Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an amazing country which combines past and present, different cultures and customs, wealth and poverty. It is a country of contrasts, interesting nature, wonderful beaches, dense forests and high mountains. People of different nationalities live here, but all are very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to Sri Lanka, the country is eagerly awaiting you!

Sri Lanka on a map

Sri Lanka on the map

Geographical location of the country

The blessed land, as the name Sri Lanka translates, lies at the south-eastern tip of the Indian Ocean on the Indian Ocean. It lies only seven degrees north of the equator.

The island of Sri Lanka is also known as Ceylon. It is a rather large island with an area of 65,000 square kilometres, which is close to the size of Sakhalin or Tasmania. In addition, hundreds of smaller islands are part of the Republic.

Its closest neighbour is India. India shares a maritime border with Sri Lanka. In the past, Ceylon was connected to India by a narrow isthmus. After an earthquake in 1481, the isthmus was destroyed, and now there is a chain of islands stretching from Ceylon to India: the so-called Adam’s Bridge.

Ceylon is predominantly a flat island, but there is a large mountain range in the southwest. There are a number of peaks over 2,000 metres high, including the famous Adam’s Peak.

Safety for tourists in Sri Lanka

Tourists have to take their own safety into account.

The climate can be dangerous for European tourists in the first place. The sun is hot, and it is easy to get a sunburn or injury from overexposure to the beach. The humid climate is also conducive to the spread of various infections and diseases, which can be picked up by consuming poor quality water, food, and contact with the locals and wildlife.

Pickpockets are another major danger. Pickpockets are plentiful here because a large part of the island’s population lives below the poverty line. Because of this, money and valuables have to be watched carefully. Serious crime is almost never committed here. However, there is still the after-effects of the civil war that has ravaged the island for so many years. Mines can be found in the ground here and there, and there is a lot of military presence.

Traffic in the republic is difficult, and few people abide by the rules. Tourists should be doubly careful in transport and at crossings.

There are many dangerous animals in Ceylon. Above all, these are poisonous snakes, which are widespread throughout the island. A few dozen people are killed each year by elephants, others are bitten by varanas and monkeys. Insects can carry dangerous diseases.

However, despite the dangers and with basic safety and hygiene, tourists can rest easy and without fear for their lives.


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Sri Lanka has a party atmosphere almost all year round. The locals seem to do nothing but party. And rightly so, in many ways. There are national holidays, official dates, and many religious ones, as the island is a melting pot of several religions.

There’s a full moon every month, an official weekend based on the lunar calendar and known as Poya.

Easter and Christmas, Ramadan and May Day are celebrated. New Year celebrations occupy a special place. They celebrate the usual New Year, the Tamil New Year, the Muslim New Year, the Sinhalese New Year, and Vesak, the day of the birth and passing into nirvana of Buddha Gautama.

There is also Independence Day, celebrated on February 4. On this day in 1948, the country gained its independence.

What fun things to do in Sri Lanka

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Although tourism is booming in the country and accounts for about 9% of the country’s GDP, the industry is still lagging behind global standards and has little to offer visitors to the island.

  1. Beach holidays. The island has an abundance of luxurious beaches, but not many tourist facilities. But simply soaking up the golden sand and watching the beautiful sunsets is a great pleasure.
  2. Water sports. For the outdoor enthusiast, the island offers the perfect opportunity to improve their skills or find a new one. There are plenty of diving, surfing, sailing, scuba diving and other activities.
  3. Trekking or hiking. There are some excellent hiking trails on the island, such as the Sinharaja rain forest and the Adam Peak hike.
  4. Cycling. A very popular tourist destination and one for which Sri Lanka has facilities. It can even offer a multi-day tour through the Sri Lankan countryside.
    Canoeing. Ceylon is quite a large island and there are many rivers, the largest being the
  5. Maheveli. It meanders through the mountain plateau, past tea plantations and beautiful hills, and discharges into the ocean.
  6. Rock climbing. Not the most popular holiday destination for tourists, but a number of companies offer this activity too. There are rather high and impassable mountains, climbing on which is worthy business for the most experienced climbers.
  7. Sightseeing. Sri Lanka is rich with monuments from ancient times. There are amazingly beautiful temples that are over a thousand years old. Including the sacred places of several world religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam.
  8. Safari. Ceylon has several national parks, which can be reached by jeep. For instance the Yala Park where you can see the life of wild elephants, leopards and other exotic animals.
  9. Whale and dolphin watching. In winter, the migration paths of these large marine mammals pass by the island. During this time you can watch blue whales, fin whales and sperm whales pass by Ceylon.
  10. Shopping. Sri Lanka has a lot of jewellery factories making jewellery from the world famous topaz and moonstone. In the local markets and shops there is a wide range of wood, leather and batik products. The island is famous for its balsams, aromatic oils and ayurvedic cosmetics.

What is important to know about Sri Lanka

If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka, here are some of the most important things to know:


The country has two official languages, Tamil and Sinhala.

Sinhalese is spoken by 16 million people, which makes up the majority of Sri Lanka’s population. Another 4 million people use the language as a second mother tongue.

Tamil is spoken in the northern part of the island, and is also spoken in southern India, where it is considered the second national language. In total, Tamil is spoken by 70 million people worldwide.

English is considered an inter-ethnic language by the local constitution.


Just over 21 million people currently live in Sri Lanka. The vast majority belong to the Sinhalese, an Indo-Aryan people. They account for 75% of the country. The Tamils constitute 11% of the island.

Other inhabitants are the Lankan Moors, the Burghers, descendants of mixed marriages between locals and Europeans, and the Veddas, remnants of Sri Lanka’s most ancient indigenous people.

More interesting facts about the Lankans, their character and local colour can be found in this article.


The national currency of the country is the rupee. It is divided into 100 cents.

The local currency is the currency of payment in the country, but tourists prefer to carry dollars or euros with them. They can be easily exchanged for local rupees at the airport or any bank. The exchange rate will be about the same.

The local banknotes are rather unusual, depicting representatives of the birds of the island.


The Singaporeans, the majority of whom on the island, are predominantly Buddhists, hence this religion holds the predominant position in the country. Buddhists account for about 70% of the island.

The Tamils are Hindus, about 12% of whom belong to this religion.

The Muslim community is well represented. Islam is practiced by more than 9 per cent. Christians constitute 7.5%, mostly Catholics.

The climate

The island has a sub equatorial monsoonal climate, with consistently hot weather and heavy rainfall. The average temperature throughout the year is between +29 and +32 degrees Celsius.

Sri Lanka has four distinct climatic seasons:

The north-east monsoon season. It begins in November and lasts until March. During this time, the island is at the mercy of the monsoons blowing from the Hindustan peninsula. They bring dry weather, with rainfall possible only in the northeast.

Spring. March and April. Monsoons cease, but thunderstorms and heavy rain showers begin. It is still short-lived, raining in the afternoon through the evening.

The southwest monsoon season. Starts in May and lasts until September. The wind blows from the Indian Ocean, bringing higher temperatures and heavier rainfall. Storms are frequent. Instead, the north-east of the island is dry and quiet.

Autumn. October and November. The monsoons are ending, with winds blowing from all directions and frequent rainfall, leading to flooding and landslides. This is the worst time to visit Sri Lanka.

Sea water temperature

The average seawater temperature in the Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka is +28 degrees Celsius. Due to its location almost on the very equator, there is little difference between winter and summer temperatures.

  • The water temperature in winter, December to January: +27 to +28 degrees Celsius.
  • Water temperature in spring, March to May: +28 to +29 degrees.
  • Water temperature in summer, June to July: +28 to +29 degrees Celsius.
  • Autumn water temperature, September to November: +26 to +28 degrees Celsius.

Natural disasters

The Indian Ocean causes the island’s main problems. It is rarely calm at these latitudes, and therefore storms are common in Sri Lanka. They peak in the autumn months of October and November, but are also possible at any other time of year.

Persistent and heavy rainfall can lead to flooding and, in the mountainous areas, to landslides. Occasionally these disasters can be catastrophic and result in many deaths.

Tsunamis are a major threat to the island. Ceylon’s coast is not protected from waves by coral reefs, unlike many other islands of the Indian Ocean. This causes considerable destruction and casualties during tsunamis. This was the case in 2004, during the most catastrophic tsunami of the past hundred years.

Tsunamis are a major threat to the island. Ceylon’s coastline is not protected from waves by coral reefs, unlike many other Indian Ocean islands. This causes considerable damage and loss of life during tsunamis. This was the case in 2004, during the most catastrophic tsunami of the past hundred years.

The island is situated in a seismically inactive region, belonging geologically to the Deccan Plateau in India. Earthquakes are rare here and, as a rule, are not of great magnitude. However, earthquakes are not uncommon in many neighbouring regions and can be dangerous for Sri Lankans. The 2004 tsunami, for instance, came just after a large earthquake struck off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Forest fires are uncommon on the island.

You can read about the most destructive disasters in Sri Lankan history in this article.

Political system

Sri Lanka is a mixed republic governed by a president and parliament. The president is elected for 6 years, is the head of government and the supreme commander in chief. But he may be impeached by Parliament.

The parliament is unicameral, consisting of 225 members. It makes laws and can be dissolved by the president.

Sri Lanka is divided into nine provinces. Since 1982 the official capital of the country has been Sri Jayawardenepura-Kotte. It is a suburb of Colombo and the seat of parliament.

Major cities and resorts

Colombo is the largest city and the unofficial capital of the country. It is home to 700,000 people and the metropolitan area has a population of over 6 million. It is the centre of the island’s business and financial activity and is home to Colombo International Airport, through which most tourists arrive. There are several beautiful Buddhist temples, colonial and modern buildings, museums and monuments.

Chillau is a west coast resort about 60 kilometres from Colombo airport. It is known for its beaches and blue lagoon. The attraction of the resort is the thousand-year-old Hindu temple Munneswaram. Crabs are found in abundance here, as well as a wide variety of seafood.

Kalutara is another west coast resort. It’s a paradise for water sports enthusiasts like surfing, diving and scuba diving. The fine, golden sand on the beach is a joy to walk on. The resort offers many architectural landmarks, like temples, stupas, and a castle.

Hikkaduwa is one of the most popular resorts in Sri Lanka. The best hotels are located here and the main street stretches right along the beach. Known for its coral reserve, making it an ideal place for diving.

Trincomalee is a new tourist destination that has been developing widely in recent years. It’s an east coast resort with beautiful beaches and exotic vegetation, but there’s still not much to do for fans of the buzzing nightlife and shopping. But it does have islands with coral reefs where you can go scuba diving.

Symbols of Sri Lanka

Tea is the unofficial symbol and pride of the island. Ceylon tea has always been considered one of the finest in the world and is still very much appreciated by tea drinkers.

Paradise on Earth – it is here that Adam’s footprints are located, where he first touched the ground after his expulsion from Eden. However, Buddhists believe that this is the footprint of Buddha.

The elephant is a sacred animal in this country. There is even a nursery for elephants who have lost their parents.

Star Lotus – symbolises truth, purity and self-control.

The lion with a sword is the symbol of the first monarch who established Buddhism as the dominant religion in Ceylon.

How to get to Sri Lanka

Almost the only way for a tourist to arrive in Sri Lanka is at Bandaranaike Airport, located 30 km from Colombo. Airliners from all over the world, from all major airlines, arrive here. Many flights are operated by local airlines. Most flights connect Sri Lanka with India, the UAE, the Maldives and Singapore.

A railway ferry service connects Sri Lanka to India. It runs parallel to the Adam’s Bridge, a chain of islets between the two countries. But this is the only way into the republic from India.

Cruise liners connect Ceylon with a number of Indian Ocean states – India, Singapore, the UAE, the Maldives. But this is more of a separate type of holiday than a way to get to Sri Lanka.

How much money to take with you

It is believed that a holiday in Sri Lanka can be very cheap, but this is not entirely true. Yes, compared with European countries or the Emirates, the holiday here will be considerably cheaper. But at the same time, the prices on the island are higher than in the neighboring India or Vietnam.

The cost of a package for two people at the resorts of the country will cost an average of $1500 for seven days. Depending on the star hotel, its location and additional services, the maximum price can be considerably higher.

In the country itself, tourists are charged as follows:

  • Meals: $50-100 when eating at fast-food joints and cafes, a little more expensive will be lunch in restaurants.
  • Sightseeing: 20 dollars, many museums and interesting places can be visited practically free of charge, for symbolical money.
  • Waterparks, entertainment, excursions: from USD 50 to 250 per person.
  • Souvenirs: from USD 50 to 200.
  • Transportation: Depending on whether you wish to travel by train, bus or tuk-tuk, this may represent a weekly expense of USD 20 to 70.

So, with an allowance for contingencies, a holiday in Sri Lanka for two people would cost between US$500 and $1500 for 7 days. And of course, the maximum amount of a holiday can be much higher.


If you have already visited the country, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words about what you liked most about the country, what moments you can remember forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

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