Country Profile

Sri Lanka is an island of no great size, yet it has an extraordinary number of facets. As Sir Arthur C Clarke remarked: "The Island of Sri Lanka is a small universe; it contains as many variations of culture, scenery, and climate as some countries a dozen times its size . . . I find it hard to believe that there is any country which scores so highly in all departments – which has so many advantages and so few disadvantages." Lovely beaches, beautiful landscapes, impressive ruins, a vibrant culture and charming people.

Official Name:

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Government type :

Republic

Location:
sri lanka map

Latitude 5° 55. to 9° 50. North, longitude 79° 42. to 81° 52., 650km north of the equator

Dimensions :

430km north to south, 225km east to west

Area :

65,525km2

Coastline :

1,340km

Currency (code) :

Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)

Independence :

4 February 1948

Administrative capital :

Sri Jayewardenepura

Commercial capital :

Colombo

Administrative divisions :

9 provinces
Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western, Eastern Province.

Climate :

Typically tropical, with a northeast monsoon (December to March) bringing unsettled weather to the north and east, and a southwest monsoon (June to October) bringing bad weather to the south and west.

Terrain :

Mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior.

Average temperatures :
  Maximum Minimum
Colombo 87.7°F 75.2°F
Kandy 83.7°F 68.4°F
Nuwara Eliya 68.4°F 52.5°F
Rainfall - Geographical Distribution :

Average annual rainfall varies from about 37" to 228". South West quarter and Central Region (approx. 1/3 of the Island) receives average 79" with a highest range between 158" to 228" being restricted to Western slopes of the Central Hills and North Eastern Hill Country. A little less than 2/3rd of Sri Lanka receives less than 79". The lowest average rainfall is less than 40" is confined to the extreme North Western and South East Region of Sri Lanka.

Rainfall - Seasonal Distribution :

March/April - Conventional (Inter-monsoonal)
May through September - South West Monsoonal
October/November - Conventional/Cyclonic
Depressional (Inter-monsoonal)
December through February - North East Monsoonal/Depressional

Highest mountain :
pidurutalagala

Pidurutalagala, 2,524m

Highest waterfall :
Bambarakanda

Bambarakanda, 263m

National Flag :
sri lanka flag

yellow with two panels; the smaller hoist-side panel has two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and orange; the other panel is a large dark red rectangle with a yellow lion holding a sword, and there is a yellow bo leaf in each corner; the yellow field appears as a border around the entire flag and extends between the two panels

National Anthem :
Sri Lanka Matha, apa Sri Lanka,
Namo... Namo... Namo... Namo Matha.

Sundara siri barini,
Surandi athi Sobamana Lanka
Dhanya dhanaya neka mal pala thuru piri, jaya bhoomiya ramya.
Apa hata sepa siri setha sadana, jee vanaye Matha!
Piliganu mena apa bhakti pooja,
Namo... Namo... Matha.
Apa Sri Lanka,
Namo.. Namo.. Namo.. Namo Matha,
apa Sri Lanka, Namo Namo Namo Namo Matha.

Obave apa vidya obamaya apa sathya obave apa shakti
apa hada thula bhakti oba apa aloke
apage anuprane oba apa jeevana ve
apa muktiya obave
Nava jeevana demine nithina apa
Pubudu karan matha
Gnana veerya vadavamina ragena yanu
mana jaya bhoomi kara
Eka mavekuge daru kala bavina
yamu yamu wee nopama
Prema vadamu sama bheda durara da Namo.. Namo.. Matha

Download National Anthem
National Symbol :
sri lanka national symbol Sri Lanka used the British emblem when it was a British Crown Colony. We continued to use it even after gaining independence in 1948. According to the recommendation of a select committee appointed to devise a state emblem more suitable for Sri Lanka (Ceylon) we opted for a new state emblem.
National Flower :
sri lanka national flower Nil Mahanel flower was declared the National Flower of Sri Lanka on February 26, 1986. Its botanical name is 'Nympheae Stelleta.' This flower is mentioned in many Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit literary works. This flower which is also referred to as "Kuvalaya ", "indheewara", "Niluppala", "Nilothpala" and "Nilupul" occupies a pre eminent position in Buddhist literature too. It is said the 'Nil Mahanel Flower' was among the 108 ceremonial designs found on the footprint of Prince Siddhartha. This proves that it had been a ceremonial flower throughout history. It is believed that the damsels depicted in Sigiriya Frescoes also carry the Nil Mahanel flower in their hands. Traditional poetry known as "Sandesa Kavya" likens women's eyes to the Nil Mahanel flower which has also been used as an ear ornament. The Nil Mahanel plant which grows in shallow waters is found in all parts of the country. The flower which is purplish blue in colour has a heavy concentration of petals in the center. The Nil Mahanel flower is also considered a symbol of truth, purity and discipline.
National parks and nature reserves area :

8,000sq.km

Population :
Year Population Population growth rate Population Density Life Expectancy at Birth
female male
  21,128,773 1.3% 309 people per sq km 74 64
Literacy rate :

Female 87.9
Male 92.5

Ethnic groups :
Group Presentage
Sinhalese 73.8%
Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%
Indian Tamil 4.6%
Sri Lankan Tamil 3.9%
other 0.5%
unspecified 10%
Languages :
Language Presentage
Sinhala (official and national language) 74%
Tamil (national language) 18%
other 8%
Note: English (a link language commonly) is used in government and spoken competently by about 10% of the population
Religions :
Religion Presentage
Buddhist 69.1%
Muslim 7.6%
Hindu 7.1%
Christian 6.2%
unspecified 10%
Time zone :

Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (Allowance should be made for summer-time changes in Europe.)

International dialling :

+94

Electricity :

230, 240 volts, 50 cycles AC. If you travel with a laptop computer bring a stabilizer

Economy :

Sri Lanoka's most dynamic sectors are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, port construction, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. In 2006, plantation crops made up only 15% of exports (90% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for more than 60%. About 800,000 Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% of them in the Middle East. They send home more than US$1 billion a year.

Labour force :

34.3% of the labour population is employed in agriculture, 25.3% in industry and 40.4% in services: 40.4% (30 June 2006 EST.) The unemployment rate is 5.7% (2007 est.)

Agriculture & products :

Rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconut milk, eggs, hides, beef, fish

Industries :

Processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining.

Exports :

Textiles and apparel; tea and spices; diamonds, emeralds, rubies; coconut products, rubber manufactures, fish

Imports :

Main import commodities are textile fabrics, mineral products, petroleum, foodstuffs, and machinery and transportation equipment: $10.61 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.). Percentage of main commodities from main import partners: India 19.6%, China 10.5%, Singapore 8.8%, Iran 5.7%, Malaysia 5.1%, Hong Kong 4.2%, Japan 4.1% (2006)

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) :

Purchasing power parity: $81.29 billion (2007 est.). Official exchange rate: $30.01 billion (2007 est.) Real growth rate: 6.3% (2007 est.) Per capita: $4,100 (2007 est.) composition by sector: Agriculture: 16.5% Industry: 26.9%

Gross National Product (GNP) :

Sri Lanka is placed in 76th place in GNP figures of the world's nations with $22.8 billion (2005)

Diversity :

Sri Lanka is a small miracle partly due to the compact physical diversity of this pearl-shaped island - but, as we shall see, this diversity extends to virtually every aspect of life. Fringed by variously-shaped sublime beaches, from straight expanse to rocky cove, the island possesses a coastal plain containing a host of geographic features such as lagoons, wetlands, rivers and various types of wildlife-rich jungle. The plain ends in the central area where the land starts to ascend into mist-shrouded mountains, covered in forests of wind-stunted trees (in fact there are seven different types of forest in Sri Lanka), plains known as patanas, and rolling tea plantations. In addition, the hillsides are invariably punctuated by dramatic waterfalls. For its size Sri Lanka has perhaps the largest number of waterfalls of any country.

People :

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society, a reflection of the island's encounter with successive foreign immigrants. But it all began with indigenous people, the Veddahs, hunter-gatherers who exist today.

The main ethnic groups are the Sinhalese and Tamils, both originally from the Indian subcontinent. Then there are Muslims, who settled in the island from the time it became an ancient trading centre. Similarly, Malays and Chinese were also attracted to the island. The Portuguese and British brought with them Kaffirs from Africa, and the Dutch an assortment of European traders, the Burghers. There are other communities too, the Chetties from South India for example . . . the list is extraordinary.

Whatever their situation in society, the people of Sri Lanka possess a warm and friendly nature reflected in persistent smiling faces and eagerness to help those unfamiliar with aspects of local life. You'll find that Sri Lankans are very hospitable and take pride in inviting people to their homes, however modest they may be. So don't be surprised if a driver or guide, or indeed virtually anyone encountered, requests the pleasure of your company. And don't decline, as Sri Lankan hospitality is taken very seriously!

Cultural Heritage :

Sri Lanka's cultural depth is recognized by UNESCO, which has declared six archaeological World Heritage Sites in the country:
The sacred city of Anuradhapura
The ancient city of Polonnaruwa
The golden temple of Dambulla
The ancient city of Sigiriya
The sacred city of Kandy
The old town of Galle and its fortifications

(The seventh World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka is an ecological example, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve.)

From enormous dagobas (dome-shaped structures) and remains of ancient buildings in the ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, to the awesome stairway to the temple at Dambulla and the sensual frescoes of heavenly maidens at the palace at the rock of Sigiriya, visitors can experience these World Heritage Sites within a compact area called the Cultural Triangle.

In the hill country lies the former royal capital of Kandy, home to the Dalda Maligawa or Sacred Temple of the Tooth, which houses the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. With its distinctive architecture, art and music, Kandy is a bastion of traditional culture.

In contrast, experience the colonial heritage of the country by heading south to the mid-17th c. Dutch fort at Galle, the best preserved in Asia. With 14 massive bastions, a grid system of streets, and some original Dutch bungalows, the fort bustles with life just as it did when Galle was the country's main port. It's simply one of the most unique attractions in Sri Lanka

Festivals year round :

Sri Lanka's ancient civilization endows the island with a legacy of colourful festivals relating to the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions. Furthermore, these festivals are commemorated with the flair of a people with a genius for pageantry and ritual.

Every full moon day is a public holiday known as poya. The most important is in May – Vesak Poya - which marks the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and Pariniwana (passing away). Worth seeing are the illuminated pandals (bamboo frameworks), hung with pictures depicting events in the life of the Buddha.

Sri Lanka's most tourist-oriented festival is the Kandy Esala Perahera, held in Kandy over 10 days in late July to early August and climaxing on Esala Poya. Perahera means "procession" and that's exactly what occurs nightly - a magical passing-by of drummers, dancers, whip-crackers, acrobats and robed elephants. A caparisoned tusker carries the reason for the festival, the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha for the people to venerate.

Hindu festivals include Vel, held in Colombo in July, in which God Skanda's silver-plated chariot and vel (spear) are paraded across the city, and the Kataragama Festival in the Deep South, also connected with Skanda, in which fire-walkers participate.

Ayurveda & Spas :

Sri Lanka has always been a place that refreshes not just the mind and body, but also the soul and spirit. And for thousands of years, the most popular method used to restore and rejuvenate tired bodies and weary souls has been Ayurveda – the oldest and most holistic medical system available in the world Sri Lanka has been a centre of spiritual and physical healing for 2,000 years. Ayurveda programmes consist of a range of herbal treatments and various types of baths and massages, together with cleansing and revitalization techniques such as yoga, meditation and special diets.

Sri Lanka now has a number of spas, mainly on the west coast, which not only provide Ayurveda but also other Eastern and Western therapies, such as Thai massage, hydrotherapy, herbal baths, reflexology and beauty treatments. For those seeking spiritual nourishment, meditation courses are also available.

Wildlife :

The need to conserve the environment was deeply ingrained in traditional Sri Lankan society: in the 3rd c. BC, the country's first Buddhist monarch established the world's first wildlife sanctuary. Today, this tradition continues with 13% of Sri Lanka conserved as national parks, reserves, sanctuaries and jungle corridors.

Sri Lanka possesses a high degree of biodiversity. Indeed the island (together with the Western Ghats of India) has been identified by Conservation International as one of 34 world biodiversity hot spots. In addition, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the country's last viable area of primary tropical rainforest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What's remarkable is the high proportion of endemic species.

A safari in one of the 14 national parks offers the chance to see some of Sri Lanka's 91 mammals (16 endemic) - elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, spotted deer, hog, mouse- and barking-deer, wild boar, porcupine, ant-eater, civet cat, Loris, giant squirrel, and monkeys such as the macaque, purple-faced leaf monkey and grey langur.

The island is an ornithologist's paradise, with over 233 resident species, (33 endemic) - but migratory species stretch the number to an astounding 482. There are 171 reptiles (101 endemic including two crocodile species). Thankfully, only five of the 83 snake species are lethal. In recent years there has been a surge in the discovery of amphibians, so that by the time you read this, the figure of 106 (90 endemic), will no doubt have risen.

Adventure and Special Interest Sports :

With over 1,600km of coast, Sri Lanka is an ideal location for wind-surfing, water-skiing, surfing, sailing, scuba-diving (including wreck-diving), snorkelling, speed-boating and banana-boating. Prime water-sports sites are located in the Negombo region on the west coast, Wadduwa, Kalutara and Beruwela on the south-western coast, and Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Unawatuna, Koggala, Tangalle and Hambantota on the southern and south-eastern coasts. Water-sports providers are run by local and foreign professionals (including PADI-qualified instructors) and rent state-of-the-art equipment.

Sri Lanka possesses over 100 hundred rivers, together with lagoons and 'tank' (irrigation lakes), so there are plentiful opportunities for year-round kayaking and canoeing, perhaps combined with a camping trip. Two popular locations are the Kalu Ganga and the Kelani Ganga (rivers).

The Kelani Ganga near Kitulgala has fast headwaters and rapids ideal for white-water rafting (from November to April only), with names such as Virgin's Breast, Head Chopper, Killer Fall, Rib Cage and Slot and Drop.

Varied landscape, wildlife, and archaeological sites offer excellent opportunities for trekking. Nature trails of exceptional interest include the Sinharaja rainforest, the cloud-forests of Horton Plains, the Knuckles (mountain range), and Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve.

In addition, para-gliding, rock climbing, cave treks and mountain biking are possible.

Hotels :

Sri Lanka has an assortment of accommodation options. Colombo features not only a host of modern five-star hotels but also iconic colonial-era hotels with the charm and romance of a bygone era.

The island is generally blessed with impressive hotels usually situated in stunning settings. The coastal areas, especially the west and south, have innumerable resort hotels, where package tourists mostly stay. Several are designed by Geoffrey Bawa, one of the 20th-century's foremost Asian architects. Bawa's vision encompasses a style referred to as 'tropical modernism' in which forms of modernism are beautifully softened and enriched by traditional influences and surrounding landscapes. There are also an increasing number of boutique hotels on the west and south coast, mainly centred at Galle.

Hill country towns such as Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Bandarawela feature colonial era hotels, and for those who venture farther afield, perhaps to indulge in adventure sports, there are beautifully converted colonial homes, tea and rubber plantation buildings, jungle cabins, tree-houses and eco-lodges as well as camping under canvas.

Food :

The cultivation of many types of rice, spices, vegetables and fruit, coupled with past foreign influences, ensures that Sri Lanka enjoys a varied and select cuisine. As a staple, rice is consumed with an assortment of colourful curries (eggplant, potato, green banana, chicken, and fish) that range in potency from delicately-spiced to near-dynamite.

Other Sri Lankan staples include hoppers (a pancake-like snack), string hoppers (steamed rice noodles) and pittu (a mixture of flour and coconut). Lamprais - rice and accompaniments baked in plantain leaves - is a legacy of the Dutch. Seafood lovers will rejoice at the fresh fish, prawns, crab, squid and crayfish available. Desserts include buffalo curd eaten with palm-honey, and the Malay-derived caramel-like wattalapam.

Sri Lanka has a wonderful array of snacks, known as short eats, named cutlets, patties, malu pang (fish bun), and kimbula bunis (crocodile-shaped bun!) that are excellent for trips.

Delectable fruit includes the popular mango, pineapple, banana and papaya, but also many lesser-known but distinctive examples such as sapodilla, mangosteen, rambuttan, woodapple, custard apple and beli.

Shopping :

Shopping in Sri Lanka can take many forms: haggling with a handicraft-seller while sunbathing on the beach; choosing fruit from the traditional village store, the kadé, while side-stepping sacks of rice; or checking out the bargain-priced latest international fashions (Sri Lanka is a major garment exporter) while enjoying the ambience of a luxurious shopping centre in Colombo.

And there's much in-between. Visit a handicraft shop and familiarize yourself with traditional designs such as makara (a mythical animal, lion, swan, elephant and lotus which are most evident in brasswork (boxes, trays, lanterns, vases) and silverware (ornately carved and filigree jewellery, tea-sets) that make excellent souvenirs. In addition, ritual masks, lacquer ware, batik and handloom textiles, lace, and wood carvings are popular.

Last but certainly not least, Sri Lanka has the widest variety of precious stones among the world's gem producing countries - blue sapphires, star sapphires, rubies, cat's eye, garnets, moonstones, aquamarines and topazes being just a dazzling handful. What's more, Sri Lanka naturally has a tradition in jewellery-making, so you can bring your gems to life.

Sri Lanka is known for its rich Buddhist culture and history and offers many places of religious and historic significance.

Anuradhapura is a central Buddhist city, holding many Temples and Stupa. The city offers pilgrims a religious experience.

Temple of Tooth :

also known as Dalda Maligawa is located in the city of Kandy. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites and houses the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha. The tooth was said to be taken from the flames of Buddha's funeral pyre in 543 BC and was smuggled into Sri Lanka during the 4th century AD, hidden in the hair of princess.

The temple took nearly 100 years to construct. The construction was started in 1687 and finished in 1782. It is an imposing pink-painted structure, surrounded by a deep moat. . Daily rituals are performed three times a day-at 4.30 a.m., 10.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. respectively. Person wearing shorts is not allowed to enter in this temple and shoes must be removed before entering.

Kataragama :

Kataragama is a popular place of pilgrimage for the Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and indigenous Vedda communities of Sri Lanka and South India. The god Muruga is the main deity.

Adam's Peak :

Adam's Peak is a 2,243 metres (7,359 ft.) tall conical mountain located in central Sri Lanka. It is well-known for the Sri Pada "sacred footprint", a 1.8 m rock formation near the summit, in Buddhist tradition held to be the footprint of Buddha, in Hindu tradition that of Shiva and in Muslim tradition that of Adam.

Bogoda Bridge and the Temple :

Bogoda Bridge and the Temple is an ancient temple and wooden bridge, which lies some 30km from Bandarawela and 10 km from Badulla, off the Hali-ela junction. Believed to be the oldest surviving wooden bridge in the world, the Bogoda Bridge dates back to the 1600s, but the temple just by it, has a much longer history, going back to the 1st century BC. The bridge built across the Gallanda Oya is on an ancient route, which linked Badulla and Kandy. The bridge is elegantly supported by 11 pairs of elegantly carved pillars and a railing of banisters.

Buduruwagala :

Buduruwagala is located 5km south of Wellawaya. Literally it means images of Buddha. The complex consists of seven statues and belongs to the Mahayana school of thought. The statues date back to 10 century AD. The gigantic Buddha statue still bears traces of its original stuccoed robe and a long streak of orange suggests it was once brightly painted. The central of the three figures to the Buddha's right is thought to be the Buddhist mythological figure-the Bodhisattva Avalokitheswara. To the left of this white painted figure is a female figure in the thrice-bent posture, which is thought to be his consort-Tara.

Dowa Cave Temple :

Dowa Cave Temple is located 6km from Bandarawela on Badulla-Bandarawella highway. Nestled amidst the hills, the historic cave temple complex was the sanctuary for King Walagamba. The temple has a beautiful ornamental gateway and a 38 ft. Buddha image sculptured from a rock. Some paintings, belonging to the Kandyan era, and which depict various Jataka stories are also sited.

Maligawila :

Maligawila is located about 15 km to the south of Monaragala. It is popular for the two colossal statues of Buddha, which date back to 7th century AD. Both statues are carved from crystalline limestone. One of the statues is 11m high and is considered to be the world's largest free standing Buddha figure.

Dowa Cave Temple :

Dambegoda is approx. 1km from Maligawila and has another statue of Buddha, which is 10m high and called Avalokitheswara Bodhisattva. This is believed to be a divine being who chooses to reside on the human plane to help ordinary people attain salvation. Muthiyangana is one of the sixteen most venerated religious places for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It has a shrine, built in 4 century AD, and houses the jaw-bone of Lord Buddha. It is believed that the Lord Buddha personally blessed this site during one of his three visits to Sri Lanka.

Pada Yatra foot pilgrimage :

One of Lanka's oldest traditions is the Pada Yatra foot pilgrimage from Jaffna to Kataragama along the East Coast. The origins of the Yatra are shrouded in myth. Several versions declare that it began with God Kataragama himself when he landed somewhere on our shores and walked to Kataragama.

Over the centuries this multi-religious 45-day (from Mullaittivu) pilgrimage to Kataragama has become a Sri Lankan institution. Village's en-route participates by providing refreshments, meals, hospitality and accommodation to the pilgrims, whom they regard as the god's messengers. For centuries pilgrims from India and beyond have also been 'called' to Kataragama.

Revived in 1988 by the Kataragama Devotees Trust and Cultural Survival today over 10,000 attend the pilgrimage annually. No innovations have been tolerated by these pilgrims who insist that the only way to know the tradition is to live the tradition.

Nationals from 80 countries who visit Sri Lanka for tourist purposes are exempt from visa requirements and automatically receive a free 30-day visa on arrival. Those from these countries who visit for purposes other than tourism should obtain prior visas from a Sri Lankan Consular Office. For nationals of other countries there is a varying fee for the 30-day visa.

The 30-day visa can be extended up to 90 days on the payment of a fee. You'll need to show a return or onward airline ticket out of Sri Lanka, along with proof of funds, such as traveller's cheques or credit card, and provide a copy of the bio-data page of your passport and 02 photographs.

Department of Immigration and Emigration,
Ananda Rajakaruna Mawatha,
Maradana,
Colombo 10.

Tel: +94-11-5329000, +94-11-5329316/20/21/25
www.immigration.gov.lk

Sri Lanka is a photographer's delight. However, permits are required before you can take photos at certain sites. Entrance tickets to individual sites are available only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. These tickets cover charges for photography, recording and parking. Rates are quoted in US Dollars and rupee parities are subject to fluctuation.

Custom Imports :

You are allowed to bring into the country duty free 1.5 litres of spirits, two bottles of wine, a quarter-litre of toilet water, and a small quantity of perfume and souvenirs with a value not exceeding US $250. The import of personal equipment such as cameras and laptop computers is allowed but must be declared on arrival. However, personal equipment must be taken out of the country upon the visitor's departure. The import of non-prescription drugs and pornography of any form is an offence.

Sri Lanka Customs: www.customs.gov.lk

Custom Exports :

On leaving the country you are allowed to export up to 10kg of tea duty free.

No antiques, Antique: defined as anything more than 50-years-old - rare books, palm-leaf manuscripts and anthropological material can be exported without permission from the Director, National Archives, 7 Reid Avenue, Colombo 7. Tel: +94-11-2694523, +94-11-2696917 www.archives.gov.lk and the Director General, Department of Archaeology, Sir Marcus Fernando Mw, Colombo +94 11 2692840/1 Tel. +94-11-2694727, +94-11-2667155 (www.archaeology.gov.lk).

Purchase and export without licence of any wild animal, bird or reptile, dead or alive. Also the export of parts of animals, birds or reptiles, such as skins, horns, scales and feathers is prohibited. Occasional exports are, however, permitted exclusively for bona fide scientific purposes. It is prohibited to export of 450 plant species without special permits. The export of coral, shells or other protected marine products is also strictly prohibited.

Applications for special permission to export fauna should be made to the Director, Department of Wildlife Conservation, 382 New Kandy Road, Malabe (+9411 25060380 http://www.dwlc.lk ) and flora should be made to the Director, Forest Department, 82 Rajamalwatta Road, Battaramulla, ( +011 94 28666 16/ 2866632 www.environmentlanka.com)

Foreign currency regulations :

Visitors to Sri Lanka bringing in more than US$10,000 should declare the amount to the Customs on arrival. All unspent rupees converted from foreign currencies can be re-converted to the original currency on departure as long as encashment receipts can be produced.

Health precautions :

The health risks in Sri Lanka are different to those encountered in Europe and North America. Watch out for bowel diseases such as diarrhoea and amoebic dysentery, vector borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, and a variety of fungal infections. Sri Lankans physicians, though, many of whom have trained in the West, are particularly experienced in dealing with locally occurring diseases.

Before you go :

No inoculations are compulsory unless you are coming from a yellow fever or cholera area. (Cholera is very occasionally reported in Sri Lanka, so is not considered a serious risk.) However, the following vaccinations are recommended, particularly if you plan a long trip or intend visiting remote areas:

Typhoid (monovalent), polio, tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies

Children should, in addition, be protected against:

Diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, measles, rubella

Remember to plan well ahead with vaccinations. Allow up to six weeks to receive the full course, for some vaccinations require more than one dose, and some should not be given together.

The risk of malaria exists throughout the whole country apart from the districts of Colombo, Kalutara and Nuwara Eliya. Medication has to start one week prior to travel, continue during the trip, and finish four weeks after your return. Once again, planning is essential, as well as cares to ensure the course is followed.

Upset stomach :

As most stomach upsets are due to the unsanitary preparation of food, it is useful to know what to watch out for. Under-cooked fish (especially shellfish) and meat (especially pork and mince) can be hazardous. Salads can be risky unless purified water has been used to wash the various vegetables. Fruit that has already been peeled should be avoided. Be careful of ice cream, in particular the varieties sold by street vendors and served at cheap restaurants. Sometimes there are power outages Sri Lanka, especially away from urban centres, so it pays to be suspicious of all refrigerated foods if you know there has been a recent outage in your area.

Water :

Tap water is not safe to drink, and boiling and filtering is sometimes done too hastily in some hotels and restaurants, so the best solution is to drink bottled water. There are now many brands available, mostly using spring water from the highlands of the island. Make sure that the bottle carries an SLS certification and that the seal is broken only in your presence. Beware of ice unless you are satisfied it has not been made from tap water, and remember the tap water you may be tempted to use to rinse out your mouth after brushing your teeth is unsafe. Keep a bottle of water in your bathroom for this purpose.

Sunburn :

When you flop onto the beach or poolside lounger for a spot of sunbathing, always remember to apply a sunscreen product with a sun protection factor of at least 15. Remember you are just 600km from the equator: even with sunscreen, your sunbathing should be limited in time. If you don.t apply sunscreen you are liable to become so sunburnt that it will be painful to move, your skin will peel, you will have to start afresh to get that tan, and . Most importantly . you put yourself at risk of serious dermatological disease.

Heatstroke :

Sometimes those who have spent too long in the sun suffer what is termed heatstroke, the most common form being caused by dehydration. This condition can occur if the body's heat-regulating mechanism becomes weakened and the body temperature rises to unsafe levels. The symptoms are a high temperature - yet a lack of sweat - a flushed skin, severe headache, and impaired coordination. In addition, the sufferer may become confused. If you think someone has heatstroke, take that person out of the sun, cover their body with a wet sheet or towel, and seek medical advice. To avoid heatstroke, take plenty of bottled water to the beach, or buy a thambili (king coconut) from an itinerant seller.

Prickly heat :

Prickly heat rash occurs when your sweat glands become clogged after being out in the heat for too long or from excessive perspiration. The rash appears as small red bumps or blisters on elbow creases, groin, upper chest or neck. To treat it, take a cold shower, clean the rash with mild soap, dry yourself, apply hydrocortisone cream, and, if possible, a product that contains salicylic acid. Repeat every three hours.

Local health care :

Minor health problems can always be treated by doctors with practices in the resorts and elsewhere in the country. If you have a more serious problem, Colombo now boasts a selection of modern, well-equipped private hospitals offering the latest in conventional medical and surgical therapies. A growing number of foreigners are taking advantage of affordable, high quality private healthcare in Sri Lanka, and combining it with the chance to take a holiday. Though the medical tourism industry in Sri Lanka is still in its early days, a number of private hospitals in Colombo are geared to provide advanced surgery and other treatment to international clients

Travellers with special needs :

Travellers with special needs, especially if they visit Sri Lanka without a companion, should note that the country has relatively few facilities for disabled people, although greater awareness and improvements are evolving. There's no need to worry at Colombo's airport as wheelchairs and assistance in boarding and disembarking are available. Buildings, offices, and banks are becoming better-equipped with wheelchair ramps and suchlike. If you aren't travelling with a companion, you'll find that Sri Lankans will be only too eager to assist.

Sri Lanka's Currency :

The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, divided into 100 cents (you rarely come across scents today). Currency notes are Rs2, 000, Rs1,000, Rs500, Rs100, Rs50, Rs20 and Rs10. Beware of mistaking the Rs500 note for the somewhat similar Rs100 one. To check whether notes are genuine when not given at a bank, look for a lion watermark. Coins, should you have receive them; will be in denominations up to Rs10.

Make sure you have plenty of lower denomination notes (Rs50, Rs100, Rs500), especially when travelling and you need to buy small items, fruit, and eat cheap meals, because change is often hard to come by apart from at hotels and big shops.

Banks :

Banks are open from 0900 hrs. to 1300 hours Monday to Friday. Some city banks close at 1500 hrs, while some are open on Saturday mornings. It's easy to withdraw money across the island at ATMs using international credit cards or debit cards.

Credit cards :

Most hotels, restaurants and shopping centres accept credit cards. Some establishments may try to add a surcharge, which is illegal.

Time difference :

Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (Allowance should be made for summer-time changes in Europe.)

Electricity :

230. 240 volts, 50 cycles AC. If you travel with a laptop computer bring a stabilizer. Language Sri Lanka has two official languages; Sinhala and Tamil - with English as a link language. Most people have some knowledge of English, and signboards are often in English. Photography: Restrictions & Permits

Sri Lanka is a tremendously photogenic island, so it's hardly surprising that most tourists bring a camera of some kind when they visit the country. The stunning landscapes, the captivating fauna and lush flora, and the stupendous archaeological remains provide great opportunities: a bonus is that Sri Lankans love to be captured on film. So it's easy to capture the traditional rural lifestyle. You'll find villagers, farmers, fishermen and tea pluckers will readily stand in front of your viewfinder. Your subjects will often ask to have a copy of picture sent to them. This may be laborious, but it is a reasonable courtesy as many may never have seen a picture of themselves. It is also understandable that many will also expect a token recompense for allowing themselves to be photographed.

Restrictions :

There are some important restrictions that apply to photography regarding Buddhist imagery. When you visit a temple or other religious site, remember that photography should not be carried out in a manner causing disrespect. For instance, it is strictly forbidden to be photographed in front of or beside any statues and murals. Note that flash photography can damage old murals.

Permits :

Tourists who wish to visit/and or photograph the principal ancient monuments in Sri Lanka are required to purchase a ticket from the Central Cultural Fund, 212/1 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7 Tel: +94-11-2587912, +94-11-2500733, +94-11-2581944 ( gen_ccf@sri.lanka.net ) or Central Cultural Fund offices at Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Kandy.

A single round ticket for two months validity costs US$50 and will entitle you to visit and photograph historic monuments such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Nalanda, Ritigala, Medirigiriya. There are separate charges at each site for those who do not obtain round tickets: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya US$25, Nalanda US$5, Ritigala US$8, Medirigiriya US$5.

When to visit :

Sri Lanka is a round-the-year destination for the visitors who seek for sun and sea the best time to visit the island is from November to April. The South-western coastal area, where the most of the beach resorts are located. Kalpitiya, located in the western (North Western)coast has been declared a new tourist attraction. Many development projects have also been planned such as hotels and other infrastructure to make the East a new tourist destination in Sri Lanka.

The central highlands are pleasantly cool and relatively dry from January to April. The peak season is mid-December to mid-January and March-April during Easter with a mini peak season in July and August when festivals and pageants are held through the country.

What to wear :

Cotton clothes are useful at any time of the year but you will need light woollens for the hills and waterproof clothing or an umbrella. Modest dress for women is advisable especially off the beach and when visiting religious sites. Don't forget comfortable shoes, sandals or trainers and cotton socks. If you are planning to trek and climb go prepared with suitable gear. Water sports enthusiasts would do well to take their snorkels and diving equipment along.

Getting there :

Usually all visitors to Sri Lanka travel by air; flights arrive at the Bandaranaike International Airport, 35 km north of Colombo, and 6 km of Negombo. A number of tour operators from UK and some West European cities offer good value package holydays throughout the year

Public places :

You may sometimes be overwhelmed by crowds of people in public places (railway stations, markets, bus stands, temples or simply busy streets). "Touts" and hawkers may jostle and push and clamour to show you a hotel and sell you things. Taxis and three - wheelers are often there when you do not need them.

Safety :

In general the threats to personal security for travellers in Sri Lanka are remarkably small. It is more pleasant to travel with a companion as it is advised not to travel alone especially after dark. The island including the North and East is safe to visit. If you have anything stolen, report it to the tourist Police, (a special tourist police set up to look after the needs of the tourists.

Contact tel Number + 94 11 2382209

Where to Stay :

Sri Lank Offers visitors an excellent range of accommodation facilities to suit all budgets from luxury hotels to low budget accommodations.( for more information on accommodation options.) In the peak season (mid-January and during Easter) bookings can be heavy so it is best to reserve accommodation well in advance through Tour operators/ travel agents, booking online and through our travel planner.

Drink :

Sri Lankan 'Ceylon' tea is prepared as in the West and coffee too. There are a huge variety of bottled soft drinks, including well-known international brands. Thambili (king coconut water is a safe and refreshing option. Local beer and spirits are widely available. Bottled mineral water is available in 5 star hotels. Please note: Alcohol is not sold on Poya (full-moon day of the month) days.

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