Sri Lanka, also known as the “teardrop off India,” is an island state in the Indian Ocean renowned for its captivating beaches, delectable and spicy cuisine, majestic elephants, and expansive and picturesque tea plantations.
General Facts about Sri Lanka
#1. Two Beautiful Nicknames
Sri Lanka has two endearing nicknames: Pearl of the Indian Ocean and Tear drop off India. These names stem from the country’s incredible natural beauty, biodiversity, location, and shape. When you look at the map, Sri Lanka resembles a teardrop off the southern coast of India. In the past, it was also known as Taprobane, Serendib, and Celiao.
#2. Adam’s Peak
Adam’s Peak, also referred to as Sri Pada, holds immense significance as a pilgrimage site for Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims. A challenging 2,243-meter hike, it sees thousands of pilgrims treading in the footsteps of Buddha, as they seek spiritual enlightenment and the symbolic garden of Eden where Adam was said to have been exiled.
#3. A Remarkable Literacy Rate
Sri Lanka boasts an astonishingly high literacy rate, with over 92% of its population being literate. This makes it the country with the highest literacy rate in South Asia. The Sri Lankan government has played a crucial role in ensuring that quality education is accessible across all regions of the country.
#4. The Sri Lankan Flag is the Oldest in the World
Among the fascinating historical facts about Sri Lanka is that its flag dates back to the 5th Century AD, making it officially the oldest flag in existence. The flag features a golden lion, which was initially removed but later reintroduced, holding a golden sword, after Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.
#5. 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Despite its size, Sri Lanka is home to an impressive 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These include the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, the Ancient City of Sigiriya, the Sacred City of Kandy, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the Old Town of Galle, Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple, and the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. Each site is equally popular and a must-visit for any traveler exploring Sri Lanka.
#6. Sri Lanka is a Malaria-free Country
Previously, Sri Lanka faced significant challenges with Malaria, similar to many other countries. However, diligent efforts by the Sri Lankan government to eradicate the disease led to the country becoming Malaria-free in 2016.
#7. Civil War until 2009
For nearly three decades, Sri Lanka experienced political unrest and a civil war that started in 1983. It took 25 years to quell the last stronghold of the Tamil Tigers. After the war ended in 2009, the tourism industry in Sri Lanka regained its footing, welcoming visitors for leisure and recreation.
#8. The World’s Oldest Tree Planted by Humans
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, a sacred fig tree planted in Mahamewna Gardens, Anuradhapura, is considered the world’s oldest tree planted by humans. It is estimated to have been planted in 288 BC and has been protected by Buddhist monks and kings throughout the years. Despite enduring intense storms, the tree continues to stand tall.
#9. Gained Much-awaited Independence in 1948
Sri Lanka’s colonial history began in 1505 when it was colonized by the Portuguese empire. The Dutch later took control in 1658, followed by British colonization in 1796, nearly 60 years before they gained complete control of the subcontinent in 1858. Finally, in 1948, Sri Lanka achieved independence.
#10. The Complicated Sri Lankan Flag
The Sri Lankan flag is rich with symbolism. The lion on the flag represents the brave and resilient Sinhalese ethnicity, while the sword symbolizes the nation’s sovereignty. The four bo leaves signify the influence of Buddhism and the importance of happiness, kindness, and equanimity. The yellow color represents the country’s diverse ethnic groups, the orange color symbolizes the cylinder Kanda Mills, and the maroon represents the Sinhalese majority.
#11. Incredible Whale-watching Opportunities
The blue whale, the largest animal in the world, can be spotted in the seas off many countries. However, Sri Lanka offers the best opportunities for whale watching, with a 90% chance of sighting these majestic creatures between November and April in Mirissa, located on the south coast of Sri Lanka. Whale watching tours also offer the chance to see turtles, flying fish, and even killer whales.
#12. The Connection between India and Sri Lanka
The geographical sandstone “bridge” between India and Sri Lanka is known as Adam’s Bridge. According to Hindu beliefs, it was constructed by Lord Ram’s army of monkeys millions of years ago. However, archaeological and scientific evidence suggests that it is a natural formation of sandstone under the sea.
#13. Many Universities
Despite having a population of only around 20 million, Sri Lanka boasts an impressive count of 20 universities. Among them, five are government-owned, while the remaining 15 are privately run. This abundance of universities, considering the country’s size, is truly remarkable.
#14. Full of Stunning Waterfalls
Sri Lanka is home to over a hundred breathtaking waterfalls, which contribute to the country’s electricity production. Hydropower plants harness the energy generated by the water cascading down from great heights, making waterfalls a remarkable natural resource in Sri Lanka.
#15. Respect the Buddha
When in Sri Lanka, it is crucial to show respect to the Buddha and his teachings. Taking photographs or displaying tattoos of Buddha is considered disrespectful, and such behavior can lead to deportation for tourists.
#16. The Largest Gathering of Elephants in Asia
Minneriya National Park in Sri Lanka used to be the largest gathering site for elephants in Asia. During the dry season, approximately 300 elephants from the surrounding areas would gather at this reservoir, creating a spectacular sight for elephant enthusiasts.
#17. The Temple of the Tooth
The Temple of the Tooth is one of the most sacred sites in Sri Lanka. It holds immense religious importance for Buddhists as it is said to enshrine an actual tooth of Buddha.
#18. The Cuisine of Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan cuisine is a delightful fusion of Indian, Persian, Arab, British, Portuguese, and Dutch influences, resulting in a unique culinary experience. Sri Lanka is known for its spicy dishes, making it home to some of the spiciest and most delicious food in the world. Kottu roti is the national dish.
#19. Shaking Their Head Means Yes
In most countries, a nod signifies agreement or affirmation, while shaking the head from side to side indicates disagreement or denial. However, in Sri Lanka, the opposite is true. If you observe a Sri Lankan shaking their head from side to side, it often means they are saying yes. It can be a little confusing at first!
Sri Lanka Facts for Kids
#20. Sri Lanka is the 123rd Largest Country
With a land area of approximately 24,212 square miles (65,610 square kilometers), Sri Lanka ranks 123rd in terms of size. To put it into perspective, Sri Lanka is slightly bigger than the US state of West Virginia and just slightly larger than Lithuania.
#21. The World’s First Female Prime Minister
Sri Lanka holds the distinction of having the world’s first democratically-elected female prime minister. Sirimavo Bandaranaike served as prime minister of Sri Lanka three times before becoming president.
#22. The National Sport of Sri Lanka
While many people assume that cricket is the national sport of Sri Lanka, it is actually volleyball. Volleyball was introduced to the country in 1916, despite cricket being introduced during British colonization in the 1800s.
#23. A 1,340km Long Coastline
As an island nation, Sri Lanka boasts an impressive coastline stretching approximately 1,340 kilometers. The coastline is adorned with stunning white sand beaches, offering a wide range of water sports such as surfing, snorkeling, jet-skiing, and scuba diving.
#24. Tea is the Largest Export of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is renowned for its high-quality tea, which is exported worldwide. As of 2014, tea products accounted for 12% of the country’s exports. Sri Lanka is the fourth-largest tea exporter globally and is known for producing the cleanest tea leaves according to ISO guidelines.
#25. The Origin of Cinnamon
Cinnamon, a popular spice used in various cuisines worldwide, was first discovered in Sri Lanka by the Egyptians around 2000 BC. To this day, Sri Lanka remains responsible for 80-90% of the world’s cinnamon production. We owe our gratitude to Sri Lanka for sharing this delightful spice with the world.
So there you have it – 25 fascinating, curious, and fun facts about Sri Lanka. I hope you found this post informative and that it inspires you to visit this amazing country someday!
Further Reading: More Facts Posts
Sri Lanka Wiki Facts:
- Motto: “Sri Lanka Matha” (Mother Sri Lanka)
- Government: Unitary semi-presidential republic
- President: Ranil Wickremesinghe
- Prime Minister: Dinesh Gunawardena
- Independence from United Kingdom: 4 February 1948
- Land area: 65,610 km2 (25,330 sq miles) (rank: 120th)
- Capital city: Colombo (executive and judicial), Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte (legislative)
- Population: 21,597,766 people (rank: 57th)
- Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR), (Rs)
- Languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English
- Religions: Buddhism (70.2%), Hinduism (12.6%), Islam (9.7%), Christianity (7.4%)
- National Holiday: Sinhala and Tamil New Year, 13-14 April
- Highest Mountain: Pidurutalagala, 2,524m (8,281ft)
- Largest Lake: Parakrama Samudra, 22.6km2
- National Dish: Kottu roti
- National Flower: Water lily
- Member of the UN: Yes
- Official Website: DHPL Travels
- Time zone: UTC+5:30 (SLST)
- Driving side: Left
- Country Number/Prefix: +94
- Country Code: LK
10 Largest Cities in Sri Lanka
Here are the ten largest cities in Sri Lanka. The capital, Colombo, tops the list, followed by Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. The suburban city of Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, located within the Colombo district, takes the third spot.
- Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
- Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia
- Pita Kotte
Sri Lanka FAQs:
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