Sri Lanka at a glance

Sri Lanka is a tropical island nation set in the Indian Ocean, off the southern coast of India, in the Bay of Bengal.

Historically, Sri Lanka was known to travellers by a variety of names. The ancient Greeks called it Taprobane; the Arabs referred to it as Serendib (the origin of the word "serendipity"). It was also known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Ceilão, was the name given to it by the Portuguese when they arrived in 1505. As a British colony the island was known as Ceylon, until 1972, when the island was renamed Sri Lanka, meaning "resplendent island" in Sanskrit. She has a documented history that spans over 3,000 years. 

Sri Lanka is a diverse country - a multi ethnic and multi religious nation. It is the land of the SinhaleseSri Lankan TamilsMoorsIndian TamilsBurghers, Malays and the aboriginal Veddas. Sri Lanka has a rich Buddhist heritage, but more than a quarter of the population follow other faiths, notably Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.

 

 

Capital city (Administration)

Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte

 Official languages

Sinhalese, Tamil, English

Population

20,277,597

Government

Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic

President

Hon. Maithripala Sirisena

Prime Minister

Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe

Legislature

Parliament


Only a few places in the world can offer the traveller such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location. 

 

Within a mere area of  65,610 kilometres lie 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometres of coastline - much of it pristine beach - 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 350 waterfalls, 25,000 water bodies, to a culture that extends back to over 2,500 years... 

 

Culture - is influenced primarily by Buddhism and Hinduism. According to Islamic folklore, Adam and Eve were offered refuge on the island as solace for their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The Christian/catholic population who live mostly along the coastal belt, blend in harmoniously.
 

Geography - The island nation consists mostly of flat to rolling coastal plains, with mountains rising only in the south-central part. The highest point is Pidurutalagala, reaching 2,524 metres (8,281 ft) above sea level. The country has 103 rivers. The longest of these is the Mahaweli River, extending 335 kilometres (208 miles). These waterways give rise to 51 natural waterfalls of 100 meters or more. The highest is Bambarakanda Falls, with a height of 263 metres (863 ft).

 

Sri Lanka's coastline is 1,585 km long. It claims an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extending 200 nautical miles, which is approximately 6.7 times the country's land area. The coastline and adjacent waters support highly productive marine ecosystems such as fringing coral reefs and shallow beds of coastal and estuarine seagrasses. Sri Lanka has 45 estuaries and 40 lagoons.

 

Fauna and flora -Lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, Sri Lanka is one of 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Although the country is relatively small in size, it has the highest biodiversity density in Asia. Sri Lanka has declared 24 wildlife reserves, which are home to a wide range of native species.

 

Economy - Sri Lanka is a plantation economy, famous for its production and export of cinnamonrubber and Ceylon tea, which remains a trademark national export.

In the twelfth century, the explorer Marco Polo wrote that Sri Lanka was the finest island in the whole world.

 

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