Sri Lanka at a Glance

Take in Sri Lanka at a glance - Lonely Planet's No.1 tourist destination of 2019

Sri Lanka is a small tropical island located in the middle of the Indian Ocean just a hair’s breadth away from India’s west Coast. The country is such a unique place not just because of its history or culture, but because of the amount of diverse landscapes and things to do that comes with it, which is packed into such a small land area.
Sri Lanka was named as the Top Travel Destination in the world in 2019 by Lonely Planet travel guide and there is a reason why so many travelers flock to this island nation.

Because it is an Island it is blessed with some beautiful white sandy beaches that encircle it and since it is a tropical island the weather always remains favorable for you to enjoy the beaches as well. With over 2 millennia of history, you can witness a grand scale cultural content and heritage within the country. 8 UNESCO world heritage sites being situated in Sri Lanka, is the best proof of this.
The Sri Lankan population is made up of people from various ethnicities and religions. This is mostly due to the numerous outside influences, from various parts of the world. Sinhalese are the main ethnic group in the country while the Tamils are the second largest while the Muslims and Burghers make up the other two main communities.

The Diversity of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka may be a small country but the amount of things & experiences that you can find in this small piece of land will overwhelm you. The physical diversity itself is mind-boggling. From amazing sandy beaches to amazing wildlife parks, from cold mountain tops to arid salt lake flats, from green tea plantations to amazing marine wildlife; you can find all of these within a couple of hours journey.
There are quite a few places in Sri Lanka to enjoy some amazing wildlife. You can find many wildlife sanctuaries that you can see Sri Lankan animals such as Elephants, Leopards & Sloth bears. There are bird sanctuaries that are home to Sri Lankan as well as migratory bird species. The seas around the island are home to some amazing marine life such as blue whales and dolphins as well.

The Sri Lankan cuisine is filled with a variety of spices and flavors that will overwhelm your senses. There various different dishes originating from all around the country and there are some left behind from colonial days. This all adds up to a savory sensation for your taste buds.
As a tourist, you can leave with suitcases worth of stuff on your way home. And it’s not just souvenirs.
There are things like local hand loomed garments, batiks, handicrafts, gems and jewelry, fresh local produce, the famous Ceylon tea, etc. the options are endless.

A Place for the Mind and Soul

Sri Lanka has been known to be a place where you can relax and unwind. This has been mostly due to the many different ways to restore and reenergize the mind and body that has been handed down generation to generation in the country. The Ayurvedic medicine and Spas plus the yoga relaxation methods have been trusted treatments to weary minds and bodies.
With its Buddhist core Sri Lanka offers a great opportunity for people who come looking for spiritual enlightenment. With meditation and Buddhist teachings people can easily find the inner peace that they are looking for. This is why some visitors from abroad return to Sri Lanka every year so that keep that connection alive.

As a tropical country, the coastal area of the island has a typical hot weather while the central highlands have a cooler weather and high humidity throughout the year.   However, as an overall, the climate is not too hot neither too cold in any part of the country hence travelers don’t need to be specially prepared for any typical weather condition during their travel to Sri Lanka. Preferably you should wear light clothing and it’s advisable to dress conservatively specially while visiting the religious places.

Sri Lanka Religions and Cultures

When it comes to religions and cultures, the main nationality is Sinhalese and Buddhism is the most commonly practiced religion, followed by Hinduism, Catholics, Muslims, Christians etc. Sinhala is the majority language of the country and Tamil and English languages are the secondary languages. Therefore, a foreign visitor could easily adapt and blend up with the society during their visit to Sri Lanka.

During your vacation, you can easily communicate and keep in touch with your loved ones as anyone can easily obtain a local mobile phone connection to make both local and IDD calls at extremely affordable rates. You can purchase telephone recharge cards from any grocery store island-wide.  Further, you may even purchase mobile phones at cheap prices from here. In addition, there are so many cyber cafes, post offices and courier services as well.

Health care is always a top priority in Sri Lanka for locals and tourists both. Water is good enough to drink but it is advisable to consume bottled drinking water whenever possible. It is always ideal to choose reputed hotels in order to enjoy the standard and hygienic facilities during your stay in Sri Lanka. Medical facilities are readily available in both government and private hospitals throughout the country. Hospitals are well equipped with all modern medical facilities plus well trained and highly qualified staff.

Services and Utilities

Constant electricity supply is available in almost every part of the island hence you can easily keep up your essential routine tasks such as watching television, charging mobile phone and laptop computer etc.
The national currency in Sri Lanka is ‘Sri Lankan Rupees’. It’s much better to exchange your own currency in to Sri Lankan rupees during your stay so that it would make your transactions much easier. The currency exchange rates remain quite fair for the customers.

Moreover, you can easily obtain a visa just upon your arrival which will be valid for 30 days yet could be extended if required by paying a small additional visa extension fee.

Other than sightseeing and relaxing, you would be able to get an unforgettable shopping experience in Sri Lanka, especially gems, tea, spices, batiks, leather goods, ceramics and garments as well.

Sri Lanka Stats & Figures

Country  The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. It became Sri Lanka – and a republic – in 1972, with the addition of ‘Sri’, meaning ‘resplendent’, to an ancient name for the island, ‘Lanka’.

Location  An island off the southern tip of India, 880km north of the Equator; latitude 5°55’ to 9°50’N, longitude 70°42’ to 81°52’E

Area  65,525km² (25,299 square miles)

Topography  Flat on the coastal areas and northern half of the island with the central and south-central areas being hilly and mountainous

Climate  Tropical in lowlands with average temperatures of 27°C. Cooler in hills with average of 16°C. Monsoon in southwest May–July; in northeast, December–January.

Capital  The official administrative capital is Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, an otherwise rather obscure satellite of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo

Population  21 million (2017 estimate), of whom 74.9% are Sinhalese, 11.2% Sri Lankan Tamil, 4.2% Indian Tamil, 9.2% Moors, with the balance being Malays, Burghers (descendants of Dutch colonists) and others

Population distribution  Urban 21.5%, rural 72.2%, estate 6.3%

Literacy rate  92.6%

Life expectancy at birth  Males 71 years; females 78 years

Economy  Main foreign-exchange earners: emigrants’ remittances, tea, tourism (2 million visitors in 2016) and locally manufactured garment exports

Gross domestic product (GDP)  US$80 billion

Average per capita income  US$2,500 per annum

Languages  Official languages are Sinhala (spoken by 74% of the population) and Tamil (18%). English as the official link language

Religion  Theravada Buddhist 70.2%, Hindu 12.6%, Muslim 9.7%, Christian 7.4%

Currency  Rupee (Rs)

International dialling code  +94

Time  GMT +5 hours 30 minutes

Electricity  230 volts AC

Weights and measures  Metric

Flag  Two equal stripes of green and yellow alongside the Lion Flag of King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe

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