Sri Lanka Tourist Info
Location & size
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.
Sri Lanka’s history
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 a unique journey to many of the historical and religious landmarks of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan population
The population is approximately 20 million made up as follows:-Sinhalese 74%, Tamil 8%, Muslim 7%, Burghers (descendants of Dutch & Portuguese) & Veddahs 1%.
Religions in Sri Lanka
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)
Your health & safety in Sri Lanka
- Hotels are not legally obliged to install ‘toughened’ or safety glass in their windows and doors
- Be aware of the height of balconies and their rails –
- At high viewpoints such as Sigiriya, World’s End etc, there are no guardrails at the edge (extreme caution is required)
- Swimming pool safety – children to be accompanied at all times, do not drink alcohol when swimming and do not take glasses to the pool
- Swimming on the beach – as above and do be aware there are strong currents around Sri Lanka
- Care crossing the road – the traffic is very unpredictable in Sri Lanka and buses and lorries will often not give way to pedestrians!
Terrorism – fact vs fiction (updated Jan 2015)
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.
What to wear in Sri Lanka
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!
Public Holidays in 2019
|15 Jan Tue||Tamil Thai Pongal Day|
|20 Jan Sun||Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day|
|4 Feb Mon||National Day|
|19 Feb Tue||Navam Full Moon Poya Day|
|4 Mar Mon||Mahasivarathri Day|
|20 Mar Wed||Madin Full Moon Poya Day|
|13 Apr Sat||Day Prior to Sinhala and Tamil New Year Day|
|14 Apr Sun||Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day|
|19 Apr Fri||Bak Full Moon Poya Day|
|1 May Wen||May Day|
|18 May Sat||Vesak Full Moon Poya Day|
|19 May Sun||Day following Vesak Full Moon Poya Day|
|5 Jun Wed||Id Ul-Fitr|
|12 Jun Sun||Poson Full Moon Poya Day|
|16 Jul Tue||Esala Full Moon Poya Day|
|12 Aug Mon||Id Ul-Alha|
|14 Aug Wen||Nikini Full Moon Poya Day|
|13 Sep Fri||Binara Full Moon Poya Day|
|13 Oct Sun||Vap Full Moon Poya Day|
|27 OCt Sun||Deepavali|
|10 Nov Sun||Milad un-Nabi|
|12 Nov Tue||Ill Full Moon Poya Day|
|11 Dec Wed||Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day|
|25 Dec Wen||Christmas Day|