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About Sri Lanka

Surfers, sightseers and families love this exotic island nation for its fun waves, great beaches and wealth of cultural attractions. Sri Lankans are very welcoming to overseas visitors, whether you want a relaxing beach holiday or a tour of the most famous sights.

An island nation with a diversity of cultures, Sri Lanka is sometimes described as the pearl earring hanging from the southern tip of India. Roughly 200km wide and 400km north to south, the terrain varies from idyllic beaches and lush tropical lowlands to steep highlands and a central plateau.

Consistent swells from the south Indian Ocean hit Sri Lanka, producing good fun waves all year round. The water is warm and the surf is not too powerful, so it’s a great place for a relaxed and affordable surfing holiday.

Sri Lanka has different surf seasons on its east and west coasts, so there’s always something working whenever your holiday. During the southwest monsoon, from May to October, the east coast gets the prevailing wind offshore. The northeast monsoon, from October to March, brings offshore winds to the southwest coast. Generally, the conditions are best in the morning.

East Coast: Sri Lanka’s east coast gets swell from the southern Indian Ocean, and is best from May to September when the prevailing wind is offshore every morning.

INFORMATION + MAP (click to open/close)

CURRENCY

The Sri Lankan Rupee is the currency of Sri Lanka. If you visit sri lanka don't give the money to anyone for change and don't change @ hotel. Best to change @ government bank or registered shops.

VISA

TRAVELERS VISITING SRI LANKA CAN OBTAIN THEIR Visa ONLINE. The Department of Immigration and Emigration now offers Visa online. Go to www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa for the Electronic Travel Authorization System (available in many languages).

Credit Card payments are accepted in United States Dollars and British Pounds. Visa Fee is $30, for a number of SAARC countries it's $15 and for Maldives and Singapore nationalities it's free.

The process is very simple and quick.

VISA can still be obtained on arrival at BIA Colombo for $5 extra, but having an ETA Visa means quicker exit from Immigration.

Also please note that there are other private web sites offering Visa processing services, and you have to pay a heavy Service Charge in addition to the Visa Fee - avoid them!. Travellers on short holidays can easily obtain One Month's visa, further extendable if you plan to stay longer.

CLIMATE

Seasons: ‘Popular speak’, and impacting the weather for tourists, there are four seasons plus two grey areas following the main monsoons. Monsoon is a wind pattern, deciding the waves/currents at sea and uptil some extent the rains on the land.

  • Northeast monsoon, mid-December-February, meaning bad weather on East coast and good dry weather in Southwest.
  • First intermonsoon, popularly defined as June and first half of July. Metrology defines it a bit differently.
  • Southwest monsoon, second half of July through September. Good weather on East coast; on Southwest it’s still nice sunny mornings, but cloud build-up at some point in the afternoon followed by brief heavy showers. Southwestern sea has heavy currents and waves.
  • Second intermonsoon, generally from late October until mid-December.

Both intermonsoons have a similar pattern, on all coasts: quite unpredictable and mixed weather. Generally one experiences (blocks of) three types of days: nice sunny mornings with later clouds (Southwest monsoon like), all-cloudy days with intermittent showers and three-seasons-in-one-day: sun, clouds, brief shower, sun again and so on. However during First intermonsoon there is hardly impact on the East coast, April-October there generally is quite good weather.

The grey areas March-May and early October ‘have something of each adjacent season’ – they could be stable and sunny on the Southwest coast and could have unsettled times. In Colombo region April-May is the hottest and most humid time of the year.

LANGUAGE

Sinhalese and Tamil are the two official languages of Sri Lanka. The Constitution defines English as the link language. English is widely used for education, scientific and commercial purposes. Members of the Burgher community speak variant forms of Portuguese Creole and Dutch with varying proficiency, while members of the Malay community speak a form of Creole Malay that is unique to the island.

HISTORY & POLITICAL

The pre-history of Sri Lanka goes back 125,000 years and possibly even as far back as 500,000 years. The era spans the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and early Iron Ages. Among the Paleolithic human settlements discovered in Sri Lanka, Pahiyangala (named after the Chinese traveller monk Faxian), which dates back to 37,000 BP, Batadombalena (28,500 BP) and Belilena (12,000 BP) are the most important. In these caves, archaeologists have found the remains of anatomically modern humans which they have named Balangoda Man, and other evidence suggesting that they may have engaged in agriculture and kept domestic dogs for driving game.

Frescoes on the Sigiriya rock fortress in Matale District, 5th century.

One of the first written references to the island is found in the Indian epic Ramayana, which provides details of a kingdom named Lanka that was created by the divine sculptor Vishwakarma for Kubera, the Lord of Wealth. It is said that Kubera was overthrown by his demon stepbrother Ravana, the powerful emperor who built a mythical flying machine named Dandu Monara. The modern city of Wariyapola is described as Ravana's airport.

Early inhabitants of Sri Lanka were probably ancestors of the Vedda people, an indigenous people numbering approximately 2,500 living in modern-day Sri Lanka. The 19th-century Irish historian James Emerson Tennent theorized that Galle, a city in southern Sri Lanka, was the ancient seaport of Tarshish from which King Solomon is said to have drawn ivory, peacocks, and other valuables.

Current politics in Sri Lanka is a contest between two rival coalitions led by the centre-leftist and progressivist United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), an offspring of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), and the comparatively right-wing and pro-capitalist United National Party (UNP).[170] Sri Lanka is essentially a multi-party democracy with many smaller Buddhist, socialist and Tamil nationalist political parties.

RELIGION

Sri Lanka is also a multi-religious country. 70% are Buddhists, most of whom follow the Theravada school of Buddhism. Hinduism is the second most prevalent religion in Sri Lanka and predates Buddhism. Today, Hinduism is dominant in Northern, Eastern and Central Sri Lanka. Hindus are mainly Tamils. Islam is the third most dominant religion in the country, having first been brought to the island by Arab traders over the course of many centuries, starting around the 7th century A.D. Most Muslims are Sunni who follow the Shafi'i school. Most followers of Islam in Sri Lanka today are believed to be descendants of these Arab traders and the local women they married. Christianity was brought into the country by Western colonists in the early 16th century.[271] Around 7.4% of the Sri Lankan population are Christians, of which 82% are Roman Catholics who trace their religious heritage directly to the Portuguese. The remaining Christians are evenly split between the Anglican Church of Ceylon and other Protestant denominations.

HEALTH/MEDICAL FACILITIES

Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip.. When travelling in Sri Lanka, you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are travelling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. Talk to your doctor about how you can prevent malaria while traveling. For more information on malaria in Sri Lanka.

Rabies can be an issue found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Sri Lanka.

CDC recommends hepatitis A vaccine. It can be transferred through contaminated food or water in Sri Lanka, regardless of where you are eating or staying.

Please consult your doctor before any trip as we are not medical professionals and cannot confirm what you will or will not need.

WATER

Avoid drinking tap water in Sri Lanka. Although it’s generally chlorinated and safe to drink, the unfamiliar micro-organisms it contains (compared with what you’re used to at home) can easily precipitate a stomach upset. Also avoid ice, unless you’re sure that it’s been made with boiled or purified water. Mineral water is widely available, although always check that the seal hasn’t been broken – it’s not unknown for bottles to be refilled with tap water.

TIPS?

Tips have to be earned not expected. In the hotel: room LKR 500/week, pool boy LKR 500/week, bell boy/porter LKR 50-100 depending on how far he has to carry your luggage.

Restaurants: if 10% service is not already added to the bill a 10% tip is reasonable. If 10% service charge is added usually tip less than LKR 100.

Driver/guide: LKR 300-500/day. If you visit temples that don't charge entrance fees a small donation (