Sri Lanka, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, was renowned due to its natural beauty, incredible biodiversity, and precious gemstones exported from the country. Throughout history, Sri Lanka has also had plenty of other nicknames. It was known as Taprobane in Greece and called Serendib by the Arab people. The Portuguese later referred to it as Ceilão, which eventually transformed into Ceylon. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country situated on the southern coast of India. It is a developing country and the capital city is Sri Jayewardenepura, Kotte. The country is divided into nine provinces and 25 districts, encompassing a diverse multi-ethnic population comprising Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, and Burgher communities. They practice Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity as religions. As the official language, Sri Lanka uses the Sinhala language, and the currency used is the Sri Lankan Rupee. Sri Lanka’s notable exports include coconut, tea, rubber, garments, and spices.
Sri Lanka, a little island, harbors numerous hidden treasures. It is truly a heaven on earth, surrounded by a stunning sea, rich in biodiversity, wildlife, and enchanting waterfalls. Sri Lanka is a haven for travelers and tourists, with tonnes of beautiful locations to immerse in and experience nature’s wonders. Ella( nine arch bridge ) and the rock of Sigiriya, Nuwara Eliya, Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Polonnaruwa Sacred City, Mirrisa, Yala National Park, Jaffana, Ulpotha, Trincomalee, Udawalawe National Park, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Horton Plains National Park, St. Clairs Falls, Tawalantenne, and Arugam Bay are some of such famous tourist attractions. Not only these, but also, Sri Lanka has so many beautiful camp locations such as World’s End/Hortons Plain National Park, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Belihuloya, Ella Rock, Kitulgala Rainforest Trekking, Adam’s Peak, Knuckles Ranges, Meemure, and Ohiya.
Yala National Park, Udawalawe National Park, and Sinharaja Forest are three exceptional destinations where you can immerse yourself in the incredible biodiversity and wildlife of Sri Lanka. The Sinharaja Forest Biosphere Reserve, in particular, stands as one of the country’s most valuable natural assets. This ancient rainforest is home to hundreds of thousands of fauna and flora species, making it the most biodiverse patch of forest on the island. Remarkably, nearly half of the species found here are endemic to Sri Lanka, adding to its ecological significance.
Besides the natural beauty of this country, Sri Lanka boasts 8 world heritage sites that are worth visiting. These include the Sacred City of Kandy, the Ancient City of Sigiriya, the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, the Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications, the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, and the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is also a culturally rich country with a vibrant heritage. Influenced by its long history and Buddhist traditions, the culture of Sri Lanka has managed to preserve its ancient aspects. The country has a thriving artistic tradition encompassing music, dance, and visual arts. Sri Lankan lifestyle is reflected in its cuisine, festivals, and sports, with South Indian influences being evident in many aspects. The impacts of colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British can also be seen. Sri Lankan culture is renowned abroad for its cricket, cuisine, holistic medicine, religious symbols like the Buddhist flag, and cultural exports such as tea, cinnamon, and gems. Moreover, Sri Lankan culture exhibits diversity, varying from region to region.
With a population of approximately 22 million people, Sri Lanka is home to a multitude of cultures, languages, and ethnicities. The Sinhalese people constitute the majority of the population, while the Tamils, the largest minority group, have played a significant role in the island’s history, particularly in the northern region. Other well-established groups include the Moors, Indian Tamils, Burghers, Malays, Chinese, and Vedda. The diverse composition of the population contributes to the vibrant festival calendar of Sri Lanka, with celebrations such as Duruthu Perahera, Thai Pongal, Independence Day, Navam Perahera, Mahashivratri, Sinhala & Tamil New Year, Vesak Poya, Poson Festival, Kandy Esala Poya Perahera, Kataragama Esala Festival, Nallur Festival, Diwali, Ramadan, Christmas, Easter, and many more special days cherished by Sri Lankans.
As Sri Lankans, we should take pride in our little gem, the country we live in. It is our duty to protect our homeland and preserve this beautiful place for future generations.
Written by: Rtr. Shanan Rajapaksha
Edited by: Rtr. Imesha Ilangasinghe