Sri Lanka, formally known as Ceylon, is an island country lying in the Indian Ocean. It is famously known as “the pearl of the Indian Ocean” for its enchanting beauty. Sri Lanka locates in the northern Indian Ocean of the Southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Due to its geographic location and deep harbors, it had great strategic importance from the time of silk routes through World War II. This Island country is one of the leading tourist destinations due to its tropical rain forests, diverse landscapes, rich culture, long history, and warm-hearted people. This small island is home to various ethnicities, religions, and languages. It’s a Sinhala majority ethnicity, but there are many ethnic minorities also.
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Sri Lanka – The Nation with Golden Sands – Thambapanni
Sri Lanka was known to travelers in many names such as Lanka, Siri Lanka, Sinhala, Taprobane, Ceylon, Serendib, Thambapanni, and many more. The island got its name Ceylon due to being a British crown colony. However, it achieved independence as the Dominion of Ceylon in 1948. Basically; Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a president. The capital of the country is Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte, named by a president after himself, which is a suburb in the largest city, Colombo. Let’s dig deeper into certain aspects of the country.
History of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s history runs back to over 125 thousand years and possibly 500,000 before the present, and the ancient history of Sri Lanka begins in 543 BC. One of the first-ever written histories about the country is in the Indian epic Ramayana.
It provides details about a kingdom called Lanka created by the divine sculptor Vishwakarma for the Lord of Wealth, Kubera. And also, the Ramanyana mention that Kubera was banished by his demon brother Ravana. The latter built a mythical flying machine named “Dandu Monara” The current city of Wariyapola is known as Ravana’s airport.
Moreover, the history of the country spans out to Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and early iron ages. There were Paleolithic human settlements from the areas Pahiyangala, Batadombalena, and Belilena, which are essential in studying the pre-historic era in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka had kingdoms such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Yapahuwa, Dambadeniya, ruled by many famous kings; Pandukabhaya, Parakramabahu, Dutugamunu, Walagamba. These kingdoms are renowned tourist spots to date. According to Mahawamsa chronicle written in Pali, the ancient period of Sri Lanka began with the landing of a semi-legendary king, King Vijaya.
Geography of Sri Lanka
The Island consists of a varied landscape, but it mainly has flatlands. The south-central area of the country is mostly mountainous with steep-sided river canyons. The highest point in Sri Lanka is Piduruthalagala, reaching 2524 meters, 8281 ft above sea level.
Basically; the climate is tropical and warm, due to the moderating effects of ocean winds. Mean temperature levels range from 17°C (62.6°F) in the Central highlands to a maximum level of 33°C (91.4°F) in other low altitude areas. There are 103 rivers in the country, giving rise to51 natural waterfalls.
The longest river is Mahaweli covering 335 km, and the highest waterfall is Bambarakanda Falls, with a height of 263 meters. Rainfall patterns of the island depend on the monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. Ceylon is rich in minerals such as limonite, Feldspar, Graphite, Silica, Kaolin, Mica, and Thorium.
Economy: Sri Lanka is listed as a transitive economy from a factor-driven stage to an efficiency-driven stage by The Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum. In the 19th and 20th century the country became a plantation economy, famous for its production and exportation of Cinnamon, Rubber, Coconut,and Ceylon Tea. Sri Lanka was a center of trade back in the day due to the development of modern ports by the British.
Today’s economy in the country is mainly based on the service and industrial sectors. But, still, the field of agriculture is playing an important role. Primary industries in Sri Lanka today are Rubber processing, telecommunications, textiles, cement, petroleum refining, and the processing of agricultural exports. Tourism is also vastly developing in the country.
Culture of Sri Lanka
Ceylon is a country with a vibrant and colorful culture, and it dates back to more than 2500 years. Religion has a significant influence in shaping up a country’s culture. Similarly, In Sri Lanka, cultures mainly revolve around two dominant religions; Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhist and Hindu temples and even the mosques and churches have their colorful rituals and customs.
Sri Lanka is known for its genius in hydraulic engineering and architecture in the ancient days. The culture of the country is the base of long life expectancy, high literacy rates, and advanced health standards.
The peak of the tourist seasons usually coincides with many cultural traditions of Sri Lanka, as follows:
- Kandy Perahara
- Galle Literary festival
- Pilgrimages to historical places like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla and many more
Language, Ethnicity, and Religion: These two factors determine one’s identity. The primary language in Sri Lanka is Sinhala; Actually, it is an Indo Aryan language, while the Dravidian language of Tamil is the verbal language of the Tamils. The Sinhala language originates from Pali, the sacred language of Sri Lankan Buddhists.
Sri Lankans who live in cities speak the universal language of English and is a compulsory language in schools as well.
Though Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and religious country, the majority is the Sinhalese Buddhists. The minor ethnic groups like Tamils, Muslim moors, Burghers, Kaffirs, Malays, and the aboriginal Vedda people live in Sri Lanka.
According to the 2012 census, there are 70.2% Therevada Buddhists, 12.6% Hindus, 9.7% Muslims, 6.1% Roman Catholics, 1.3% other Christians, and 0.5% others in Sri Lanka.
Transport of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has both national and private transport services operating in the country. The base of Transportation is on its road network, which is centered in Colombo. The country has a well-connected system of transport by road, rail and air.
There are traversable waterways, two highways, railroads, and two international airports in the country. However, there is no need to travel by water or air if you are traveling within the country due to the island’s size. It is possible to reach any part of the country within hours by road.
Public transport modes are busses, three-wheelers popularly known as tuk-tuks and trains. When considering private transport modes, they are as follows:
- self-driven cars
- vans, motorbikes
Currency of Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan Rupee [LKR] is the currency of Sri Lanka. The symbol of the rupee is Rs in English, and the currency code is LKR. It has six significant conversion factor digits and known as fiat money. The most popular exchange currency is with the US dollar.
Food: If you are a fan of coconut, spices, and a rich taste in food, Sri Lanka is the best place! One can fall in love with the taste of Sri Lanka as it is unique and healthy.
The staple food in Sri Lanka is Rice, and in every special moment, they make a dish called Kiri Bath (Milk Rice) and Lunumiris (An onion salad with chili flakes). There are many delicious dishes in this little island as follows:
- String hoppers
- Rice and curry
- Watalappan (A dessert)
Festivals of Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan festivals are colorful and rich in cultural values. They celebrate Sinhala and Hindu New Year in April. Mostly Buddhists and Hindus celebrate this festival.
Another symbolic festival is the Esala Perehara that you can watch in Kandy. This cultural show consists of dances, richly decorated elephants, fire dancers, whip dancers, and various other cultural dances and instrumental groups.
Apart from Buddhist festivals, Tamils celebrate Thai Pongal, Maha Shivarathri, and the Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter.
National Symbols of Sri Lanka, Ceylon
- Flag – Lion flag
- Emblem – Gold Lion Passant
- Anthem – Sri Lanka Matha
- Butterfly – Troides Darsius
- Bird – Sri Lankan jungle fowl
- Flower – Red and Bluewater lily
- Tree – Ceylon ironwood
- Sport – Volleyball
If you are planning a vacation in a tropical island with a pina colada in one hand and sand in your toes along a beautiful beach; a train ride among beautiful mountains with the touch of the cool breeze on your face or if you want to explore new rich cultures; cuisine and live among historical ruins of kingdoms, Sri Lanka is your best destination. So, this article will provide you with an insight into different aspects of the country. Not only that, but also you will be eager to visit the place and witness and experience the beauty of it!