Sri Lanka

Set in the Indian Ocean in South Asia, the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka has a history dating back to the birth of time. It is a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes and where nature’s beauty remains abundant and unspoilt.

Few places in the world can offer the traveller such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location. Within a mere area of 65,610 kilometres lie 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometres of coastline – much of it pristine beach – 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 350 waterfalls, 25,000 water bodies, to a culture that extends back to over 2,500 years.

This is an island of magical proportions, once known as Serendib, Taprobane, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and Ceylon. Discover refreshingly Sri Lanka!

  • Official Name:

    Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

  • Government Type:


  • Location:

    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

  • Coastline:


  • Area:


  • Currency (code):

    Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)

  • Independence:

    4 February 1948

  • Administrative Capital:

    Sri Jayewardenepura

  • Commercial Capital:


  • Administrative Divisions:

    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

  • Highest Mountain:

    Pidurutalagala, 2,524m

  • Highest Waterfall:

    Bambarakanda, 263m

  • National Flower:

    The Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea stellata).

  • National Parks and Nature Reserves Area:


  • Population:


  • Population Growth Rate:


  • Population Density:

    309 people per sq km

  • Life Expectancy at Birth:

    74 female, 64 male

  • Literacy Rate :

    Female 87.9 Male 92.5

  • Ethnic Groups:

    Sinhalese 73.8%, Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%, Indian Tamil 4.6%, Sri Lankan Tamil 3.9%, other 0.5%,
    unspecified 10% (2001 census)

  • Languages:

    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

  • Religion:

    Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census)

  • 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 Dialing:


  • Electricity:

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

  • Economy:

    Sri Lanka’s most dynamic sectors are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, port
    construction, telecommunications, 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 Industries:

    Rice, Sugarcane, Grains, Pulses, Oilseed, Spices, Tea, Rubber, Coconuts, milk, Eggs, Hides, Beef, Fish
    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, 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)

  • Flag Description:

    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


543BC – Prince Vijaya arrives with his entourage of 700 from India and become the Island’s first king by marrying Kuveni, a native princess. They called the land Thambapanni that later changed to Taprobane.



437 BC – Anuradhapura was made the first capital of the island by King Pandukabhaya.

248 BC – The historical visit of Arahat Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka of India. The King Devanampiyatissa embraces Buddhism along with followers.




260 BC – Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Ashoka arrive with the right branch of the Bo-tree under which the Prince Gautama attained enlightment. The Sri Maha Bodi is the oldest authenticated tree in the world.

237 Bc – Arrival of Sena and Guththika from India, the first intruders.

205 BC – Elara from Chola country in South India, captures Anuradhapura and rulesfor 44 years.

161 BC – King Dutugemunu, the greatest national hero of the country, defeats Elara & reigns for 24 golden years of the history.



313 AD – The Tooth relic was brought from Kalinga in India to prevent its falling in to the hands of hostile King.

341 AD – King Buddhadasa provided dispensaries and physicians throughout the Kingdom. The great King himself was known to have performed operations.

479 AD – King Kasyapa built his palace on the top of Sigiriya.

564 AD – The reign of King Aggabodhi 1, a period of fervor and festivity. Poets flourished; books on religion composed; p[ublic reading of 3 pitakas.

598 AD – King Aggabodhi II constructs 14 tanks including massive Kantale and Giritale tanks. King of Kalinga arrived and became a monk during this period.

991 AD – Chola emperor conquered the country and the capital is moved to Polonnaruwa.

1056 AD – King Vijayabaahu I takes control by driving out the Cholas ending a 75 – year rule and reigned for 55 years.

1153 AD – The reign of King Parakramabahu I. Most remarkable monuments and Parakrama Samudra are built during his reign of 33 years.



1215 AD – The capital shifts to Dambadeniya from Polonnaruwa.

1272 AD – Yapahuwa becomes the capital.

1293 AD Kurunagala is the seat of rule.

1344 AD – Famous traveler Ibn Bauta visits Ceylon.

1344 AD – Capital shifted to Gampola.

1415 AD – Kotte is established as the capital.

1505 AD – The island is visited by the Portuguese.

1514 AD – The new capital is Kandy.


1656 AD – The arrival of Dutch.

1658 AD – Dutch took control over the coastal areas of the island Capture of the Maritime Provinces by the Dutch.

1796 AD – The British arrive, outs the Dutch.

1802 AD – Ceylon becomes a crown colony.




1815 AD – The Sri Lankan King is captured as a result of a plot. Lanka’s monarchy endured for 24 centuries and seen the reign of 185 Kings comes to an end.








1948 AD – Ceylon becomes independent. Hon. D.S. Senanayake becomes the first Prime minister.

1960 AD – Sirimavo Bandaranaike becomes the first woman Prime Minister.

1972 AD – The name ‘Ceylon ‘ is officially changed to Sri Lanka.

1948 AD – Ceylon becomes independent. Hon. D.S. Senanayake becomes the first Prime minister.

1960 AD – Sirimavo Bandaranaike becomes the first woman Prime Minister.

1972 AD – The name ‘Ceylon ‘ is officially changed to Sri Lanka.



1978 AD – J R Jayawardene became the

country’s first Executive President, new constitution and free economy follows.