Sri Lanka - About the Country

Sri Lanka is an island, located to the east of the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. Located in the Indian Ocean it is a tropical island, with high temperatures and much rain, very fertile and with an interesting geology. The climate is ideal for growing coffee and especially tea, as a British colony it was known under the name Ceylon, and Ceylon tea was and is world-famous. Today the island is an independent UN country named Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka, like India, belongs to Asia.

The Capital of Sri Lanka is Colombo, the biggest cities beneath Colombo are Jaffna, Kandy, Galle, and Trincomalee. The official languages are Sinhalese, Tamil, and still English. The main religions are Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. The island has an area of 66,000 km² and a population 19 million people. 74% are Sinhalese, 18% Tamils, 7% Moor, and 1% others.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and an ideal tourist destination. Still there are some drawbacks. A recent civil war, which is more or less over, left some ugly remains, like land mines. Numerous regions are still considered too dangerous to travel. Also, tourism lead to a nasty level of crime, theft and violence, aimed at foreigners. And the recent tsunami of December 2004 added more inconvenience, for both locals and travellers. So when travelling to this country ask your doctor and your Foreign Office first.

The island has vast areas of crystalline rocks, nevertheless there are numerous caves, either erosional caves or tectonic caves, which are often important archaeological sites. Most caves were transformed into cave temples, which are both visited by Buddhists and Hindus. The most spectacular underground structure, hundreds of kilometers of artificial tunnels connecting all caves and cave temples underground is unfortunately a fantasy story. Nevertheless, most locals will tell you they are not, because they actually believe the stories. There are some limestone cave with speleothems in the southern part of the island, but they are located in the forest and visited on cave trekking tours. And finally there is karst at the northern tip of the island, but as the land is only 10 m asl, the caves are water-filled, partly with saltwater, and only some karst springs or cenotes can be visited.