Sometimes, you see a beautiful picture and wanderlust immediately kicks in. You start dreaming of being there and indulging in everything the place has to offer while having the most amazing time of your life! Sri Lanka is one such paradise. Sprawling beaches, laidback vibes, white sands gently getting kissed by waters from the Indian Ocean, herds and herds of slow-moving elephants, perpetually enthusiastic people, tender coconuts on a perfect tropical afternoon, sunsets views that restore hope in life, vibrant food and delicacies and poignant backdrops and scenic locations, Sri Lanka is a vibrant paradise on earth.
With legends and stories from the Indian epic the Ramayana filling the air and with ruins and heritage sites to support them, Sri Lanka is one of the best neighboring countries to plan your vacation. Imagine the perfect getaway you’ve been waiting for all through your work year, looking to soak yourself in sands of joy and lay back to listen to the symphony of the oceans with your favorite cocktail in hand, Sri Lanka is one destination where all your travel goals and dreams will come true. What looks like a piece of a gem on the map is also one for travelers and tourists seeking solace in nature and all the beautiful things it has to offer. Sri Lanka is that piece of desert that you have after fighting your inhibitions on dieting. It is rewarding, satisfying and takes seconds to touch your soul and connect with it. Get yourself insured by the Best Travel Insurance for Asia at Thomas Cook.
Sinhala and Tamil
Sri Lankan Rupee
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee
Population: 20, 876, 917
Time Zone: Sri Lankan Standard Time UTC + 5:30
Area: 65, 610 square kilometers
Official Language: Sinhala and Tamil
Capital’s Calling Code: +94
The shape of Sri Lanka resembles a jewel, located at 5o 10oN and 79o 82oE. It is an island-country that is surrounded by the mighty Indian Ocean. Geographically, Sri Lanka was part of the Indian-Australian plate that got separated due to the evolution in the geographic plates. India is separated from Sri Lanka by Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar. The Hindu mythology reveals of a bridge that existed up to the early 15th century that connected India and Sri Lanka by land until series of devastating cyclones submerged the bridge that was actually passable on foot.
The topography of Sri Lanka is mostly flat, with mountains rising only in the southern region of the country. Pidurutalagala is Sri Lanka’s highest point which measures an altitude of approximately 2,600 meters above sea level. So you can image the stretch of plains through the country. Sri Lanka is also gifted with the best of nature with its 103 rivers. The river Mahaweli is the longest of the rivers in Sri Lanka, flowing for a distance of around 335 kilometers. Thanks to this endless stretch, the river gives rise over 51 waterfalls, which measure more than 10 meters. The country enjoys a coastline of over 1,500 kilometers, 40 lagoons, mangrove covers for more than 7,000 hectares and is home to some of the best marine ecosystem.
Apart from being rich in natural ecosystems, Sri Lanka is also rich in history. The history of the country can be traced back to over 500,000 years and finds mentioning during Mesolithic, Paleolithic and Iron ages. Pahiyangalas, one of the earliest settlements in Sri Lanka find significance in history for the fact that they belong to the Paleolithic age and evidences from archeological surveys suggest that they were anatomically modern and intelligent. Their engagement in agriculture during such early ages and their intelligence to domesticate dogs and use them to protect their fields from game reveals the evolution of their settlement.
Besides, Sri Lanka also plays a crucial role in the Ramayana, where Ravana dethroned Kubera, his stepbrother and god of wealth, and took possession of the beautiful island. Ravana is also credited for building a flying machine and having Wariyapola as his airport. It is with this flying machine that he reached India and kidnapped Sita, wife of Lord Rama, paving way for the epic to unfold.
One of the early inhabitants of the country are considered to be the ancestors of indigenous people called the Veddas, who now number to approximately 2,500 in Sri Lanka today. The country has witnessed invasions, colonization and evolutions to become what it is today. It is rich history gives rise to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The country which is similar in size to Ireland is diverse in terms of its ethnicity and linguistics. The current population of Sri Lanka is around 20,876,917 and ranks 58 amongst the world’s most populated countries. With a land area of over 62,000 square kilometers, the population density of Sri Lanka numbers to approximately 333 per square kilometer.
The country has a median age of 32.7 years and has approximately 20% of the population being urban. Studies suggest that the population of Sri Lanka is anticipated to exceed 21 million by the year 2020. Sri Lanka’s demographics has a population percentage of 49.3% and 50.7% of male and female respectively.
Sri Lanka is a very diverse country and its growth and evolution are all results of the combined efforts and aspirations of the locals from different backgrounds. Sri Lanka was ranked 3rd in the most religious countries in the world in a poll organized by the Gallup poll in 2008. The country is inhabited by people from diverse religions like Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Theravada Buddhists.
Buddhism is the predominantly followed religion, where close to 70% of the entire population are Buddhists. This is followed by Hinduism and Islam, sharing 12.6% and 9.7% of the population respectively. In Christianity, 6.1% of Sri Lankans are Roman Catholics and 1.3% fall under diverse sects.
Ethnically, Sri Lanka has two major communities –the Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan Tamils. Concentrated in the regions of southwest and centre, the Sinhalese Tamils constitute 75% of the population. Around 11.9% of the population comprises of the Sri Lankan Tamils, making them the nation’s largest minority. Sinhalese and Tamil are Sri Lanka’s official languages with English considered as a link. Sri Lanka uses English predominantly for commercial, education and scientific purposes.
Besides, people from the Burgher community can speak Dutch and Portuguese Creole and Malay people can speak Creole Malay, which adds uniqueness to the island country.
The Sri Lankan Rupee is the official currency of Sri Lanka and converts approximately at Rs. 0.42 per Indian Rupee. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka issues the country’s currency and has two classified forms for transactions – coins and currency notes.
The denominations available for coins include Rs. 1, 2, 5 and 10 with Rs. 0.25 and Rs. 0.50 being rarely used. The currency notes are available in the denominations of Rs. 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 with Rs. 10, 200 and 2000 being rarely used currencies. Indian Rupee is invalid in Sri Lanka and it is best to convert INR to Sri Lankan Rupee before traveling for best experience of tourism in Sri Lanka.
Cost and Money
One of the best aspects about Sri Lanka is that it is a destination for all types of travelers. From travelers on a shoestring budget to honeymoon couples who intend to spend lavishly on their experience, Sri Lanka offers equal value for both. If you are planning for a destination wedding, Sri Lanka can be the perfect spot for that magical moment too! Depending on which you city you intend to stay and what activity you want to indulge in, you can find suitable accommodation in proximity to them.
To get an idea, you can find accommodations at beach hotels, backpacker hostels and resorts at prices depending on season and availability. There are rooms starting at Rs. 1000 for a night, going all the way up to Rs. 30,000 per night. The higher th e price, the more facilities and pampering you get offered. The onset of backpacker hostels in various cities of Sri Lanka has also led to tourists from around the globe coming in for their holidays. If you are a traveler, you can find accommodations at one of the hostels at an approximate price range of Rs. 500 for a night for a dorm bed. The hotels are world class and offer the best of basic facilities. Wi-Fi is usually free in all accommodations and most places accept credit cards. Being a hub, Sri Lanka tourism ensures that are adequate ATMs in all important and prime centers in the city. From international to regional banks, money will not be a problem for as long as you are in Sri Lanka.