About Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka facts

  • Government: Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
  • Capital:Colombo
  • Population (2012 census): 20,277,597
  • Area:65,525 square kilometers (25,299 square miles)
  • Major languages:Sinhala, Tamil, English
  • Major religions: BuddhismBuddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim
  • Currency:Sri Lankan rupee
  • GDP per Capita: S. $3,700
  • Literacy Percent: 92%

The island nation of Sri Lanka regularly features as one of the top tourist destinations in the world. And the story is not new. Historic travellers like Fa-Hien visited Sri Lanka in the 4th century and 16th centuries later, Italian explorer Marco Polo declared that Sri Lanka was the best island of its size in the world. In 2013, Lonely Planet rated Sri Lanka as the best travel destination of the year.

What makes Sri Lanka so special?

It is a beautiful island nation with a rich Buddhist heritage. The main inhabitants are the Sinhalese people who speak the Sinhalese language and are largely Buddhists, which is the most popular religion. The other major community is the Indian Tamils. The world still remembers the small country for its civil war, which perturbed the country for about three decades, and it was between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan government. The civil war ended in 2009 when the government forces defeated the LTTE. Other native communities include the Moors, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Vedda.

Sri Lanka has one of the richest Buddhist heritages. The first recorded Buddhist writings in the country, the Pali Canon, records back to the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29BC. The country still boasts of numerous Buddhist religious sites and monasteries. One of the most popular Buddhist attractions is the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, which has the tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Kandy was the former capital of Sri Lanka and today it is a World Heritage Site.

Sri Lanka is also a wildlife hotspot. The Yala National Park is popular for having the highest concentration of leopards per square kilometer in the world. The Minneriya Park is regarded to have the largest gathering of wild Asian elephants in the world. Because of its rich biodiversity, Sri Lanka is among the 34 Biodiversity Hotspots in the world. Some of the popular National Parks in Sri Lanka include the Adam’s Bridge, the Angammedilla, Bundala, Chundikkulam, Delft, Plood Plains, Gal Oya, Galway’s Land and many others.

Sri Lanka has about 1,600 kilometer of coastline and it is only natural that the country has some of the best tropical beaches in the world. As such, marine recreation activities is very popular including surfing, boating, snorkeling, underwater fishing and underwater photography, scuba diving etc. some of the popular beaches include those in Tangalle, Beruwala, Mirissa, Bentota etc. The Unamatuna Beach was named as the Best Beach in the World in 2004.

One of the most popular attractions in Sri Lanka is the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya. As the name suggests, there are ruins on a gigantic fortress atop a huge rock, which is bigger than a football stadium. UNESCO has declared six archaeological and two ecological World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. Most of the heritage sites in the country could be attributed to the advent of Buddhism, which began with missionaries sent by the Indian emperor, Asoka as early as 236 B.C.

Some popular Buddhist attractions in Sri Lanka include Anuradhapura, Temple of the Tooth, Sri Pada, Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu and Kataragama. The country also has four national museums and 26 archaeological museums

The popular festivals in Sri Lanka include the Sinhala and Tamil New Year Celebrations, Vesak Festival, Christmas, Ramadan festival, Thai Pongal, and the Galle Literary Festivals. Some popular art forms includewoodcarving, Silverware, Brass castings, Ceramic ware, Bamboo products, Pottery, Batiks, Lace works, Cane works, Costume jewelry, Lacquerware, Wooden masks, Coir goods, Handlooms, and Ivory products.

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