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See the beauty of Sri Lanka with our collection of hand pick photos and videos.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Formal Name of Country:

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Short Form:

Sri Lanka

Former Name:

Ceylon

Nationality:

Sri Lankan(s)

Capital:

Colombo, situated on the south-western coast

Administrative Capital:

Sri Jayawardenapura, from 1982

Population:

19,576,783

Ethnic groups:

Sinhalese 74%, Tamil 18%, Moor 7%, Burgher, Malay and Veddha 1%

Religions:

Budhist 74%, Hindu 15%, Christian 8%, Muslim 7% (1999)

Languages:

Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 8%, other 8%, English is the link language

Currency:

Sri Lanka Rupees. Rs.1 = 100 cents. US$ 1 = Rs.100.00

National Tree:

Na (Mesua ferrea)

National Flower:

Nil Manel (Nymphaea stellata)

Geography
Sri Lanka is situated North of the Equator between 5º - 10º N latitude and 79º - 82º E longitude. Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, 29 kilometres to the south of India. It is 65,610 square kilometres in extent with a coastline of 1,340 kilometres. The island comprises of 64,470 square kilometres of land and 870 square kilometres of water. The length of the country at its longest is 434 km whereas its greatest width is 227 km.

Topography
It is irregular and dissected. The central massif dominates the south and the highest elevation at Pidurutalagala is 2,524 metres. Adam’s Peak, a popular destination for interfaith pilgrimages reaches an elevation of 2,243 metres. The elevation of the coastal belt is less than 100 metres and is followed by rolling plains of varying width and elevations ranging from 100 – 500 metres that extend to the foothills of the central massif. The northern part of the island consists of rolling plains punctuated by isolated ridges. Rivers flow radially from the central massif to the coast. The longest river is Mahaweli Ganga, 860 kilometres in length takes a north easterly direction and reaches the sea at Trincomalee. The coastline is indented by numerous lagoons and marked by sandy beaches.

Biodiversity
The world’s first recorded wildlife sanctuary was at Mihintale. It was established by King Devanampiyatissa in the 3rd century BC. Sri Lanka registers 242 known species of butterflies, 107 species of fish, 435 recorded birds, 92 species of mammals, 54 species of amphibia, 74 species of tetrapod reptiles and 81 species of snakes.

South–western tropical rainforests contain Ebony, teak and silkwood trees, and rare orchids. The cool damp highlands constitute of hardy grasslands, rhododendrons and stunted forests. The predominant features of the arid north are shrubs and grasslands.

Climate
Possesses a tropical and equatorial climate, influenced by elevation above sea level. The diurnal and seasonal variation in temperature is slight. The temperature in Colombo, at sea level, varies from 25oC – 32oC and in the central massif at highest elevation records a variation from 14oC – 16oC. Southwestern monsoon brings rain from mid May – October while the northeast monsoon does so from December – March. Climatically the country is divided into wet and dry zones due to uneven rainfall. The wet zone comprises the southwestern part of the country while the remainder belongs to the dry zone. Annual average precipitation in the wet zone is 250 centimetres and in the dry zone it varies from 120-190 centimetres.

World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka:

  • The Sacred City of Anuradhapura - 5 BC

  • The Medieval Capital of Polonnaruwa – 10 AD

  • The Cave Temples of Dambulla – 1 BC

  • The Sigiriya Rock Fortress – 5 AD

  • The Royal City of Kandy – 17 AD

  • The Dutch Fortification at Galle – 17 AD

  • The Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Government

Government type:

Republic

Administrative division:

8 provinces; Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western

National holiday:

Independence Day, 4 February (from UK in 1948)

Constitution:

Republican constitution adopted on 16 August 1978

Legal system:

based on Roman-Dutch Law, English common law, Muslim, Sinhalese and customary law.

Suffrage:

universal suffrage from 18 years of age

Executive branch:

President - Chief of State and Head of Government, elected by universal adult franchise for a six year term (last held on -- November 2005).

Present President:

Mahinda Rajapaksha

Prime Minister:

appointed by the President following Parliamentary elections for a six year term

Present Prime Minister:

Cabinet:

appointed by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister.

Legislative branch:

Unicameral parliament with 225 seats; members elected by universal adult franchise for a 6-year term on the basis of a modified proportional representational system by district.

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court; Court of Appeals; judges of both courts appointed by the President

TOURIST SITES

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura was established in the 5th century B.C. and became Sri Lanka’s first capital in 380 B.C. This ancient city has many ruins of Dagobas, monasteries and palaces.

Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka the reign of King Devanampiyatissa (250 B.C. – 210 B.C.). The sacred Bo tree (2200 years old) was a branch of the Bo tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. The ruins of the Brazen palace which had 1600 pillars in 40 rows stand close to this sacred tree.

 

Kandy

Kandy

Sri Lanka’s Hill Capital, Kandy, was a stronghold of Sinhala Kings. The temple of the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha is the focal point of the city. The lake by the temple was built by the last King of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, in 1806.


Sigiriya

Sigiriya

The imposing rock fortress of Sigiriya is famous for its frescoes of the 5th century A.D. The frescoes painted on a protected rock surface is reached by a spiral stairway.

According to theories propounded by archaeologists Sigiriya is believed to have been a monastery. Another theory suggests that it was the palace of King Kasyapa.

 

Golden beaches

Sri Lanka has over a thousand miles of beautiful pale golden beaches, fringed with coconut palms and surrounded by blue water. The tranquil bays, coral reefs teaming with colourful fish beckons its visitors.


Sri Lanka has several other tourist sites: the medieval capital of Sri Lanka, Pollonaruwa, cave temple of Dambulla, Kandy, the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, Yala and Wilpattu wildlife sanctuaries, Horton Planes, etc.

For those touring the country, Sri Lanka offers good accommodation ranging from International 6 Star Chain Hotels to informal Guest Houses.

Further Reading
Complete summary of information regarding Sri Lanka.

Guide to complete Tour Sites and Attractions in Sri Lanka.

 

FLAG OF SRI LANKA

LOCATION MAPS

Map of the World

Map of the World (click for a larger view)

Map of Asia

Map of Asia (click for a larger view)

Map of Sri Lanka

Map of Sri Lanka (click for a larger view)

 

 

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