Many know this country due to its former name, Ceylon, a small island located in the Southern Asia, in the Indian Ocean, close to India. Sri Lanka has a rich history and has become lately a great tourist attraction for people searching for exotic places to visit.
The island is proud of its 2500 years of history; several old documents talk about Lanka, Ramayana being just one such example. In fact, often times the island is referred as an island fortress of King Ravana.
The Sinhalese population arrived on the island in the sixth century B.C. and it is believed that they might have come from the Indian territories. Starting with the third century B.C, Buddhism was present on the island. In the 16th century the island was occupied by the Portuguese army, and one century later by the Dutch.
In the 18th century, the island was given to Great Britain, and in 1802 it became a crown colony. In 1948 the country became independent under the name of Ceylon, but it changed its name in 1972 and it is nowadays known as Sri Lanka.
The weather in Sri Lanka is tropical, so it rains a lot in the majority of the island areas. Rains are heavy mainly during October to January and May to July. The terrain is mostly low, but the island has some mountains in the center, with the highest peak located at the altitude of 8,281 feet / 2,524 meters.
Tourists come to Sri Lanka to enjoy several days spent in a wonderful place, an island often referred to as the paradise island, due to the endless beaches covered with soft sand. The waters surrounding the island have corals and countless fish species. The beaches cover 808 / miles 1300 km and offer tourists remote and pristine shores to walk and enjoy silence, along with exquisite landscapes.
Tourists that love water sports can surf the ocean, dive or ski jet. But not only the beaches are an important tourist attraction! The rich history is drawing people’s attention as well. Sigiriya (The Lion Rock) is one such example. It was built by a monarch in the fifth century, being a real demonstration of art and engineering for that moment in history. Tourists can admire the ruins of water gardens, ramparts and moats, as well the ruins of the two huge stone lions that were once guarding the entrance to the place where the royal palace was located.
Adam’s peak is considered sacred by the majority of religions in Sri Lanka. It is a mountain peak of 7,330 feet / 2,234 meters, and it is the single mountain top in the world which is venerated by more than one religion. The peak has a distinctive aspect and can be easily noticed from the sea. There are three ways to the top of it, but the majority of tourists prefer to join the pilgrims on their way to the top, a path which is shorter, but more difficult. The pilgrims prefer to climb the mountain at night, hoping to reach the top at dawn so that they can enjoy the rise of the sun.
The central area of the island is known as Central Highlands, representing Peak Wilderness Area, the Horton Plains National Park and Knuckles Conservation Forest. These have been recently added to the UNESCO world heritage lot. These are forests located at about 8,200 feet / 2,500 meters altitude, the place where numerous species of plants and trees can be found.
This is also the home of all sorts of animals and birds, some of them being considered endangered species, like the leopard, the langur or the slender loris. It is also the home of the Bear Monkeys, as well as for some elephants. The forests in this area are still close to the idea and correct representation of virgin forests.
Tourists that are in search of the thrill of adventures may include the island on their itinerary, as a destination for a wonderful vacation. One of the possibilities is to go whale and dolphin watching; the dolphins can be seen in the Southern, Eastern and Western coasts of the island.
Dondra Point is the perfect place for such an adventure. The waters around the island are filled with all sorts of fish, and tourism on the island also means fishing in the deep sea. There are fish species that one can find close to the shores, and some that swim in the deep further waters.
In Sri Lanka adventure may mean drifting in a multicolored air balloon as well. From that altitude the view is unforgettable, and many tourists prefer to sight see the island on board them. The rainforest in the Knuckles Range may offer a unique experience of walking close to spice trees, orchids and colorful birds, as the hiking and walking trails lead the tourists across them, on almost virgin areas of the island.
Sri Lanka offers a multitude of accommodation options, depending on the actual desires of the tourists. For those that are used to stay in elegant hotels, the island has several of them: Ceylon Continental Hotel, Cinnamon Grand hotel, Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, Cinnamon Lodge, to name just few of them. But there are also less than three stars hotels, boutique hotels, bungalows or rented apartments, and this abundance means that it is almost impossible that one will not find what he likes.
If the tourists are more interested in getting to know the life of inhabitants, there is always the possibility of home staying; this means finding a local family and enjoying life as they do during the stay on the island.
The food on Sri Lanka will mean also an excellent experience, as it is considered to be one of the most complex in the South of Asia. The cuisine has been influenced by the closeness to India, but also by the colonial ages. Rice is consumed daily with different spices and it represents one of the choices for dinner and lunch.
It is well known the fact that the island has gained a good name in the spice commerce over the centuries and spices are still present in the common dishes they prepare on the island. Curry is added to the rice which is served with fish, turkey, chicken, pork or mutton. Vegetables, lentils and fruit are also part of a typical meal.
When the cooks prepare sweets, they also used rice flour and treacle. As for beverages, Falida is a very popular drink made with syrup, ice cream, jelly pieces and basil seeds. Fruit juices are also drunk a lot. Of course tourists can find international restaurants on the island, where they can eat dishes that they are familiar with.
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