

Sri Lanka has a long history of international involvement, having founded the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and being a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Group of 77, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Sri Lanka, along with the Maldives, is one of two South Asian nations presently ranked as having high human development on the Human Development Index.

Sri Lanka | Introduction

Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, close south of India, that is a famous tourist destination. Sri Lanka is renowned for its natural beauty, with beautiful beaches along its coastline, abundant animals and biodiversity, and a rich history and legacy that dates back millennia.

For 30 years, Sri Lanka was torn apart by a brutal civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers, who fought for an independent state for the Tamil minority. When the Tamil Tigers were bloodily defeated in May 2009, the conflict formally ended, yet significant emigration continues to stifle Sri Lanka’s population growth.


Sri Lanka is located on the Indian Plate, which was formerly part of the Indo-Australian Plate. It is located southwest of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean, between latitudes 5° and 10°N and longitudes 79° and 82°E. The Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait separate Sri Lanka from the Indian subcontinent. A land bridge connected the Indian mainland with Sri Lanka, according to Hindu mythology. Only a network of limestone shoals may currently be found above sea level. According to legend, it was navigable on foot until 1480 AD, when cyclones deepened the waterway. Navigation is still hampered by portions that are as shallow as 1 metre (3 ft).

Mountains rise only in the south-central portion of the island, which is mainly flat to undulating coastal plains. Pidurutalagala, at 2,524 meters (8,281 feet) above sea level, is the highest peak. Because to the cooling effects of the ocean breezes, the climate is tropical and warm. Mean temperatures vary from 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the central highlands, where frost may occur for several days during the winter, to 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in other low-altitude regions. The average annual temperature ranges from 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit) to almost 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures may range from 14 °C (25.2 °F) to 18 °C (32.4 °F) throughout the day and night.

Monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal affect rainfall patterns. The central highlands’ “wet zone” and certain windward slopes get up to 2,500 millimetres (98.4 in) of rain each year, while the leeward slopes in the east and northeast receive very little. The “dry zone” covers much of Sri Lanka’s east, southeast, and northern regions, with annual rainfall ranging from 1,200 to 1,900 mm (47 to 75 in).

With 800 to 1,200 mm (31 to 47 in) of rain each year, the dry northwest and southeast coastlines get the least. Squalls are common, and tropical cyclones may bring cloudy skies and showers to the island’s southwest, northeast, and eastern regions. Humidity is usually greater in the southwest and in hilly regions, and it is affected by rainfall patterns.

Recurrent floods and associated losses to infrastructure, utility supply, and the urban economy have occurred from a rise in average rainfall combined with larger rainfall events.

There are 103 rivers in Sri Lanka. The Mahaweli River, which stretches for 335 kilometers, is the longest of them (208 mi). There are 51 natural waterfalls with a height of 10 meters or more along these rivers. With a height of 263 meters, Bambarakanda Falls is the tallest (863 ft). Sri Lanka’s coastline stretches over 1,585 kilometers. Sri Lanka claims a 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that is about 6.7 times the country’s geographical size. Highly productive marine habitats such as bordering coral reefs and shallow beds of coastal and estuarine seagrasses thrive along the shore and in the surrounding seas.

There are 45 estuaries and 40 lagoons in Sri Lanka. The mangrove ecosystem in Sri Lanka covers approximately 7,000 hectares and had a critical role in absorbing the power of the waves during the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. Minerals such as ilmenite, feldspar, graphite, silica, kaolin, mica, and thorium abound on the island. The presence of petroleum and gas in the Gulf of Mannar has also been proven, and viable amounts are now being extracted.


Because Sri Lanka is a tropical nation, rain may fall at any time of year in most areas. The North-East monsoon (October to January) and the South-West monsoon (February to May) are the two main rainy seasons (May to July).

Because Sri Lanka is an island, the climate varies greatly from one area of the nation to the next. Nuwara Eliya, for example, in the central Sri Lankan highlands, has a year-round temperature of -5 to 20°C, while Hambantota, in the arid zone, has a year-round temperature of 30-35°C.

Sri Lanka has very hot weather all year, which is why most Sri Lankan men wear sarongs while Sri Lankan women dress comfortably in a long garment.


Sri Lanka is the world’s 57th most populous country, with a population of 20,277,597 people and a 0.73 percent annual population growth rate. Sri Lanka’s birth rate is 17.6 per 1,000 people, while its mortality rate is 6.2 per 1,000 people. Western Sri Lanka has the greatest population density, particularly in and around the city. With 74.8 percent of the entire population, Sinhalese are the country’s most populous ethnic group.

Sri Lankan Tamils are the island’s second largest ethnic group, accounting for 11.2% of the population. Sri Lankan Moors make up 9.2% of the population. British colonists imported Tamils of Indian descent into the country as indentured laborers to work on estate plantations. Following independence in 1948, almost half of them were returned. They are distinct from Sri Lanka’s indigenous Tamil population, who has been in the country since ancient times. Small ethnic groups such as the Burghers (of mixed European ancestry) and Southeast Asian Malays exist. Furthermore, there is a tiny community of Vedda people, who are said to be the island’s first inhabitants.


Sri Lanka is a nation that is multi-religious. Buddhists account over 70% of the population, with the Theravada school dominating. The Sinhalese ethnic group makes up the majority of Buddhists. Venerable Mahinda brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BC. At the same time, a seedling of the Bodhi Tree, beneath which the Buddha gained enlightenment, was transported to Sri Lanka. The Pali Canon (Thripitakaya), which had previously been passed down down the generations as an oral tradition, was first written down in Sri Lanka about 30 BC.

Sri Lanka has the longest continuous Buddhist history of any predominantly Buddhist country, with the Sangha having existed in a nearly uninterrupted succession from the 2nd century BC. During times of decline, interaction with Thailand and Burma helped to restore the Sri Lankan monastic tradition. The Constitution gives Buddhism particular respect, requiring Sri Lankans to “guard and nurture the Buddha Sasana.”

Hinduism is Sri Lanka’s second most popular religion, and it predates Buddhism. Hinduism now has a stronghold in Northern, Eastern, and Central Sri Lanka. Tamils make up the majority of Hindus.

Islam is the country’s third most popular religion, having been introduced to the island by Arab merchants over several years, beginning around the 7th century AD. The majority of Muslims are Sunnis who follow the Shafi’i school of thought. The majority of today’s Muslims in Sri Lanka are said to be descended from these Arab merchants and the indigenous women they married.

In the early 16th century, Western immigrants brought Christianity to the nation. Around 7.4% of Sri Lanka’s population is Christian, with 82 percent of them being Roman Catholics who can trace their religious roots back to the Portuguese. The Anglican Church of Ceylon and other Protestant denominations are equally divided among the surviving Christians.

There is also a tiny group of Zoroastrians (Parsis) from India who arrived in Ceylon under British control, although this community has gradually decreased in recent years. Sri Lankans’ lives and cultures are heavily influenced by religion. According to the Lunar calendar, the Buddhist majority observes Poya Days every month, while Hindus and Muslims celebrate their own festivals. Sri Lanka was rated third most religious nation in the world in a Gallup survey in 2008, with 99 percent of Sri Lankans stating religion was an essential part of their everyday lives.


Sri Lanka’s GDP in terms of purchasing power parity is second only to the Maldives in the South Asian area in terms of per capita income, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Sri Lanka developed a plantation economy in the 19th and 20th centuries, renowned for its production and sale of cinnamon, rubber, and Ceylon tea, which is still a hallmark national export. Under British control, the island’s strategic significance as a commercial center was enhanced by the construction of sophisticated ports. From 1948 until 1977, the government’s economic policies were heavily influenced by socialism. Plantations were decommissioned, enterprises were nationalized, and a welfare state was created. The nation was exposed to the free market economy in 1977, which included privatization, deregulation, and the encouragement of private business.

While tea, rubber, coffee, sugar, and other commodities continue to be significant, food processing, textiles, telecommunications, and banking have grown in significance as a result of industrialization. Tourism, tea export, textiles, rice production, and other agricultural goods are the country’s major economic sectors. In addition to these economic sectors, foreign employment, particularly in the Middle East, makes a significant contribution to foreign exchange.

As of 2010, the service sector accounts for 60% of GDP, the industrial sector for 28%, and agriculture accounts for 12%. The private sector employs 85 percent of the workforce. Sri Lanka’s biggest trade partner is India. There are economic inequalities across the provinces, with the Western province accounting for 45.1 percent of GDP and the Southern and Central provinces accounting for 10.7 percent and 10% of GDP, respectively. In 2010, the Northern province recorded a record 22.9 percent GDP growth after the conclusion of the conflict.

Sri Lanka’s per capita income has doubled since 2005. Poverty has decreased from 15.2 percent to 7.6%, the unemployment rate has decreased from 7.2 percent to 4.9 percent, the market capitalization of the Colombo Stock Exchange has tripled, and the budget deficit has doubled during the same time. In Sri Lanka, electricity is available to over 90% of homes. 87.3 percent of the population has access to clean drinking water, whereas 39 percent has piped water. In 2010, a gini coefficient of 0.36 showed that income inequality has decreased in recent years. From 2005 to 2010, Sri Lanka’s cellular subscriber base increased by a whopping 550 percent. Sri Lanka was the first nation in the South Asian area to deploy mobile broadband Internet technology such as 3G, 3.5G HSDPA, 3.75G HSUPA, and 4G LTE.

Sri Lanka’s economy, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, is moving from a factor-driven to an efficiency-driven stage, and it ranks 52nd in global competitiveness. Sri Lanka was also rated 45th in health and basic education, 32nd in business sophistication, 42nd in innovation, and 41st in goods market efficiency out of 142 nations assessed. Sri Lanka is ranked eighth in the World Giving Index, indicating that its people are happy and generous. Sri Lanka was ranked first on The New York Times’ list of 31 places to visit in 2010. Sri Lanka was categorized as an emerging market by Dow Jones in 2010, and as a 3G nation by Citigroup in February 2011. With a score of 0.750, Sri Lanka outperforms other South Asian nations in the Human Development Index (HDI).

Sri Lanka’s road network includes 35 A-grade roads as well as two controlled-access motorways (E01 and E02) (E03). Sri Lanka Railways, the state-owned national railway operator, operates a 1,447-kilometer railway network (900 mi). In addition to the newest port being constructed at Hambantota, Sri Lanka has three deep-water ports in Colombo, Galle, and Trincomalee. The port of Trincomalee is the world’s sixth biggest natural harbour; the British claimed that they could fit their whole fleet in the harbour with space to spare during World War II. SriLankan Airlines is Sri Lanka’s national airline. Sri Lanka’s foreign- and local-currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) have been confirmed by Fitch Ratings at ‘BB-‘ with a “stable” outlook. A space academy has been established with a grant of $20 million from the US and assistance from China with the goal of creating an indigenous space industry capable of launching satellites from other countries as well as Sri Lanka. This dual use of launching technology will help to advance missile technology. China launched Sri Lanka’s first satellite on September 26, 2012, with plans for additional launches in the following years.

How To Travel To Sri Lanka

By plane Colombo-Bandaranaike International Airport (IATA: CMB) is Sri Lanka's first and largest airport; a cab ride to Colombo (35 km) would take approximately an hour. A third international airport, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (Hambantota International Airport, IATA: HRI), opened in 2013 and is situated in the southern portion of...

How To Travel Around Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's infrastructure and public transportation systems are continuously increasing, making independent travel simpler over time. However, owing to local driving customs, many roads are still severely potholed and, at times, frightening. Buses may not seem like the most attractive mode of transportation for some, what with their sometimes...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan authorities will arrest and deport anybody who has a tattoo of Buddha or any other tattoo that might be regarded as religiously significant. If you have such a tattoo, it is highly recommended that you cover it up or avoid visiting Sri Lanka. Visa rules Except for the Maldives...

Destinations in Sri Lanka

Regions in Sri Lanka Officially, Sri Lanka is split into nine administrative provinces: Central Province (Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Sigiriya, Dambulla)Because of its hilly topography, it is known as the "hill country." Northern Province (Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vanni, Mannar)Home to the Tamil-speaking people of the nation. After being devastated by war, it is being restored. North...

Accommodation & Hotels in Sri Lanka

Accommodation in Sri Lanka has changed dramatically in recent years. The contemporary tourism business started in the 1960s with the construction of conventional beach hotels on the west coast targeted mainly at the package vacation population and traditional travel operators. However, the last decade has seen a significant shift,...

Things To See in Sri Lanka

Please be advised that you will be charged up to 10 times more than natives to enter several of Sri Lanka's tourist attractions as a foreigner. Popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka include: Sri Dhalada Maligawa and Peradeniya Gardens in Kandy.The ancient temples in Anuradhapura, Dambulla and Polonnaruwa which are very...

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Depending on your preferences, you can perform a number of things. Surfing is available on the western and southern coasts from November to April. Weligama on the southern shore is the best location for novices. A board may be rented for LKR1,500 per day or LKR400 per hour. Lessons are...

Money & Shopping in Sri Lanka

Costs Accommodation in Sri Lanka is somewhat more costly than in Southeast Asia. Food, on the other hand, is comparable: Local street food costs around €1, a dinner at a local restaurant is about €2-€5, and a bottle of local Lion beer costs about €1. There are modest lodgings, hostels,...

Food & Drinks in Sri Lanka

Food in Sri Lanka Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisines are quite similar, and many local eateries advertise their menus as Sri Lankan & South Indian. However, there are regional differences, such as various kinds of hopper, devilled prawns/cuttlefish/chicken/etc., and the typical spicy addition to any curry, pol sambol, which...

Festivals & Holidays in Sri Lanka

New Year The Sinhala and Tamil new years ("Aluth Avurudhu" in Sinhala, "Puthiyathandu" in Tamil) are two of the most important cultural events on the island. The celebration is held in April (also known as the month of Bak), when the sun passes from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces)...

Traditions & Customs in Sri Lanka

There are a few traditions that will take some getting accustomed to, especially for Western visitors. When visiting temples, it is traditional to remove your shoes and dress respectfully (no miniskirts, tank tops, short pants, etc…). It is also customary to remove shoes before entering a house, but this is...

Internet & Communications in Sri Lanka

Phone Sri Lanka's country code is 94. When dialing from outside the country, remove the intercity prefix (0) before the area code (for example, 0112 688 688 becomes +94 112 688 688). The two digits after 94 indicate the area code, which varies by district. Mobile GSM telephones are widely used, and...

Language & Phrasebook in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's two official languages are Sinhala, which is spoken by the majority Sinhalese, and Tamil, which is spoken by the minority Tamil and Muslim communities. English is widely spoken in most cities, including Colombo, Kandy, and Galle, as well as by government and tourist authorities. However, although most...

Culture Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan culture goes back over 2500 years. It is mainly inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism. Sri Lanka has two major traditional cultures: Sinhalese (centered on the ancient towns of Kandy and Anuradhapura) and Tamil (centred in the city of Jaffna). More recently, the people have been impacted by...

History Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a continuous recorded history of over 2,500 years, as documented by the Mahawansha, and is referenced in many ancient Indian scriptures. One of the most famous is the Ramayana, in which the island, known as Lanka, was the island stronghold of King Ravana, who kidnapped Rama,...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Sri Lanka

Stay Safe in Sri Lanka After the military defeat of rebel rebels in the north of the nation in June 2009, the Sri Lankan government removed travel advisories, although it is still a good idea to check with your country's local travel advisory office if you have any doubts. Sri...



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