Sri Lanka is known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean and is a tear-drop shaped island off the south-east coast of India, lying just north of the Equator. It has an area of approximately 65,000 sq.km. Its terrain is mostly low, flat to rolling plains with mountains in the central south interior. Its highest point is Pidurutalalagala at 2,524m with Adams Peak (Sri Pada) being 2,243m high. Its longest river is the Mahaweli River at 335km long. It has a huge range of topographic features making it one of the most scenic places in the world. Our Sri Lanka off the Beaten Track tour is a great way to discover the hidden delights of this country.
There have been a wide range of influences over the island. It has a recorded history of over 2,500 years. In ancient times, it was known as Taprobane by the Ancient Greeks, Serendib by the Arabs, Ceilao by the Portuguese, which then became known as Ceylon by the British. It finally became the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in 1948. (Lanka coming from the Sanskrit name, meaning "resplendent land" which was how the Island was described in the Indian Epic "Ramayana"). The earliest peoples were ancestors of the Wanniyala-Aetto people known as the Veddahs, descendants of which, live on the edge of the Knuckles Range in the centre of the Island. Our 8 Day Group Highlights Tour will take you on unique journey to many of the historical and religious landmarks of Sri Lanka.
The population is approximately 20 million made up as follows:-Sinhalese 74%, Tamil 8%, Muslim 7%, Burghers (descendants of Dutch & Portuguese) & Veddahs 1%.
Buddhists - 67% of the population, Hindus - 15% of the population, Christians - 8% of the population, Muslims - 8% of the population.
Sinhala is the official language, Tamil is spoken by 18% of the population. English is used as a second language.
1 Sri Lankan Rupee consists of 100 cents. 195 Rupees is worth approximately £1.00 (Jan 2015)
Please do remember that Sri Lanka is a third world country and their health and safety is very different to that of the West. In particular:
For more than 25 years, Sri Lanka had had a conflict with the LTTE who wanted a separate state for the Tamils in the North and East of the country. A lot was written in the press in the UK as to how dangerous it was to travel to Sri Lanka, though it should be remembered, that throughout the conflict, not one single tourist was injured or killed. In May 2009, the LTTE were overthrown and peace has returned to the whole island. Sri Lanka is safer now than it has ever been.
Light cotton or linen clothing. It can be chilly in the hill country at night, so a sweater/microfleece is recommended. Shoulders and knees must be covered to enter temples. Would suggest you take socks to wear when entering temples as the ground can be very hot!
|1st Jan (Sun)||New Year's Day|
|12th Jan (Thurs)||Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day|
|14th Jan (Sat)||Tamil Thai Pongal Day|
|4th Feb (Wed)||National Day|
|10th Feb (Fri)||Navam Full Moon Poya Day|
|24th Feb (Fri)||Mahasivarathri Day|
|12th Mar (Sun)||Medin Full Moon Poya Day|
|10th Apr (Mon)||Bak Full Moon Poya Day|
|13th Apr (Thurs)||Day Prior to Sinhala and Tamil New Year Day|
|14th Apr (Fri)||Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Day|
|14th Apr (Fri)||Good Friday|
|1st May (Mon)||May Day|
|10th May (Wed)||Vesak Full Moon Poya Day|
|11th May (Thurs)||Day following Vesak Full Moon Poya Day|
|8th Jun (Sun)||Poson Full Moon Poya Day|
|26th Jun (Mon)||Id-Ul-Fitr (Ramadan Festival)|
|8th Jul (Sat)||Esala Full Moon Poya Day|
|7th Aug (Mon)||Nikini Full Moon Poya Day|
|1st Sept (Fri)||Id-Ul-Alha (Hadji Festival)|
|5th Sept (Tues)||Binara Full Moon Poya Day|
|5th Oct (Thurs)||Vap Full Moon Poya Day|
|18th Oct (Wed)||Deepvali Festival|
|3rd Nov (Fri)||ll Full Moon Poya Day|
|3rd Dec (Sun)||Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day|
|25th Dec (Sun)||Christmas Day|
Banks are generally open 9am to 3pm Mon-Fri. 24hr facilities at airport. All banks are shut at weekends and public holidays. ATMs accepting Visa and Mastercard are widely available in cities and towns.
Most international credit cards are accepted at major establishments including almost all major hotels.
Vehicles keep to the left. An international driving licence is required. A local driving licence is also required which can be obtained from the AA in Colombo.
230/240 volts AC. Small 3 pin round plugs are used as well as 2 pin plugs.