Sri Lanka, an island in the Indian Ocean is located to the South of the Indian subcontinent. It lies between 5 55’ and 9 55’ North of the equator and between the Eastern longitudes 79 42’ and 81 52. The total land area is 65,610 sq km and is astonishingly varied. A length of 445 km and breadth of 225 km encompasses beautiful tropical beaches, lush green vegetation, glory of ancient monuments and a thousand delights to please all tastes. The relief features of the island consist of a mountainous mass somewhat south of the centre, with height exceeding 2,500 meters, surrounded by broad tea carpet. Palm fringed beaches surround the island and the sea temperature rarely fall below 27 C.
65,610 sq. km
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
President Mahinda Rajapakshe
Sri Lankan Rupees (1 US$ = approx 104 rupees)
GMT + 5 ,1/2hours
Geography and climate
This paradise island compressed with vast variety of habitats includes pristine rainforests, highland grasslands and tea plantations, virgin jungles, mangrove swamps, dry zone areas, white sandy beaches and several internationally recognized National Parks.
Sri Lanka’s tropical climate shows little seasonal variation in temperature. Around the coasts, temperatures hover between 26 C and 28 C, with a mean temperature in the capital of 27.5C inland, however, average temperatures are very much cooler. From May to September, the South-West monsoon deposits heavy rain on the South-West coasts, from Colombo to Galle, and also raise heavy seas which make swimming and diving unattractive. The worst intensity of the monsoon is from November to February, but this will have little impact on most visitors, as the main resort areas and visitor attractions are concentrated in the South and the central hills. Local thunderstorms can occur at any time of year, and while these are often intense they do not usually last more than a few hours.
In the lowlands the climate is typically tropical with an average temperature of 27 C in Colombo. In the higher elevations it can be quite cool with temperatures going down to 16 C at an altitude of nearly 2,000 meters. Bright, sunny warm days are the rule and are common even during the height of the monsoon - climatically Sri Lanka has no off season. The South-West monsoon brings rain mainly from May to July to the Western, Southern and Central regions of the island, while the North-East monsoon rain occurs in the Northern and Eastern regions in December and January.
Sri Lanka has a great prude of history. The pre-history of Sri Lanka goes back 125,000 years and possibly even as far back as 500,000 years recent excavations show that even during the Neolithic Age, there were food gatherers and rice cultivators in Sri Lanka. Very little is known of this period; documented history began with the arrival of the Aryans from North India. The Aryans introduced the use of iron and an advanced form of agriculture and irrigation. They also introduced the art of government. Of the Aryan settlements, Anuradhapura grew in to a powerful kingdom under the rule of King Pandukabhaya. According to traditional history he is accepted as the founder of Anuradhapura. As a result of foreign invasion, kingdoms moved to many part of the island; Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, Kurunegala, Gampola, Kotte.
Sri Lanka has a very rich bio diversity isle of the Indian Ocean. Lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, Sri Lanka is one of 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Although the country is relatively small in size, it has the highest biodiversity density in Asia. A remarkably high proportion of the species among its flora and fauna, 27% of the 3,210 flowering plants and 22% of the mammals are endemic. Sri Lanka has declared 24 wildlife reserves, which are home to a wide range of native species such as Asian elephants, leopards, sloth bears, the unique small loris, a variety of deer, the purple-faced langur, the endangered wild boar, porcupines and Indian pangolins.
Processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, and other agricultural commodities; clothing, cement, petroleum refining, textiles, tobacco.
Sri Lanka follows decimal currency systilable in the denominations of Rs. 2,10,20,50,100,200, 500,1000 and 2000 in Rupees (Rs.) and cents (Cts.) with 100 cents equal to a rupee. Currency notes are avaCoins are issued in values of Cts.1,2,5,10, 25 and 50 and Rs.1,2,5 and 10. The intervention currency continuously will be the US Dollar.
Many hotels and shops accept most international credit cards. No surcharge is required for their use. Cash advances may be acquired against credit cards at certain bank ATMs. Most widely accepted cards are American Express, Visa and MasterCard.
It is advisable to enquire if your card type is accepted by the establishment before the use of any services.
Banks are generally open from 9.00am to 1.00pm from Monday to Friday. Some city banks close at 3.00pm, while others offer night banking facilities. Banks are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, all public holidays and special bank holidays on June 30th and December 31st. ATMs are most found adjoining bank branches island-wide.
Visas to Sri Lanka are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.Tourist Visa rules & regulations for visiting Sri Lanka are simple. Tourists can visit the country with minimum formalities. Nationals of most countries can obtain the visas on arrival for 30 days. If one wants to extend the tourist visa, one can contact the Department of Immigration and Emigration.
To enter Sri Lanka, passports should have one blank page and be valid for no less than six months from the date of arrival.
Transit visas: two days; double-entry ETA tourist visa: 30 days; tourist visa from embassy/high commission: 30 or 90 days.
Most shops open at 10.00am and close at 6.00pm. Shops are usually closed on Sundays and Full moon (Poya) days. The full moon poya day has religious significance for Buddhists and alcohol is not served in hotels, bars and public recreational areas on this day.
8.30 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., Monday to Friday 8.30 a.m. – 1.00 p.m. on Saturday. The Central Mail Exchange, at D.R.Wijewardene Mawatha, Colombo 10, (Telephone: 326203) is open 24-hours.
You may be required to open your baggage for inspection. Refrain from carrying prohibited or restricted goods. Certain types of animal products, antiques and gold are not allowed to be taken out of the country.
Important Retain your shopping receipts, especially for gems.
Embarkation forms are available at the airport check-in counter and need to be filled and handed over to the immigration desk prior to departure.
Filtered, mineral and bottled drinking water is available at most retail shops. Avoid drinking water from the tap.
220 Volts/50 Hz Ac. Two and three pin plugs are used mostly.
A list of embassies is given in the local telephone directory which is provided in most hotel rooms. If not, one may be obtained at the hotel concierge’s desk. Please contact us if further assistance is required.
If you need a doctor, please contact the hotel reception. The hotel will have a doctor within the hotel premises or nearby. Pharmacies can generally be found at the commercial centre of most towns.
International Direct Dialling (IDD) facilities are available at all city hotels, resorts, post offices and telecommunication centres. Postal services are provided at most hotels and at the local post office or authorised sub-post offices. Telegrams and faxes can be handed over to the hotel reception for transmission.
It is customary to tip drivers, guides and hotel housekeeping/restaurant staff if the service is satisfactory. This is solely at your discretion. The average tip is 100 rupees for Housekeeping and 10% of your meal bill for restaurant staff.
Food & Drink Tips
Your hotel provides safe and high quality food and we, as a policy do not recommend restaurants outside the hotel. Always wash and peel fruit before consumption. Drink plenty of water during the day to avoid dehydration.
On leaving the country you are allowed to export up to 10kg of tea duty free.
Purchase and export without license 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.
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.
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.
Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (Allowance should be made for summer-time changes in Europe.)
Sri Lanka has two official languages, Sinhala and Tamil. English use as a link language. Most people have some knowledge of English, and signboards are often in English.
• Ayubowan – Welcome (May you live long)
• Suba Udasanak- Good Morning
• Suba Sandavak -Good Evening
• Suba Rathriyak-Good Night
• Newatha Hamuwemu- See You Soon
• Sthuti- Thank You
• Saudiya Puramu- Cheers!!
• Oyage Nama Mokakde?- What is your Name?
• Mage Nama ….- My Name is …..
• Kohomada ?- How are you?
• Hondayi- Fine, Good
• Hari Hari- Ok Ok
• OW- Yes
• NEHA- No
• Enna- Come
• Yanna- Go
• Kanna- Eat
• Bonna- Drink
• Prawesamen- Carefull
• Gihin ennam- See you later/again/soon (Nawatha Hamuwemu)
• Badagini- Hungry
• Thibahai- Thirsty
• Wathura- Water
• Keama- Food
• Beema- Drinks
• Eka- One
• Deka- Two
• Thuna- Three
• Hathara- Four
• Paha- Five
• Dahaya- Ten
Photography: Restrictions & Permits
Sri Lanka is amazing island for photographers, 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 breathtaking archaeological remains provide great opportunities; Sri Lanka is best place to capture film. So it’s easy to capture the traditional rural lifestyle, farmers, you’ll find villagers fishermen and tea puckers 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.
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.
Usually all visitors to Sri Lanka travel by air; flights arrive at the Bandaranayke International Airport, 35 km north of Colombo, and 6 km of Negombo.
Mobile phones have been made so affordable in Sri Lanka that almost everybody has one, and coverage has extended beyond the major cities. There are four main network operators on the island; Dialog GSM , Mobitel, Etisalat, Airtel and Hutch. If you'd rather not use your own mobile phone on roaming but still want to be contactable, the cheapest alternative is to get a mobile phone connection with one of these major companies. All these phone companies have a pay-as-you-go plan where you can buy a local SIM card for around Rs.300 (that will work in GSM phones from Europe, the Middle East and Australasia) and keep adding money to the connection as you require it. You will find recharge cards at any corner store throughout the island.