Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Destinations Travel Guide

Flag of Sri Lanka

Language: Sinhala, Tamil

Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)

Calling Code: 94


Sri Lanka is an island sovereign country of Asia, located in the Bay of Bengal, whose form of government is the semi-presidential republic. Its territory is organized into nine provinces and twenty-four districts. The island was known in antiquity as "Lanka", "Lankadvīpa", "Simoundou", "Taprobane", "Serendib" and "Selan", becoming popularly known as the "island of a thousand names". During its colonization, the island took the name of «Ceylon», which continued to be used later. Its particular shape and its proximity to India caused it to be called "The Tear of India."

Due to its location on the road of the main sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between western Asia and Southeast Asia, and has been a center of Buddhist religion and culture of antiquity. Today it is a multireligious and multi-ethnic country, in which almost a third of the population is a follower of religions other than Buddhism, especially Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The Sinhalese community is the majority. The Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, constitute the most important ethnic minority. Other communities include Arab Muslims, Malays and burghers.

Famous for the production and export of cinnamon, tea, coffee, rubber and coconut, Sri Lanka has a progressive and modern industrial economy and the highest income per capita in South Asia. The natural beauty of Sri Lanka in its tropical forests, beaches and landscape, as well as its rich cultural heritage, make it a world-famous tourist destination.

After more than two thousand years of local governments by kingdoms, parts of Sri Lanka were colonized by Portugal and the Netherlands from the sixteenth century, before control of the entire country was ceded to the British Empire in 1815. During the Second World War, Sri Lanka served as an important base for the allied forces in the fight against the Japanese Empire. A nationalist political movement emerged in the country at the beginning of the 20th century, in order to obtain political independence, which was finally granted by the British after the peace negotiations in 1948.

The history of Sri Lanka has been marked for more than two decades by an ethnic conflict between the national government and the insurgent movement of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. In early 2002, the two sides in conflict agreed on a ceasefire, which was repeatedly broken on both sides. In early 2009, the national government launched an offensive against the Tigers, which lasted several months and resulted in the annihilation of the guerrillas and the death of their high command, but at a very high cost of civilian lives.


Travel Destination in Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura in North Central Procvince is famous for its religious complex as well as many smaller temples, shrines and other monuments.

Bundala National Park located in a Southern Province of Sri Lanka and contains several biospheres within its borders.

Dambulla Cave Temple is an ancient and medieval religious complex that is located in over 80 natural caves of which five are especially magnificent.

Horton Plains National Park is located in a Central Province of the Southern Sri Lanka.

Kaudulla National Park is a wild life reserve in North Central Province in North- East Sri Lanka.

Minneriya National Park is nature preserve that protects elephans, buffaloes and other animals.

Sigiriya is a pleasure palace and a fortress constructed by king Kashyapa who desperately feared the return of rightfull prince of Sri Lanka.

Udawalawe National Park is located in Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces of Sri Lanka.

Wasgamuwa National Park is located in Central and North Central Provinces of Sri Lanka and covers an area of 39,322 ha.

Wilpattu National Park is located in North Western and North Central provinces of Sri Lanka.

Yala National Park is located in Southern and Uva Provinces of the Sri Lanka. It is most visited reserve in the country.



In ancient times, Sri Lanka was known to travelers under various names. According to the historical poem "Mahavamsa", the legendary prince Vijaya named the island "Tambapani" (meaning "copper-red hands" or "copper-red earth"), due to the fact that his associates had hands painted with red soil islands. In Hindu mythology, in particular, in the Ramayana, the island is referred to as "Lanka" ("Island"). The Tamil term "Eelam" has been used to refer to the entire island in Sangam literature.

Ancient Greek geographers called the island "Taprobana" (ancient Greek Ταπροβανᾶ) or Taprobanē (Ταπροβανῆ), from the word "Tambapani". The Persians and Arabs called the island Sarandib, from Serentivu or Simkhaladvipa, Skt. Siṃhaladvīpaḥ. The Portuguese, who conquered the island in 1505, gave it the name Ceilão, which was transliterated into English as "Ceylon". As a British colony, the island was known as "Ceylon", and in 1948 achieved independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. "Republic of Sri Lanka" was officially adopted as the country's name in the new 1972 constitution and changed to "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka" in the 1978 constitution.

Official capital since 1982: Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte (seat of Parliament and Supreme Court), the former official and de facto capital - Colombo (seat of government, residence of the President).



The island of Sri Lanka is located in South Asia, a little east of the southern tip of Hindustan, and is washed by the waters of the Laccadive Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. It is separated from Hindustan by the Gulf of Mannar and the Strait of Polk. The so-called Adam's Bridge - a shallow in the Strait of Polk - once completely connected Sri Lanka with the mainland, but, according to the annals, was destroyed by an earthquake around 1481. The extreme southern and western extremities are Cape Dondra and Cape Dutch Bay.

The 25th largest island in the world and the 3rd largest in the Indian Ocean.

Most of the territory is occupied by coastal lowlands. The mountains are located in the central part of the country; the highest peak is Mount Pidurutalagala (2524 m), another famous peak is Adam's Peak (2243 m).

Inland waters
Plain rivers are short, mountain rivers have a large hydropower potential. The largest rivers: Mahaweli-Ganga, Kelani, Kalu, Aruvi-Aru.

The climate is subequatorial, monsoonal: the northeast monsoon lasts from October to March, the southwest - from June to October.

Flora and fauna
Sri Lanka has a very diverse flora and fauna.

Of the 450 bird species found on the island, representatives of more than 250 species are its permanent inhabitants. Of these, 24 are found only in Sri Lanka. Migratory birds arrive on the island for wintering from Siberia, Europe, Scandinavia. In March-April, during the migration period, you can observe a huge variety of butterflies, of which there are more than 240 species on the island.

The island is home to 91 species of mammals, including wild boars, jackals, wild buffaloes, several species of deer, bears, porcupines, foxes, monkeys and elephants. In the early 19th century, there were over 30,000 elephants in Sri Lanka. By 2010, there were about 6,000 elephants left in Sri Lanka.

In the reservoirs of Sri Lanka, there are 50 species of freshwater fish, of which 17 were introduced by the British in the 19th century. Of the 38 amphibians, 16 are unique. The island abounds with reptiles (171 species), including two species of crocodiles: the marsh crocodile and the combed crocodile. The star turtle is the only land turtle on the island. Five species of sea turtles are now protected by law. Of the 83 species of snakes, only 5 are venomous.

There are about 3,000 plant species on the island, of which 25% are flowering; 750 species of medicinal herbs, about 150 species of orchids and ferns.

On the territory of Sri Lanka, despite the high population density, there are 12 national parks, 3 reserves and 51 reservations, which occupy 14% of the island. Among them are Mineriya, Sinharaja, Bundala, Vilpatu, Wasgamuwa, Udawalawe, Yala and Wilpattu.



The population is 21.3 million people (July 2009 estimate).
According to the average forecast, the population of the country will be 19.5 million people by 2100.
Annual increase - 0.73%
Birth rate - 17.3 per 1000 people (fertility - 1.99 births per woman);
Mortality - 6.1 per 1000;
Emigration - 1.1 per 1000;
Infant mortality - 18.5 per 1000;
The average life expectancy is 73 years for men, 77 years for women.

Sinhalese make up 74.88%, Tamils ​​- 11.2% of the population, mainly in the northern and eastern regions. There are also Sri Lankan Moors (laracalla - descendants of Arabs) - 9.2%, burghers (descendants from mixed marriages with Europeans) - about 0.3%, Veddas (descendants of the ancient population of the island) - about 1 thousand people.

70.19% of the population (mainly Sinhalese) profess Buddhism (mainly Theravada), 12.61% - Hinduism (Tamils), 9.71% - Islam, 7.45% - Christianity.

82% of Christians are Catholics, the rest are Anglicans and other Protestants.

Literacy - 93.2%; men - 94%, women - 92% (2017).



Sinhalese and Tamil are the official and national languages of Sri Lanka. According to the constitution of Sri Lanka, English has the official status of the language of interethnic communication.


Administrative division

Administratively, the country is divided into 9 provinces, which in turn are divided into 25 districts.



The oldest inhabitants of the island - the ancestors of the Veddas - belonged to the Australo-Veddoid race.

The Sinhalese arrived on the island around the 6th century BC. from northern India.

In the III century BC. Buddhism comes to the island.

In the 3rd-13th centuries, large Sinhalese kingdoms existed on the island with capitals first in Anuradhapura, then in Polonnaruwa. The frescoes of the rock of Sigiriya (Lion Rock) in the central part of the island also belong to this period.

After the fall of the Polonnaruva dynasty of the Sinhalese monarchs, the capital was transferred several times, and by the time the Portuguese arrived on the island in the 16th century, it was in Kotte.

In 1506, the Portuguese navigator Lourenço de Almeida discovered the island of Ceylon, and during the 16th century the Portuguese occupied the coast of the island.

In the 17th century, the Dutch replaced the Portuguese. However, even during the period of Dutch domination, the hinterland retained its independence. Since 1795, the expansion of the British began, squeezing the Dutch out of Ceylon; in 1796, the Dutch possessions were completely conquered by the British. In 1802, British Ceylon was declared a colony of the British Empire. The last Sinhalese kingdom, with its capital in Kandy, was liquidated by the British in 1815; the entire territory of the island became a colony of the British Empire.

In 1948, the country gained independence under the name Dominion of Ceylon (remaining a dominion of Great Britain).

In 1971, a youth uprising led by the Popular Liberation Front, organized by Rohan Wijeweer, failed.

In 1972, the country was renamed Sri Lanka and ceased to be a dominion, remaining a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

In December 2004, the country was hit hard by a tsunami caused by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. More than 38 thousand people died, 6 thousand went missing, hundreds of thousands lost their homes. Sri Lanka received substantial financial assistance. The program for economic recovery is being actively implemented; it is planned to recreate 19 cities destroyed by the tsunami.

Since 1983, there has been a civil war in Sri Lanka between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrilla organization. After many setbacks and several truces, government forces managed to defeat the Tigers. On May 18, 2009, the 50,000-strong group of Sri Lankan government troops completed the last operation in the civil war. In the north of the country, on the Jaffna Peninsula, after the capture of Mullaittivu, the main forces of the Tamil separatists were surrounded and liquidated. Sporadic clashes continued throughout the week with scattered separatist units hiding in the jungle, but government forces established firm control over the last pocket of resistance. During the operation, the permanent leader of the separatists, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed. The International Human Rights Group in its report noted the presence in the period from 2006 to 2012 of 75 cases of violence against women and men known to it, which were detained in connection with their possible involvement in the “tigers”. In April 2013, about 3,000 Tamil film actors in India staged a one-day hunger strike in support of the Tamil minority of Sri Lanka: they wanted to punish those who committed war crimes at the end of the civil war, and to hold a referendum in Sri Lanka on Tamil Eelam.

In 2021, the country experienced the worst economic crisis since independence, which culminated in mass protests in 2022.


State structure and politics

The head of state is the president, elected for a 6-year term by direct universal suffrage. The President is the head of government and the supreme commander in chief. The President is responsible to Parliament; he can be impeached if supported by 2/3 of parliament and approved by the supreme court. The president forms the government, which is also responsible to parliament. Assistant to the President - Prime Minister - head of the ruling party. The last elections were held in 2019, and Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected president of the country.

The Parliament of Sri Lanka is unicameral with 225 seats. Members of Parliament are elected by popular direct suffrage on the basis of a proportional system, with the following feature: the party that receives the most votes in any constituency receives an additional seat. Only Parliament can legislate. The President has the right to postpone or cancel the session of Parliament, to dissolve Parliament if he has worked for at least one year. The last elections took place in 2020.

A feature of the political life of the island, starting from the 1950s, is the sharp rivalry (within the framework of parliamentary democracy) between the two clans - Senanayake-Jayawardene (the United National Party (English) Russian, UNP is associated with it) and Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga (with it associated with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, SLFP), who ruled the country for a total of 45 years. There are also the Communist Party of Sri Lanka and the People's Liberation Front (Janata Vimukti Peramuna), which is heavily influenced by Maoism, as well as a large number of Trotskyist parties - Lanka Sama Samaja Party, Left Liberation Front around Nava Sama Samaja Party, Sri Lanka Socialist Party , Socialist Equality Party, United Socialist Party, Revolutionary Workers' Party.

In the January 27, 2010 elections, Mahinda Rajapakse was re-elected as President of the country with 59%, defeating United Opposition candidate Sarath Fonsek. On February 9, 2010, he issued a decree dissolving parliament and ordered the arrest of opposition leader Sarath Fonseca (in September 2010, a military tribunal sentenced Fonseca to three years in prison for corruption), thus taking a sharp course away from democracy towards authoritarianism.

At the same time, under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa, a number of major infrastructure projects were implemented, such as: Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port, hydropower projects, as well as coal-fired power plants in Sampur and Norocholai. Due to the growing energy demand in the country, the Hambantota solar power plant was built. By 2010, the poverty rate in Sri Lanka had dropped to 8.9% from 15.2% in 2006.

During this period, Sri Lanka also rose in the Human Development Index, but the government came under fire due to high levels of corruption. Sri Lanka ranked 79th out of 174 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Index.

Age of Maithripala Sirisena
In November 2014, as signs of declining public and state support began to appear, Mahinda Rajapakse decides to hold early elections. Maithripala Sirisena, Secretary General of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Minister of Health, has announced his candidacy as an opponent of President Mahinda Rajapakse in the upcoming presidential election. It was supported by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and United National Party leader Ranil Wikramasinghe, Jathika Hela Urumaya, and Sarath Fonseka. In his speech, he promised to put an end to banditry, theft, crime, drug mafia, nepotism and corruption. The largest Muslim party in Sri Lanka left the current government and also supported Maithripala Sirisena.

As a result of the presidential elections in January 2015, Maithripala Sirisena won with 51.28% of the vote. He removed the chief of justice, Mohan Peiris, and launched a massive campaign against corruption and abuses of the previous government and the president, which lasted during his presidency. The president also pardoned opponents of the previous president, namely former opposition leader Sarath Fonseca. The new president has set a course for peaceful coexistence and partnership with all countries of the region.

Rule of Gotabai Rajapaksa
On November 18, 2019, Gotabaya Rajapaksa became President of Sri Lanka. In his election campaign, he used the rhetoric of Sinhalese nationalism.

The economic crisis led to mass protests that began in March 2022. On July 9, protesters broke into the residence of the president, who had fled from it shortly before. On the same day, Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced his resignation on July 13, 2022.



The island produces about 10% of all tea in the world, which is more than 305 thousand tons per year (3rd place, after India and China).

The economy also has a developed production of natural rubber, cinnamon; mining of precious stones (Ratnapura).

According to data for 2008, agriculture provides 20% of exports (93% in 1972), the main industry is textiles (63% of exports). However, Sri Lanka was hit hard by the cancellation by developed countries in January 2005 of clothing import quotas that had been in effect (under the WTO) for more than 30 years, which led to the replacement of Sri Lankan products with cheaper Chinese.

The main economic center of the country and the largest port is Colombo.

GDP growth is about 5% per year. Sri Lanka ranks first in South Asia in terms of GDP per capita ($4,300 in 2008).


International trade

In 2018, the volume of foreign trade in exports amounted to $11.1 billion, in imports $18.7 billion, and the negative balance of foreign trade was $7.57 billion.

The bulk of exports were textiles, including clothing ($5.61 billion), and agricultural products, including tea ($858 million), as well as rubber and rubber products ($588 million). Main export partners: USA (24.2%), India (7.76%), Germany (7.38%), UK (7.26%), Italy (4.44%)

Imports are dominated by machinery and equipment ($2.88 billion), textile raw materials and semi-finished products ($2.73 billion), oil products ($2.3 billion), as well as cars, metals and chemical products. Main import partners: India (22.7%), China (22.6%), Singapore (9.26%), Japan (6.27%), Malaysia (3.78%).


Tourism and rest

Tourism plays an ever-increasing role in the country's economy (9% of GDP in 2004). Seaside resort towns (Moratuwa, Galle), historical sights of Kandy, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, the mountain resort of Nuwara Eliya are popular. Tourists also visit tea plantations, national parks and religious and historical monuments of Buddhism, for example, the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy (the ancient capital of the island), which houses one of the most revered Buddhist shrines - the tooth of the Buddha.

In Sri Lanka, as in all countries of South Asia, cricket is traditionally popular. In 1996 the Sri Lankan team won the World Cup.



The main holiday in Sri Lanka is February 4, Independence Day. In addition, the country celebrates a number of Buddhist, Muslim and Christian holidays. Days off, except for Saturday and Sunday, are the days of the full moon, Poya Day, intended for meditation.


National symbols

On February 26, 1986, the Star Lotus was adopted as the national flower of Sri Lanka.



In 2021, the world's largest star sapphire was found in Sri Lanka. Its weight is 510 kg. The cost is estimated at over $200 million.


Emergency numbers in Sri Lanka

Ambulance 144

Police 133

Fire 122

Emergency service 120