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ABOUT SRI LANKA

We are the land of eternal summertime. Veiled in myth, enriched in ancient history, bathed in monsoons and forever warmed in the summer sun, Sri Lanka is an island made for the traveler and not merely the tourist.

Our tiny, pearl shaped island in the Indian Ocean has a world of adventures waiting to happen to you. Our ancient culture, our aesthetic heritage, multi-cultural colonial history, golden beaches, wildlife, marine life, breathtaking landscapes, metropolitan cities, intercontinental cuisine and wide open smiles all combine to create the perfect voyage. We’re an ancient land with friendly people and distinctive encounters that you aren’t going to be able to find anywhere else on the planet. No other little land offers the kind of big trip that only Sri Lanka can. We are the embodiment of serendipity and plenty. Coming to Sri Lanka is a little like fitting the whole world into the palm of your hand.

History

The island has an incomparably rich history for a small place, owing to its strategic location on the world map. Sri Lanka became the meeting place of many ancient trade routes and as a result brought in many newcomers from visitors curious to see what the land had to offer, to invaders who wanted to pillage and control it. Missionaries came to spread the Word and traders who brought in exotic silks and perfume and with them came legendary world explorers and adventurous voyagers. Some came and went while others stayed behind, not wanting to leave this paradise.

Sri Lanka’s history dates back to nearly 35,000 years ago; this is evidenced by the Mesolithic era skeleton found in the Balangoda region of the country. Ancient Pali chronicles tell of aboriginal tribes commonly referred to as the Veddahs (Yaksha, Naga, Raksha and Deva) who’s small remaining community still live in a pocket village on the island. The tribes were invaded in the 6th century BC by the banished North Indian prince Vijaya, who according to legend, had a lion for a grandfather from whom the island’s majority race, the Sinhalese claim their mythical lineage.

This invasion went on to form the foundation for the country’s kingdom structure which began to thrive in the early Iron Age where great cities like Anuradhapura and Pollonnaruwa rose to prominence as hubs for rich culture, creed and creativity. In the 3rd century BC, Buddhism also arrived on the island to be embraced by our kings, who in turn passed on the philosophy to their people. It was the norm at the time for the Tamil settlers from South India to occupy the coastal belt of the island while the Sinhalese kingdoms thrived inland.

By the 7th Century, Sri Lanka had become a hub for trade and commerce with gems, cinnamon and ivory being our core trading goods. This period also saw many Arab traders settle in the country, especially in Jaffna and Galle bringing with them Islamic faith and culture.

Recognizing the island’ strategic value at the time, Sri Lanka was invaded by the Portuguese in 1505 that turned the island into a colony, until it was captured by the Dutch in 1602. Dutch colonization was brought to a halt in 1796 when the British took over governance of the country. Under the rule of each of these diverse cultures, Sri Lanka continued to evolve as melting pot of combined culture and development that is still evident today.

On the 4th of February 1948, Ceylon gained independence and became the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

In the years between the beginning of Sri Lanka and its present eclectic boom, many travelers and explorers have set foot on the island from Ibn Batuta to Marco Polo, setting the stage for your voyage to the island today.

Other Information:

  • Sri Lanka’s landmass is an expanse of 65,610 square kilometers and is situated exactly 880 kilometers north of the Equator, making the island a fine example of tropical diversity.  
  • The main source of national trade and produce are agriculture and apparel, both employing large numbers of women who contribute largely to the country’s GDP
  • The island’s 20 million population is divided between the Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Burgher, Malay, Chinese and Veddah ethnicities who in turn follow and practice many religions.   
  • The country has one international airport and many domestic ones, allowing you to travel by air from terrain to terrain and region to region
  • The main currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee
  • The island’s time zone is exactly GMT + 6 hours.
  • Sri Lanka is a year round visit destination that allows you to experience different locales depending on the time of your visit. November to April are the best times of year to visit the South and Western parts of the island while May to September is ideal for the North and East.
  • The visit visa process is simple – you apply online and have your visa stamped on arrival in the country. A one month visit visa costs as little as US$ 30.
  • Traveling within the country can happen by road, air, boat or rail, depending on your budget and requirements.
  • The main spoken languages in the country are Sinhalese and Tamil but you are sure to encounter many people who will address you in English, since most Sri Lankans are raised to be bi-lingual.  
  • Electricity runs on 230V/50hz so remember to ask for or bring along an adopter
  • And in Sri Lanka, we don’t say hello. We say Ayubowan!


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