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Sri Lanka: General Information

The island of Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean, to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal. It is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait.

It has also been a center of the Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times and is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia, including Ladakh, Bhutan and the Chittagong Hill Tracts, as well as being a bastion of Hinduism.

The Sinhalese community forms the majority of the population; Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, form the largest ethnic minority. The country is famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, coconuts, rubber and cinnamon - which is native to the country.The natural beauty of Sri Lanka's tropical forests, beaches and landscape, as well as its rich cultural heritage, make it a world famous tourist destination.

 

Sri Lanka:  Useful Information

 

Location

South Asia.

Time

GMT + 5.5.

Area

65,525 sq km (25,299 sq miles).

Population

20.9 million (CIA estimate 2007).

Population Density

319 per sq km.

Capital

Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte (official). Population: 115,826 (census 2001). Colombo (commercial). Population: 2.4 million (official estimate 2006). Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is only 10km (6 miles) from Colombo.

Geography

Sri Lanka is an island off the southeast coast of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is separated from India by the Indian Ocean, in which lies the chain of islands called Adam’s Bridge. Sri Lanka has an irregular surface with low-lying coastal plains running inland from the northern and eastern shores. The central and southern areas slope into hills and mountains. The highest peak is Pidurutalagala (2,524m/8,281ft).

Language

Sinhala, Tamil and English.

Religion

Buddhist majority (70%), with Hindu, Christian and Muslim minorities.

Government

Sri Lanka is a free, independent and sovereign nation with a population of 20,926,315 (July 2007 est.). Legislative power is exercised by a Parliament, elected by universal franchise on proportional representation basis. A President, who is also elected by the people, exercises executive power inclusive of defence. Sri Lanka enjoys a multi party system, and the people vote to elect a new government every six years.

National Flag

National Flag of Sri Lanka is the Lion Flag. A Lion bearing a sword in its right hand is depicted in gold on red background with a yellow border. Four Bo leaves pointing inwards are at the four corners. Two vertical bands of green and orange at the left end represent the minority ethnic groups. It is an adaptation of the standard of the last King of Sri Lanka.

National Flower

The Blue Water Lily - (Nymphaea stellata)

Social Conventions

Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. It is customary to be offered tea when visiting and it is considered impolite to refuse. Punctuality is appreciated. A small token of appreciation, such as a souvenir from home or company, is always welcomed. Informal, Western dress is suitable, except when visiting Buddhist temples, where modest clothing should be worn (eg no bare legs and upper arms). Visitors should be decently clothed when visiting any place of worship, and shoes and hats must be removed. Jackets and ties are not required by men in the evenings except for formal functions when lightweight suits should be worn.

Climate

Low Lands - tropical, average 27C
Central Hills - cooler, with temperatures dropping to 14C. The south-west monsoon brings rain to the western, southern and central regions from May to July, while the north-eastern monsoon is from December t0 January. Sri Lanka climate is ideal for holiday-makers throughout the year.

Currency

Sri Lanka follows decimal currency system in Rupees (Rs.) and cents (Cts.) with 100 cents equal to a rupee. Currency notes are available in the denominations of Rs.10,20,50,100,200, 50, 1000 & 2000. Coins are issued in values of Cts. 25 and 50 and Rs.1,2,5 and 10. The intervention currency continuously will be the US Dollar.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round three-pin plugs are usual, with bayonet lamp fittings.

International Dialling

+94

Visa

Residents from permitted countries are issued visas on arrival. Consult your local Sri Lanka embassy, consulate, tourist office or your travel agent.

Working Days

Five working days (Monday to Friday)

Business Hours

Government offices 9.00 am. - 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday