TOP-50 interesting facts about Sri Lanka and Lankans

Sri Lanka is a South Asian country with many similarities to its neighbouring countries. At the same time, however, it is a unique country with its own customs, history and culture. Here’s a list of 50 great facts about the country and its people that’ll help you get a first impression of Sri Lanka and plan your perfect holiday.

The 50 most amazing facts about Sri Lankans and Sri Lanka

So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.

Historical Facts

1. The first humans appeared on the island about 120 thousand years ago. They came here by land bridge, which at that time connected Sri Lanka and India.

2. The Veddas are the original inhabitants of Ceylon. There are now just over 2,000 Veddas left.

3. The Sinhalese arrived at the island in the 6th century B.C. and founded the first Lankan state, Tambalanni.

4. Buddhism begins to spread on the island in the 3rd century B.C. Since then it becomes the main religion here.

5. In the 10th century A.D. the Blessed Land, as the name of Sri Lanka is translated, is inhabited by the Tamils. They settle in isolated communities in the north of the island. The Tamils practise Hinduism.

6. The European colonization of the Island began in the 16th century. First settled by the Portuguese, later by the Dutch and finally by the British.

7. The Dominion of Ceylon became an independent state in 1948, but remained dependent on Britain for a long time. It was not until 1956 that English ceased to be the official language and the military alliance with Britain was broken.

7. From 1983 to 2009 Sri Lanka was shaken by civil war. The Tamils have attempted to organise their own independent state in the north of the island, with government forces actively discouraging them from doing so.

7. Tamil terrorists have gained notoriety. It was they who assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, aiding the Lankan government with troops.

8. There is no tranquillity in this country in recent years either. Terrorist attacks, low cost of living protests, pandemic and other nuisances continue to plague Sri Lanka.

9. Sri Lanka has had various names over its long history: Tambalanni, Lanka, Taprobana, Sarandib, Ceylon. The present name was given to the island in 1972.

Sri Lanka today

10. The country has two capitals: the official one is Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, where the Parliament of the Republic is located, and the unofficial one is Colombo, where the President and Government reside.

11. The country is home to over 21 million people, most of whom are Sinhalese. The Tamils are the second largest ethnic group on the island. They account for about 11%.

12. The Sinhalese are mostly Buddhists, while the Tamils are Hindus. This often masks divisions between neighbouring peoples. Islam and Christianity are also prevalent on the island.

13. Many pagan beliefs have also survived on the island. The locals still believe that every mountain has a demon god that they continue to worship.

14. In modern schools on the island, mythical lore is still taught as part of the nation’s history.

Ланкийские школьники

15. Education in local schools is free, so the country has one of the highest literacy rates in Asia. But the quality of education leaves a lot to be desired.

16. Sri Lanka is a poor country. Average per capita income is only 70 dollars a month. Meanwhile, it is the country that mines a lot of rubies and blue sapphires, and it ranks fourth in the world in tea production.

17. In 2021, the largest sapphire in the world was found in the country. It weighed 510 kilograms and was worth over $200 million.


18. Sigiriya or Lion’s Rock. A monolith 370 metres high, set in the middle of a green-covered plain. At its summit are the ruins of a palace, but it is not easy to reach – the last stage of the climb is a narrow staircase that is attached directly to the rock.


19. The town of Halle has a well-preserved Dutch fort with a lighthouse and bastions. There is now a museum here.

20. One of the most ancient sights is considered Anuradhapura which was once a capital city. A number of Buddhist stupas, the ruins of a royal palace, a cave temple and a sacred Mahabodhi tree have been preserved there.

21. Another ancient capital, Kandy, has a sacred Temple of the Buddha’s Tooth. It was built especially to store the precious relic. Buddhists believe that if the sacred Tooth disappears, the end of their faith will come.

Пещерный храм Дамбулла

22. The unique temple complex at Dambulla is also an important attraction on the island. There are five cave temples adorned with Buddha statues.

23. The island’s most famous nature park, Yala, is located in the southeast. It is famous for leopards, elephants and other animals which you can see on safari.

24. The town of Peradeniya is home to the famous Botanical Gardens, one of the largest in the world. More than 4,000 different species of plants are planted here. The Spice Garden occupies a special place.

25. Not far from Matara is the famous Howling Hole, a rock by the sea into which the surf sometimes penetrates to form a fountain. The locals believe it is the spirit of a fisherman turned into a whale for excessive greed.

Character and Traditions of the Lankans

26. The locals are very romantic but also like to brag. While talking about themselves, the Lankans will definitely recall some story about a heroic deed they performed.

27. The Lankans are very practical people. They love money and are always looking for some kind of benefit for themselves, even just by giving the tourist the right address. Cheating tourists is in their order.

На улицах в Шри-Ланке

28. The Lankans are friendly, smiling and fun-loving people. They love noisy celebrations with lots of guests, and you can often see them dancing to music on the bus.

29. There are 4 official holidays, but every full moon is also a day off, meant for meditation. The full moons are called Poya.

30. People are often seen on local festivals wearing scary masks of demons or animals. These masks are used to ward off demons and give confidence.

31. The national garment for women is a sari, but local men often wear skirts.

32. Also, the locals are very gambling. They participate in all kinds of lotteries and have great faith in their luck.

33. The institution of marriage is very strong in the country. People are believed to marry forever, and there is a very negative attitude towards divorce. Lankan families usually have four or more children.

34. The wife only takes care of the household and bringing up the children, while the husband is obliged to provide for the family.

35. Lankans do not like to sunbathe. Their white skin is considered a standard of beauty, and they are similar in mentality to many other Asian peoples.

36. The Lankans drink a lot of alcohol, preferring beer and the local arak (coconut moonshine). The prices of alcohol in the country are very high, and therefore the best gift for a Lankan is a bottle of good wine.

37. Generally speaking, the Lankans are very hospitable and often invite visitors. Lunch at their house is always plentiful, but it is not customary to leave an empty plate behind. It is considered as a sign that you are not full and want more.

38. It is customary in Lankan homes to eat with the hands, but only the right hand can be used. The left hand is considered dirty and is used for hygienic procedures.

39. The food on the island is very spicy and the portions are huge. Spices are also added in large quantities.

40. Meanwhile, the Lankans are very fond of ice cream; it is considered the most popular dessert here.

41. There is no such thing as ecology among the locals. They throw rubbish in the streets and when there is a lot of it, they simply burn it.


42. The climate of the island is shaped by the monsoon. The winter monsoon blows from Hindustan and brings dry weather. Summer monsoons from the Indian Ocean bring heavy rainfall.

43. The most revered animal on the island is the elephant. A special subspecies of the Asian elephant, the Ceylon elephant, lives here. At present, the number of its inhabitants is around 6,000.

44. The Pinnavel is the final resting place for baby elephants, rescued from the jungle and left without their parents. About 60 baby elephants are raised here.

45. The country has the highest density of elephants per number of inhabitants, leading to inevitable clashes. Every year, dozens of Lankans die from encounters with elephants.

46. Tea is the pride of the Sri Lankans. Its plantations are a must-see for tourists. But historically, tea bushes didn’t grow here. They were brought to the island by the British in the 19th century.

Звездный лотос

47. The star lotus is another floral symbol of the country. It became the national flower in 1986. However, the plant itself is not a lotus, but belongs to the lily of the sea.

48. From Sri Lanka to India stretches a narrow chain of islets and cliffs called Adam’s Bridge. According to some reports, it was crossed as early as the early 15th century. It is reported by Arab geographers.

49. According to Islamic tradition, Adam walked across this bridge to Eve as he left the place of exile from paradise. Hindus consider the bridge the work of Rama and the army of monkeys that went to Sri Lanka to fight the demon Ravana.

50. One of the highest peaks on the island, Sri Pada or Butterfly Mountain, is also called Adam’s Peak. On its summit is the footprint of a human foot. Buddhists believe it is the footprint of Buddha. Muslims believe that Adam, who was expelled from Eden, marked it.


Friends! If you know more interesting facts about Lankans and Sri Lanka, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many would love to learn something new. We would be very grateful!

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