Sri Lanka, the charming island in the Indian Ocean is indeed one of the major tourist attractions in the world. So, you might sometimes be planning to arrive in this splendid country. However it is, if you are awaiting to get to know about Sri Lanka, this read is surely going to help you a lot. Here we are, sharing with you all the important and interesting facts that you should know about Sri Lanka. Indeed, traveling with facts surely helps you when traveling in a country like Sri Lanka. So, continue reading and enlighten yourself!
Other Names for Sri Lanka
Guess what! Most of these names that people use to introduce Sri Lanka have a connection with the Indian Ocean. That is simply because this island is located amidst the waves of the Indian Ocean.
Due to the unexplainable beauty of Sri Lanka, it is famous as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. Moreover, Sri Lanka is very rich in natural resources. Also, due to the large-scale export of gemstones and pearls, it is fair to call Sri Lanka by this name.
Additionally, Sri Lanka is famous as the ‘Teardrop of India’. And yes, you guessed it right! Sri Lanka got this name due to the unique shape of a teardrop, and its location on the world map, just underneath India.
Besides, Sri Lanka was popular in the world in many names in the past, especially during the colonial period. The major reason behind these various names was the foreign traders of different nationalities who arrived in Sri Lanka those days. Arabs referred to Sri Lanka as ‘Serendib’. It was the European mapmakers who named Sri Lanka ‘Ceylon’. This name is still used for different purposes. Apart from that, Sri Lanka was named ‘Taprobane’, in Ptolemy’s world map, which is considered as the first world map in history.
Further, the historical chronicles use some other names to introduce this country. The name ‘Lanka’ is in Ramayana. Moreover, names such as ‘Lankadeepa’, ‘Lakdiva’, and ‘Lakbima’ were also popular names for this island in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, Sri Lanka is addressed as “Hela bima” which means the land or ‘helas’ or Sinhalese. Back in the 5th century, Prince Vijaya from India named Sri Lanka ‘Tambapanni’.
However, Sri Lanka is the current name of this country. This name was in use from 1972.
National Symbols in Sri Lanka
Each and every country has a set of symbols that reveal to the world the national identity. Similarly, Sri Lanka too has some valuable national symbols that themselves reveal some important facts about this country. They are as follows.
- National Anthem in Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka Matha~
- National Flower in Sri Lanka: Blue Water Lily ((Nymphaea nouchali))
- The National Tree in Sri Lanka: Ceylon Ironwood (Mesua ferrea)
- National Bird in Sri Lanka: Ceylon Jungle Fowl (Gallus lafayetii)
- National Butterfly: Sri Lankan Birdwing (Troides darsius)
- The National Sport in Sri Lanka: Volleyball
- National Gemstone: Blue Sapphire
Capital of Sri Lanka
Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is the administrative capital of Sri Lanka and Colombo is considered the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Both these cities are situated nearby, and Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte belongs to the Colombo district.
Ethnicities in Sri Lanka
As you may already know, Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic country. Communities belonging to the following ethnicities live in harmony in this country, shading the Sri Lankan culture with the values of their own.
Religions in Sri Lanka
People belonging to different ethnicities follow the philosophies of various religious leaders and practice different religions. The most practiced religions in Sri Lanka are as follows.
Languages Used in Sri Lanka
Sinhala and Tamil are the two national languages in Sri Lanka. However, even in the same language, there may be slight differences across the regions.
Besides, it is important to note that the people in rural villages may not be very well familiar with the English language due to the lack of exposure they have. So, you will have to use hand signals and gestures to communicate with someone if you feel like they don’t understand what you say. Still, Sri Lankans in urban areas, and the people living around tourist attractions have the ability to communicate in English most of the time. Therefore, we are sure that no communication issue would come up as long as you are familiar with the English language.
Sri Lankan People
Let us assure you that Sri Lankan people are just amazing. They would welcome you with smiling faces and generous hearts and delight you with their wonderful hospitality. However, if you are planning to visit Sri Lanka or like to know about this tiny Island, it is important to know the signs and gestures that are common among Sri Lankan people.
First things first! Sri Lankans often waggle their heads sideways. This pendulum swing of the head implies the answer “yes”. Anyways this can also be an implication of “do you agree”. In many other countries nodding the head means yes and shaking the head side to side implies no. However, in Sri Lanka sometimes the opposite of this happens. So, once in a while, you may find it confusing to understand the gestures of these people.
Besides, a larger share of the Sri Lankan population lives in rural areas, and religion plays a prominent role in the lives of the Sri Lankan people. However, as you might already know, there are four main ethnicities living in Sri Lanka, and they belong to several other religions. So, the cultural values, family traditions, food culture, festivals, and even how they dress and talk may change from area to area.
Also, Sri Lankans have a unique way of greeting. This is an integral part of Sri Lankan culture and tradition. Sri Lankans put their hands together (hands kept together as in a worshipping position) and say Ayubowan. This is a formal way of saying hello, and it gives the meaning of wishing for long life.
Currency of Sri Lanka
The currency of Sri Lanka is Sri Lankan Rupees (SLR). Of course, US Dollars (USD) can be used in certain places in the country, but the chances are very rare. So, it is always better to convert your foreign currency into Sri Lankan Rupees, as soon as you arrive in Sri Lanka. While credit card facilities are available in urban areas, most of the shops in rural areas do not have these facilities. Hence, when you travel to Sri Lanka, it is always better to keep extra money in your hand, in case of emergency. However, ATM machines are available in major cities island-wide. You can get to know about all the facts related to the banking industry in Sri Lanka, through the counters of different banks at the Sri Lankan Airport.
Transportation in Sri Lanka
Of course, there is a lot to explore around Sri Lanka, and getting around this splendid island is never an issue at all. In fact, there is nothing wrong with mentioning that Sri Lanka owns a good transportation system.
The state provides public transportation, and people also use private transportation according to their preferences and requirements. The bus service and the train service are the major aspects of the public transportation system in Sri Lanka, and they cater to travelers at a very low cost. Still, certain issues related to comfort, and timely service can be seen within these public services.
However, travelers can also use private transportation to reach their destination, and it is surely going to cost considerably high. Yet, the comfort and the ease it offers in adjusting to your plans make it a highly convenient transportation option. Besides, Taxi services on call, tuk-tuk services, and ride-hailing apps also hold major roles in the transportation sector of Sri Lanka. Also, it is important to note that private entities run domestic flight services within the country based on a few tourist attractions. Still using domestic flights is not a common option on this island, owing to its high cost, and limited opportunities.
Weather and Climate
Sri Lanka is blessed with a pleasant tropical climate. Hence, this country’s climate mainly shifts between the wet and dry seasons. The temperature in Sri Lanka’s coastal areas ranges from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius on average. The highlands of Sri Lanka have an average temperature of 15-18 degrees Celsius.
Two monsoons bring rain to this island, and the rainy season differs from one region to the other. So, it is always better to check the weather and climate of the area you plan to visit, during the time that you plan your trip. The official website of the Department of Meteorology will help you with getting facts about the weather and climate of Sri Lanka.
Facts about the Major Exports of Sri Lanka
From the olden days, Sri Lanka was famous for trade. And yes, the interest that the country has in trade still continues, and Sri Lanka ranks top in exports with regard to several fields. However, the major exports of this country at the moment are tea, coconut, and rubber.
If you are a tea lover Sri Lanka is simply one of the best countries for you to visit. As you might already know, tea was introduced to Sri Lanka by the British colonizers. The tea plantations began during the colonial era, and with no time, Ceylon tea became very famous all over the world. And yes, the popularity that Ceylon Tea gained, still remains the same. Accordingly, Sri Lanka ranks as the fourth largest exporter of tea, and every year Sri Lanka earns a large income from the tea export. So, if you visit Sri Lanka make sure to visit the Ceylon tea museum, a tea factory, and to taste a cup of Ceylon Tea.
Coconut plantations are common in Sri Lanka, and it happens to be one of the major exports from Sri Lanka as well. As you might already know, the coconut tree is simply a treasure trove. From the coconut nut to the husk, to the shell, everything has some sort of use. Especially, the choir industry happens on a large scale in Sri Lanka, and contributes to the exports, owing to the presence of coconut in the country. Likewise, there are many export fields that flourish related to the coconut plantations in Sri Lanka.
Rubber is also considered one of the major exports from Sri Lanka. If we consider history, rubber plantations are also an inheritance of colonization. However, the rubber industry still remains strong in the country, and thus, Sri Lanka exports rubber in both raw and value-added forms.
The Incredible Bio-diversity in Sri Lanka
Of course, Sri Lanka is well-known for its rich bio-diversity. The wide array of wildlife species, pleasant weather, and climate, as well as the wonderful eco-systems it houses, are major reasons behind this factor. Even though Sri Lanka is small in size, facts in various reports reveal that it contains 433 species of birds, 245 species of spiders, 96 species of snakes, and 15 species of tarantulas including many species of butterflies. However, owing to this significance, many tourists, especially nature lovers, chose to visit Sri Lanka.
Among the attractions that the tourists visit, the following national parks rank the top.
- Yala National Park
- Minneriya National Park
- Udawalawe National Park
- Wasgamuwa National Park
- Horton Plains National Park
- Kaudulla National Park
It is such an amazing experience to go around these parks on a safari jeep to observe the wildlife, up-close and personal. Sri Lanka is a popular travel destination to watch Asian elephants. There are around 7500 elephants in Sri Lanka, and you can spot many of them in the above national parks.
Besides, we can never forget the Sinharaja Rainforest when talking about the rich biodiversity in Sri Lanka. Simply, it is known as the biodiversity hotspot in the country, owing to the extensive range of wildlife species, birdlife, and the trees and plants it houses. While walking through the Sinharaja Forest in Sri Lanka travelers can reach nature to the fullest level. Besides, the streams that rhythmically flow through the greenery of this forest, make trekking out there more interesting.
Sacred Mountain in Sri Lanka!
The sacred mountain in Sri Lanka is none other than Adam’s peak. It is located in central Sri Lanka. This is also famous as the Sri Pada.
This wonderful mountain has many significant cultural values. In fact, Adam’s peak symbolizes the unity of all four major religions on this small island. Buddhists believe that the Lord Buddha’s footprint is visible at the summit of this mountain. Meanwhile, Tamil Hindus believe that it is the footprint of Lord Shiva. Muslims and Christians believe that it is the footprint of Adam. Therefore, pilgrims of all religions, from all around the world visit this place. Moreover, even Marco Polo has notified this as a religious place back in 1298.
Many pilgrims start climbing the mountain at night in order to watch the sunrise in the morning. However, in the pilgrim season (December to April) a large number of pilgrims climb this mountain. So during this season, there is a huge crowd in this area. Emergency medical camps and first aid camps are erected in order to assist pilgrims.
Adam’s peak stands 797 ft tall. Besides, this sacred mountain is surrounded by beautiful creations of mother nature. In fact, there is a very beautiful view on top of this mountain. So, through the picturesque beauty, Adam’s peak has been able to attract many tourists. It takes about 2-4 hours to reach the top of the mountain. However, this differs depending on the fitness, crowd, and breaks.
When you reach towards the top of the mountain the environment is very cool. Therefore climbing this mountain is interesting and enjoyable. Simply, for those who are interested in hiking and nature trips Adam’s peak is the best place for a visit, here in Sri Lanka!
Little England in Sri Lanka!
From the past, Nuwara Eliya has been the best holiday retreat for many foreigners as well as the locals. And guess the reason why it is called ‘Little England’! It is simply because of the relaxing cold climate that it offers amidst the scenic environment. Further, the colonial-style buildings and houses in this city take you down memory lane to the colonial era, while adding more facts to make it a ‘Little England’!
Besides, the natural landscape of Nuwaraeliya is designed in a way that attracts travelers. The mountainous surrounding, alluring greenery, and the amazing waterfalls have the power of making anyone surprised with their charms. Also, Nuwara Eliya is famous for tea plantations. Additionally Hakgala Botanical Garden, Horton Plains National Park, Gregory Lake, and Sita temple are also famous tourist attractions in this charming mountain town.
Once you visit Nuwara Eliya you have many wonderful things to do. Engaging in train rides, engaging in sports like golf, hiking, and visiting religious places may top your list of activities. However, as a traveler, you should never forget to row a boat in Gregory lake. Further, there are a large number of hotels and restaurants to enjoy your stay at Nuwara Eliya.
After all, if you visit Nuwara Eliya once there is a greater chance for you to visit there again. You will feel lucky as a traveler to travel to such an amazing vacation spot!
The Sacred Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka
Whoever visits Kandy will never forget to visit the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic or the ‘Dalada Maligawa’. It is the building complex that houses Lord Buddha’s left Tooth Relic, and thus, popular around the world as a major religious attraction of Buddhists. Besides, the unique architectural features of this white building complex, its historical values, as well as the murals, and structures that belong to the Kandyan era, make this place more special, and popular. Also, the Kandy lake which surrounds the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic adds splendid beauty to this wonderful attraction.
A large number of devotees visit the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic daily. Whoever visits Dalada Maligawa can get a glimpse of Buddhist rituals and customs. Daily rituals are conducted there, and every Wednesday symbolic bathing of the Tooth relic takes place. Every August a procession is organized in order to honor the tooth relic. It is famous as the Kandy Esala Perahera. This is one of the greatest and most glamorous occasions for the Sri Lankan Buddhists, and indeed one of the most alluring festivals held in Sri Lanka.
UNESCO named this precious place as a world heritage in the year 1988.
The Oldest Human Planted Tree in Sri Lanka
History reveals that this is the sapling of the Bo Tree in India, under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Theri Sanghamitta brought this Bo Sapling to Sri Lanka, and it was planted in this place, during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa.
As per records, this bo tree was planted in 288 BC and is 2300 years old. Due to the religious importance of this tree, it is named the ficus religiosa. A large number of Buddhists travel to Anuradhapura in order to pay homage to the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree.
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya becomes heavily crowded with devotees on the poya days. Besides, Sri Lankan Buddhists have made it a practice to visit Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya before any special occasion in their lives. By doing this, they seek blessings from the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya. Apart from Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya, there are many other historical and religious places in Anuradhapura. So, while visiting this historical and sacred treasure, you can also pay a visit to the several other religious and cultural attractions that are located close by.
Spices from Sri Lanka
According to history, spices from Sri Lanka have been popular around the world from the time of ancient kingdoms. However, among many spices in Sri Lanka such as pepper, cardamom, coriander, ginger, etc., Cinnamon, gained the most popularity.
The reasons behind this popularity are the freshness, excellent quality, color, and aroma of Ceylon cinnamon. In fact, Cinnamon has become an indispensable spice when making cakes and other sweets. Besides, the Cinnamon that Sri Lanka exports is a major ingredient for perfumes as well. So, at present, Cinnamon from Sri Lanka is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry and for the cosmetic industry.
Due to the fact that many other products are produced out of cinnamon, cinnamon has become one of the most prominent and valuable spices from Sri Lanka. Egyptians were the ones who discovered the abundance of cinnamon in Sri Lanka in 2000 BC. Facts in reports reveal that it is Sri Lanka that provides the world with the largest amount of cinnamon, which is 80-90% of the total consumption at present. So, there is nothing wrong with mentioning that Sri Lanka serves as a home to cinnamon.
In the past cinnamon was grown in central highlands but now it is expanded to western and southern parts of the country.
Besides, Sri Lanka’s economy is highly strengthened by the cinnamon trade. Many foreign traders travel many miles in order to purchase Ceylon Cinnamon. 1kg of Cinnamon is sold at a price that ranges between SLR 4000 – 6000. Further, Sri Lanka annually exports Cinnamon that values approximately $ 163m.
So, all these facts prove again and again why Ceylon Cinnamon is so significant, and the special place it has in the world.
Food in Sri Lanka
Food in Sri Lanka is a real delicacy. So, it is simply a must-witness as you visit this splendid island. However, there are a few facts that you should note about the food culture in Sri Lanka. They are as follows.
- From the past rice and curry have been the staple food of this country.
- Sri Lankans use their hands to eat any type of food in contrast to the westerners.
- Sri Lankan food is spicy, yet super delicious. However, if you do not prefer spicy food make sure you inform about it the chef beforehand.
- The high usage of spices such as pepper, cinnamon, etc. is noticeable.
- Sri Lanka is self-sufficient with fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and yams. So, these food items make the diet of Sri Lankans.
- There is a tradition of serving food on plantain leaves and lotus leaves. However, this is not that common in the present. Still, you can observe this tradition in certain restaurants in rural areas.
Cultural Food Items in Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka has an extremely diverse food culture. In fact, different cultural food items are popular among the communities that belong to different ethnicities. Kiribath with lunu miris, ambulthiyal, pittu, string hoppers, hoppers, and kottu are some of typical Sri Lankan food. Among them, Kiribath (milk rice) is considered one of the most prominent food items in Sri Lanka. In fact, you can find milk rice on the food table on each and every auspicious occasion of Sinhalese. Besides, thosei, and wadei are some of the famous dishes of Hindus, and the Biriyani and the Watalappan are highlights among the Islamic food culture.
Seafood in Sri Lanka
- If you visit the coastal areas of Sri Lanka you cannot escape from the excellent taste of the seafood. The best dishes made with fresh seafood from the Indian Ocean will keep your mouth watering!
Street Food in Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka is a country that is well known for street food. In fact, Sri Lanka’s street food is obviously on another level. Isso wade, achcharu, and short-eats occupy a huge place in the Sri Lankan street food menu.
All these facts prove to you how wonderful and diverse the Sri Lankan food culture is. Therefore, any traveler who tastes Sri Lankan food will never forget to taste them once again. Whatever food item you choose to eat in Sri Lanka will surely give happiness to your taste buds!
Whale Watching in Sri Lanka!
Interested in whale watching? Take it easy, because you are able to witness the world’s largest animal – the blue whale if you visit this splendid island of Sri Lanka.
Mirissa is one of the best places to watch whales. A large number of whale species like fin whales, pilot whales, and sperm whales are there amidst the blue waves in this area. Besides, Galle, Trincomalee, and Hikkaduwa can also be identified as the best places for whale watching, here in Sri Lanka.
There are many service providers in Sri Lanka that provide whale-watching boat tours. In addition, most of them offer an exciting experience on dolphin watching as well. Most of the service providers allow travelers to book whale-watching boat seats online. Their prices may vary according to the additional features that their packages may offer. However, any traveler can engage in whale watching safely without any risk on this charming land.
The best time to watch whales in Sri Lanka is the time period between December and April. At this part of the year, the sea is calm. Additionally, the comfortable sunlight that falls on Sri Lankan beaches attracts many tourists and local travelers towards the coastal areas of Sri Lanka, during this season. Many comfortable hotels and restaurants are built along the coastal belt in order to allow travelers to experience the fullest happiness of their trip.
Hydropower Generated by Waterfalls
The majestic waterfalls in Sri Lanka magnify the charm of this splendid island furthermore. And the interesting fact is, these waterfalls not only add extra beauty to the country but also generate hydropower. The St Clairs waterfall is one of the six waterfalls which affect the upper Kotmale hydropower plant. The waterfalls like Laxapana, also contribute to this course. These are just a few examples, and there are many other waterfalls that belong to the hydropower stations on this island. After all, they contribute immensely to generating power in Sri Lanka.
World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka
We can never ignore the world heritage sites when considering facts about Sri Lanka. There are eight world heritage sites in this country. They are as follows.
- Sigiriya Rock Fortress
- The Sacred City of Kandy
- Golden Temple of Dambulla
- The Sacred City of Anuradhapura
- Central Highlands of Sri Lanka (Peak Wilderness Area, the Horton Plains National Park, and the Knuckles Conservation Forest)
- Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications
- Sinharaja Forest Reserve
In order to witness all these marvelous places and enjoy the essence of Sri Lanka, you should certainly visit this fabulous country.
The Bottom Line
Excited to visit Sri Lanka? We are sure you are. Even if you were not planning to visit Sri Lanka, these interesting facts might have certainly boosted your interest in visiting this charming island very soon. Indeed, this small island is worth visiting. These facts surely prove to you the delight of traveling in Sri Lanka. So, what are you waiting for! Visit it and witness the delight yourself. Happy and safe traveling!