The island of Sri Lanka is situated in the Indian Ocean, close to the southern tip of Indian, to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal. It is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The island is 700 km distance approximately from the Maldivian islands. According to Hindu mythology, a land bridge linked the Indian mainland, known as Rama’s Bridge, was constructed during the time of Rama by the vanara architect Nala. Because of its location and importance the island, had been known by various names in the past such as “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, “Serendib”, “Taprobane” “Sea Land” & “Ceylon”. In 1972 the traditional name “Sri Lanka” came into use
6 – 10 North Latitude
80 – 82 East Latitude
Maximum Length – 432 Km
Maximum Breadth – 224 Km
Land Area – 65,610 Sq. Km
Sri Lanka is situated about 6° north of the equator. Therefore its tropical temperature varies around 26 °C – 32 °C at sea level and in the central hills it ranges from 9 °C – 22 °C through the year. Rain falls are experienced during two monsoons: south-west monsoon which begins from May to September and the north–east monsoon from December to February. Atmosphere is fresher by the currents of Indian ocean, and one can travel to Sri Lanka throughout all year, without any problem, but the best season is between November and April, with a beautiful blue sky and calm enough sea.
The population of the country is about 23 million, having the capital city Colombo and adjoining western region house the highest density.
The multi-ethnic Sri Lankan society consists of Sinhalese who account for more that 83% of the population, Tamils with more than 8% of the share, and other minority clans including Muslims, Burghers and Vedda.
The ethnic heritage of Sri Lankan people is characterized by two main aspects – language and religion. The Buddhism is followed by the majority while Tamils are predominantly Hindúes (7,1 %), and Christians (6,2 %), Muslims (7,6 %), are practiced by the others.
Sinhala & Tamil are the official and national language. Sinhala is an Indo–Arya language which is derived from an ancient language called “Sanskrit”. English is called a link language and is spoken widely throughout the country except the most rural areas.
Sri Lanka’s standard time is +5.30 hours from Greenwich Mean Time
Many historic inherited traditions are still followed by the locals up to this date. Holidays and festivals in Sri Lanka are an essential part of culture. 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.
Kandyan tradition is one such dominant tradition which is still alive in all its glory. Every July or August, thousands of Sri Lankans travel to the hill city of Kandy to watch dancers, acrobats, drummers, whip crackers, flame throwers and more than 100 elegantly decorated elephants parade through the streets during Esala Perahera. This is a 10-day festival in honor of to the country’s most prized possession, the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.
Sri Lanka had been known as a hot-spot in business & trade of South East Asia from the past. In the early days spices & gems were sold mainly. Chronicles say that for Julius Caesar’s army, elephants were taken from here. Today the main exports are tea, rubber spices, gems & jewelleries and garments.
Due to its proximity to South India, the cuisine of Sri Lanka shows some influence, yet is in many ways quite distinct.
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. Most signature dishes of the island are concocted using coconut milk as a base, which makes the consistency richer and bestows that characteristic flavor.
Sri Lanka’s tea plantations are not only a bewitching spectacle, but also amongst the top producers of tea in the world. Some local alcoholic brews are Toddy and Arrack made from palm fruit.
A word of caution to the uninitiated: “sambols” are fiendishly hot and could leave you with a red face.
Sri Lanka has long been renowned for its spices. In the 15th and 16the centuries, traders from all over the world came in search of fragrant and aromatic cardamoms, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Visitors must apply for the Electronic Travel Authorization via www.eta.gov.lk established in the Department of Immigration and Emigration.