Sri Lanka Fact File

Formal Name:Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Short Form: Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon during British Colonial era)

Term for Citizens: Sri Lankan(s)

Commercial Capital: Colombo, located on the southwestern coast.

Administrative Capital: Sri Jayewardenepura since 1982.

Sri Lanka Fact File – Facts you ought to know about Sri Lanka prior to your visit.

Located 880km north of the equator, Sri Lanka is an amazing island destination located in the heart of the Indian Ocean at the very base of the Indian sub-continent. Sri Lanka has a pleasant tropical climate that can be enjoyed the whole year round with average temperature of the low lands (coastal to inner coastal areas) ranging between 25-30 degrees Celsius. It is a stunning multi-ethnic and multi-religious country with a diverse and rich culture and a total population of 20 million. English is widely spoken and is studied as a compulsory secondary language in school. Sri Lanka enjoys a Per Capita GDP of US$900/- which is the highest in South Asia. Thanks to the governments ‘free education policy’ extend to every child in Sri Lanka the country’s literacy rate is 92% which is the highest in South Asia and is the second highest in Asia. According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) statistics and forecasts Sri Lanka’s Business Environment ranks 11th in the South Asian region and 42nd in the world, ahead of countries such as India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan to name a few. 


Size: Pear-shaped warm Tropical Island 29 kilometers off the southeastern coast of India in the Indian Ocean; total area 65,610 square kilometers, of which land area 64,740 square kilometers

Landscape: The island is blessed with golden sand beaches right along most of it coastal line and the central region is dominated by lush mountainous regions. The highest elevation is Pidurutalagala at 2,524 meters above sea level. However Adam’s Peak is better known and attracts many visitors due to its legendary myth and captivating ascend to it summit at 2,243 meters. The coastal belt is less than a 100 meter elevation and is succeeded by rolling plains at an elevation of 100 to 500 meters of a varying width of extension from seashore to foothills of the central region. In the Northern half of the island the landscape falls away to rolling plans with only isolated ridges to relive this flow. The Rivers of the island extend in a radial formation starting at the central mountainous regions and gradually making their way to the coast. The longest river is the Mahaweli Ganga (river) that extends from the Mountain region in a North Easterly direction at a length of 860kms. Approximately 40% of the island is forested and adds to the stark beauty of the land.

Monsoon Period in Sri Lanka: The Southwest monsoons are expected from Mid May to October during which time the South Western coastlines are generally not bathable. The sea tends to be rough and the change of the tide makes the color a muddy blue. During this time the East coast is stunning and is the best time to vacation in. The Northeast Monsoon is expected from December to March during which the East coast is not bathable and tends to get rough due to high-tide. Rains however can be expected any time of the year and a few showers here and there does not change the warm climate too drastically, yet helps cool the place down a little.

Ancient History Of Sri Lanka

About five centuries BC, Sri Lanka was a land said to be soaring with energy and a well-ordered civilization. The building of great cities, palaces, parks, monuments, reservoirs, temples and monasteries were developed throughout the ages. Works of art lay testement to these great achievements and have aided in the character, imagination, culture, philosophy and the faith of the people of Sri Lanka. The remnants of this glorious ancient civilization is still abundantly alive in the heart and sole of the people of Sri Lanka today. The first major legendary reference to the island is found in the great Indian epic, the Ramayana, which is thought to have been written around 500 B.C. The Ramayana tells of the conquest of Lanka in 3000 B.C. by Prince Rama, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. Rama's quest to save his abducted wife, Sita, from Ravanna, the demon god of Lanka, is, according to some scholars, a poetic account of the early southward expansion of Brahmanic civilization. The most valuable source of knowledge for the legends and historical heritage of Sri Lanka is the Mahavamsa (Great Geneology or Dynasty), a chronicle compiled in Pali, in the 6th century. Vijaya, the first king of Lanka, is the central legendary figure in the Mahavamsa. He was the grandson of an Indian princess Suppadevi from Vanga in northern India who had been abducted by an amorous lion, Sinha, and son of their incestuous and half-leonine offspring, Sinhabahu & Sinhasivali. Along with 700 of Prince Vijaya’s followers, perhaps from Kalinga (now Orissa), Vijaya arrived in Lanka, and established himself as ruler with the help of Kuveni, a local demon-worshiping princess. Although Kuveni had given birth to two of Vijaya's children, she was banished by the ruler, who then marriage a princess from Madurai in southeastern India. Kuveni's offspring are the folkloric ancestors of the present day Veddahs.

Sri Lanka's Historical And Cultural Heritage

Covers more than 2,000 years. Known as Lanka--the "resplendent land"--in the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, the island has numerous other references that testify to the island's natural beauty and wealth. Islamic folklore maintains that Adam and Eve were offered refuge on the island as solace for their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Asian poets, noting the geographical location of the island and lauding its beauty, called it the "pearl upon the brow of India." A troubled nation in the 1980s, torn apart by communal violence, Sri .Lanka has more recently been called India's "fallen tear." The Sinhalese claim to have been the earliest colonizers of Sri Lanka, first settling in the dry north-central regions as early as 500 B.C. Between the third century B.C. and the twelfth century A.D., they developed a great civilization centered around the cities of Anuradhapura and later Polonnaruwa, which was noted for its genius in hydraulic engineering--the construction of water tanks (reservoirs) and irrigation canals, for example--and its guardianship of Buddhism. State patronage gave Buddhism a heightened political importance that enabled the religion to escape the fate it had experienced in India, where it was eventually absorbed by Hinduism. The history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, especially its extended period of glory, is for many Sinhalese a potent symbol that links the past with the present. An enduring ideology defined by two distinct elements--sinhaladeepa (unity of the island with the Sinhalese) and dhammadipa (island of Buddhism)-- designates the Sinhalese as custodians of Sri Lankan society. This theme finds recurrent expression in the historical chronicles composed by Buddish monks over the centuries, from the mythological founding of the Sinhalese "lion" race around 300 B.C. to the capitulation of the Kingdom of Kandy, the last independent Sinhalese polity in the early nineteenth century. The institutions of Buddhist-Sinhalese civilization in Sri Lanka came under attack during the colonial eras of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. During these centuries of colonialization, the state encouraged and supported Christianity- -first Roman Catholicism, then Protestantism. Most Sinhalese regard the entire period of European dominance as an unfortunate era, but most historians--Sri Lankan or otherwise--concede that British rule was relatively benign and progressive compared to that of the Dutch and Portuguese. Influenced by the ascendant philosophy of liberal reformism, the British were determined to anglicize the island, and in 1802, Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) became Britain's first crown colony. The British gradually permitted native participation in the governmental process; and under the Donoughmore Constitution of 1931 and then the Soulbury Constitution of 1946, the franchise was dramatically extended, preparing the island for independence two years later.

Tourism in Sri Lanka

Ceylon Tourist Board was established in 1966 by the Government of Sri Lanka with the aim of strengthening and regulating the country’s thriving tourist industry. The board operates as an independent corporation and is responsible in all aspects of promotions of the country’s tourism and in regulating all operations within the industry. All private tourism service providers have strict guideline to operate in and licenses are provided to regulate the operators. These licenses are annually renewed and operations periodically reviewed to determine all protocols are strictly adhered to by service providers. Tour Guide are also licensed and have to go through a vigorous training program after which photo identifications are provided. These licenses too have to be annually renewed.

What you should know when selecting a Travel Agent or Tour Guide in Sri Lanka

When selecting your travel agent in Sri Lanka , always ask if they are licensed by the Sri Lanka Tourism Board. You can also request to see a copy of the license. Tourist Associations such as Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA), Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Travel Agents' Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL) are all well respected associations in Sri Lanka that help operators and also regulate ethical operational practices service providers should abide by. As all Tour Guides are also licensed in Sri Lanka, when you select your tour guide always ask to see their current photo identification issued by the Sri Lanka Tourism Department. If in doubt of the legitimacy of your service provider you can always contact the Tourist Board directly for assistance. Visit. http://www.srilankatourism.org/ for more information.

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