facebook
About Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in a few words...

A charming tear drop shaped island in the heart of the Indian Ocean. The numerous names the island has had - Ceylon, Lanka, Taprobane and Serendib - reflect the many civilisations, religions and cultures that have settled on her shores.

Between the places testifying an incomparable cultural wealth (Sigiriya, Pollonaruwa, Galle, Kandy, Anuradhapura,) the resplendent beaches (Trincomalle, Tangalle, Unawatuna, Mirissa, Hikkaduwa), the cascades, the tea plantations (Nuwara Eliya), national parks (Yala, Udawalawe, Horton Lime pits, Adams’ Peak…) etc… you will find in Sri Lanka all the ingredients for perfect holidays!

We also organise your trip, your honeymoon or your extension for a few days in Maldives, only an hour’s flight from Colombo.

Sri Lanka in a few words...

A charming tear drop shaped island in the heart of the Indian Ocean. The numerous names the island has had - Ceylon, Lanka, Taprobane and Serendib - reflect the many civilisations, religions and cultures that have settled on her shores.

Between the places testifying an incomparable cultural wealth (Sigiriya, Pollonaruwa, Galle, Kandy, Anuradhapura,) the resplendent beaches (Trincomalle, Tangalle, Unawatuna, Mirissa, Hikkaduwa), the cascades, the tea plantations (Nuwara Eliya), national parks (Yala, Udawalawe, Horton Lime pits, Adams’ Peak…) etc… you will find in Sri Lanka all the ingredients for perfect holidays!

We also organise your trip, your honeymoon or your extension for a few days in Maldives, only an hour’s flight from Colombo.

Population

Population

People

The isle of Sri Lanka is home to more than 20 million people. The capital city Colombo and adjoining western region house the highest density of population. The multi-ethnic Sri Lankan society consists of Sinhalese who account for more that 70% of the population, Sri Lankan Tamils with more than 10% of the share, and other minority clans including Burghers and Vedda. Sinhals are said to have migrated from north India to the island around 500 B.C., while Burgers can be identified as Eurasian of Dutch/ Portuguese decent. Forefathers of the Tamils migrated to Sri Lanka from southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu. A sizeable Muslim community dwells in Sri Lanka as well, comprising the Sri Lankan Moors, the Indian Moors, and the Malays, each with their own history and rituals.

The ethnic heritage of Sri Lankan people is characterised by two main aspects - language and religion. Most Sinhals are followers of Buddhism while Tamils are predominantly Hindu. Sinhals speak Sinhala, which is the official and national language of the country, while the Tamils speak Tamil, also a national language. English is called a link language by the government and is spoken competently by the urbanites and educated.

Gastronomy

Gastronomy

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. Curries range from the excellent crab curry in Jaffna to scrumptious jackfruit curry in Kandy. Most signature dishes of the island are concocted using coconut milk as a base, which makes the consistency rich and bestows that characteristic flavour.

The Sri Lankans have their own distinctive style of preparing fish curries. Southern ambul thiyal or sour fish curry is very popular. Curries are famously hot, brewed with myriad condiments and exuding mouth watering aroma. Sri Lankans have perfected the art of sea food gastronomy, so don’t miss freshly prepared crabs, jumbo prawns and lobsters!

Wafers, pickles and chutneys are popular accompaniments in Sri Lankan cuisine. Sweetmeats are also an integral part of the fare, such as Kavum (battercake of ground rice and treacle), Halape (blend of coconut, jaggery and flour) and Wattalapam.

Sri Lanka’s tea plantations are not only a bewitching spectacle, but also amongst the top producers of tea in the world. Tea is usually brewed with milk and sugar and sometimes crushed ginger can give an added kick. Some local alcoholic brews are Toddy and Arrack made from palm fruit.

Festivals

Festivals

A predominant Buddhist country, the Sri Lankan calendar is filled with Buddhist festivals. 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.

Esala Perahera takes places in Kandy on the full moon day of August and is one of the most symbolic and vibrant festivals in the country. The day pays homage to the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, which is carried around in a magnificent 12-day procession of brightly clad elephants, frenzied acrobats, fire-dancers, fanatic whip-dancers and Kandian dancers.

Major Hindu festivals celebrated by Tamils in Sri Lanka are Thai Pongal (January), Maha Shivaratri (February/March), Vel (July/August) and Deepavali (November). Vel is a Hindu festival held in Colombo in July or August to venerate the God of War. A gilded chariot containing the weapons of this revered god is displayed in a procession. The Muslims celebrate Hajj and Ramadan in their respective days of the year.

Apart from religious occasions, other cultural and recreational fairs are making their mark in the festival calendar of Sri Lanka. The Galle Literature Fest, held in January, is a highly anticipated literary event that is held in the intimate contours of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Galle Fort on the west coast of Sri Lanka. The Pro Surf Tournament takes place in July at Arugambay and the Hikkaduwa Beach fest is a musical extravaganza.

History

History

Sri Lanka has a historical heritage dating back more than 2,500 years. Ancient civilisations such as Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa flourished before the medieval times. The ruling family of Anuradhapura embraced Buddhism in the 3rd century B.C. and the town became the first Buddhist centre of Sri Lanka. The rulers of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa resisted the attacks of Tamils for many centuries; however the latter eventually established a stronghold.

During the 16th century, Sri Lanka faced its first European invasion from the Portuguese. Subsequently the Dutch usurped control of coastal areas and ruled for 140 years. The Dutch were overthrown by the British who won over the kingdom of Kandy in 1815. During the colonial period, Sri Lanka came to be known as Ceylon and continued to hold the same name even after gaining independence from the British in 1948. It was in 1972 that the island declared itself as a republic and adopted the name ‘Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka’. Sri Lanka witnessed a civil war between its incumbent government and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) for almost 30 years. The infamous Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 2004 struck the island, killing over 30,000 people, leaving several injured and homeless and shaking the entire social fabric of the nation.

In 2009, the government forces declared victory over the rebels and regained control of the northern and the eastern part of the island. Today the country is returning to normalcy with cautiousness and hope.

Climate

Climate

Climate

Sri Lanka enjoys a tropical climate throughout the year. Average yearly temperature ranges from 25°C to 31°C though it can drop slightly in the higher altitude regions. Sri Lanka is visited by two monsoons, once from May to October on the west coast and then from November to April on the east coast.

Ocean winds and warm beach weather make Sri Lanka the idyllic seaside vacation spot. If you don’t want to get stuck in a deluge (rains can be pretty moody and emphatic in this tropical island), the dry seasons are the best time to visit. If you travel anytime from December to March, the west and south coast will be drier, albeit a shower here and there may play spoilsport to a beach tan. The capital city of Colombo will beckon you during this time. April to September is the opportune period to pay the region of ancient cities a visit, as well as the east coast.

If you want to partake in festivities, July and August witness the 10 day celebration of Kandy Esala Perahera and the Kataragama festival in the South.

Geography

Geography

Geography

Set in the Indian Ocean in South Asia, the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka almost kisses the southeast tip of India. The country is made up of mostly low, flat to rolling coastal plains with the south-central interiors containing mountains peaking no more than 2,600m. The highest point Pidurutalagala, reaches 2,524m above sea level. The northern peninsula of the island contains almost arid land whereas the central part is covered with misty mountains and breathtaking views where the Ceylon’s finest tea is grown. A coastline of 1,340km packs some of the most pristine and glossy beaches you will ever see. The coastline and waters give rise to prolific and bountiful marine ecosystems such as fringing coral reefs, shallow beds of coastal and estuarine sea grasses.

Within a compact area of 65,525km, the island is punctuated with white sand tropical beaches, lush tea plantations, rivers, waterfalls, and botanical gardens. The more than 15 wildlife sanctuaries offer nature enthusiasts a peek at leopards, languid water buffaloes, exotic birds and myriad primates.

The longest river in the country is the Mahaweli River, covering a distance of 335km. Along with 100 more rivers, these waterways tumble down through more than 50 natural waterfalls. The highest waterfall is Bambarakanda Falls, with a height of 263m.

Religion

Religion

Religion

Religion is an important part of everyday life in Sri Lanka. Buddhism is the most common religion followed by more than 70% of the population, mostly from the Sinhalese community. The majority follow the Theravada school of Buddhism, a relatively conservative form of the religion. Buddhism is believed to have been introduced to Sri Lanka in the 2nd century B.C. when a sapling of the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment was brought to the country. The Temple of the Tooth founded in the 16th century in the city of Kandy is the most pivotal Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka.

Hinduism has the second largest following in Sri Lanka, mostly in the Tamil community. This religion also came to the island from India and is followed in many parts of Sri Lanka except the southern and western regions. The Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil in Jaffna, dated back to the 10th century, is one of the most sacred places for Hinduism in Sri Lanka.

While India was the genesis of Buddhism and Hinduism, it was the Arabian traders who settled down in the coastal areas of Sri Lanka from the 7th century onwards to form the Muslim community. Islam is the third most practiced religion in the country today, followed by Christianity, which was introduced to the island in the 16th century with the arrival of the Portuguese.

Copyright ShantiTravel - 2016 - All Rights Reserved