Sri Lanka – Thing you should know about Sri Lanka

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Where is Sri Lanka?

Ever heard of Pearl of the Indian Ocean?

If not go search and you will come across a tiny island Called Sri Lanka which is situated in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka has been named the Pearl of the Indian Ocean and some call it the tear drop of the Indian ocean as well.

It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean.

It is placed right under the Indian the subcontinent.

To be very precise, the island is located south west of the Bay of Bengal and south east of the Arabian sea
Sri Lanka is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait.

The history says, there used to be a bridge that connected India and Sri Lanka but with time it has disappeared.

The geographical location of the island is at utmost importance to the country, due to its value when it comes to shipping and the weather

Where is Sri Lanka on the map? Where is Ceylon?

where is sri lanka on the map
where is sri lanka on a map

What was it called before Sri Lanka?

Tamraparni, is the name that was used by King Vijaya who was the first king of the island. It means Copper colored leaf.

Later It was adopted in Pali as Tambaparni. Also the history says, it used to be called Sinhaladeepa during the time of King Vijaya. It is derived from the fact that the King was from lion ancestry.

Another ancient name is Lankadeepa.

It is believed that Lankadeepa was used during the time of Gautama Buddha. Names like Lakdiva and Lakbima are also from that era.

In Indian Literature there are few names which were used to describe their neighboring island.

In Kautalya’s “Arthasastra” Sri Lanka was described as ” Parasamudra” which means beyond the ocean. In Greek history, names like “Palaesimoundu” and “Simoundu” has been used to describe Sri Lanka. Both those names were derived from Parasamudra.

Some famous Greek historian have also referred to Sri Lanka as Taprobane.

The term was derived from the name “Thambaparni”.

After the implementation of the Silk route, the Arabs used the term Serendib to describe Sri Lanka. It means the Island of Rubies. 
However, the most popular historical name that comes to mind is Ceylon.

The country was named Ceylon under the rulership of the British during 1815 to 1972.

The name Ceylon was derived from the word Zeyland or Seylan, which in return was derived from the Arabic word Saheelan. 

Map of Sri Lanka

map of sri lanka

Capital Of Sri Lanka

Whenever anyone mentions Sri Lanka, Its Colombo that comes to anyone’s mind.

But, Colombo is not the capital of the country.

The Capital of the country is Sri Jayawardhanepura Kotte.

Sri Lanka capital map
Map of the Sri Lanka Capital

It is located within the Urban area of the country’s economic capital, Colombo.

Kotte is not just another urban city in the country, it is a city filled with a lot of heritage and history.

The Kingdom of Kotte flourished and ruled over the whole country in the 15th century.

King Parakramabahu VI was the last King to unify the whole of Sri Lanka in the 1450 and he chose Kotte as his capital. it is believed that during the his ruling, Sri Lanka blossomed in literature.

Renown poets like Thotagamuwe Sri Rahule Thera lived during this era.
You could still find relics of the kingdom and the literature which was produced during that era is still be used and studied in the country.

However, it has slowly become a very modernized the city with all the facilities you need.

Also the location of Kotte, is ideal for people who work in Colombo which makes it a heavily resident city in the country. 

Sri Lanka Flag

The current Sri Lankan flag was adopted on the 22nd of May 1972. The designing was done under the direction of Nissanka Wijeratne who was secretary to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Chairman of the National Emblem and Flag Design Committee.

Sri lanka flag

It is mainly inspired by the flag of the Kingdom of Kandy, which was used during the 18th Century.

Each color and each symbol has it’s own meaning.

The Saffrom border and the four Bo leaves represent Buddhism which is the main religion of the country.

Four Bo leaves represent the four Buddhist concepts of Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upeksha.

The orange strip represent Sri Lankan Tamils and the Green Represent Sri Lankan Muslims.

The Lions and the maroon background represent to the majority of the country which is the Sinhalese. 

The symbol of the lion goes back to 486 BC when King Vijaya, landed on this island from Sinhapura (lioncity).

Since then the lion symbol has been used in the flag. 

Sri Lankan Population 

As a tiny island of just  62,710 square kilometers, we have a fairly high populations.

Currently its at 21,387,567 ( March 2020, according to Worldomedter.info).

It is estimated to go rise above 21.4 by mid year. The Population is denrity is 341 per Sq. Km.

However the total population of the island is equivalent to only 0.27% of the total world population. 
Sri Lanka is ranked 58 in the list of countries by population and the Median age in the country is 34 years. 

sri lanka population chart

Sri Lanka People

sri lanka people,people in sri lanka

Ayubowan” is a word that you will here when you make your way to this tiny beautiful island in the Indian Ocean.

Ayubowan simply means may you live long. This is how Sri Lankan’s greet one another. It’s special and unique and it says a lot about the people.

Generous, kind, smiling are few words that go together with Sri Lanka. These are not self proclaimed words but, true accolades the tourists who have visited Sri Lanka, has given. 

You could expect nothing short of overwhelming generosity and love from the locals. Despite your color, raise, nationality or even the language you speak, Sri Lankan’s would treat you with utmost respect and love.

In a country where majority live in harmony, these qualities have come from generation to generation.

It is genuine and these people enjoy making anyone feel like home.

From the time you reach our land, you would experience something very unique to us, Sri Lankan’s. You would always find enough and more people wanting to help you with anything you need.

You would find people who just smile and greet you wherever you look. From the time you land here until the time you leave, you will be taken care of, you wouldn’t even feel like you’re a tourist in a foreign land.

When you speak to many frequent travelers who come down to Sri Lanka, majority of them would say, it’s not the beautiful beaches, it’s not the picturesque mountains or the waterfalls, it’s the people who make us come back here all the time.

The recent past has been tough for tourism and the picture of Sri Lanka as a country.

The bombings which took place on Easter Sunday, brought back memories of the Civil war which lasted over 30 years.

The cultural ethnicity was once again highlighted during those times, where the affected Catholics held back and didn’t give into their rage and ignite another conflict that could go on to become something bigger.

These are few reasons why, Sri Lankan people are known as generous and nice people. 

Sri Lanka Language

The official languages are Sinhala and Tamil.

Sinhala is widely spoken in the southern, western and central parts of the island, while Tamil is commonly spoken in northern and eastern parts of the island.

Sinhala is believed one of the most beautiful languages in the whole world. 

The 70% of Sinhalese population speak their native language, Sinhala. Sinhala is also spoken among other ethnic groups on the island as a second language which makes it the most widely spoken language in Sri Lanka.

Sinhala is influenced by Pali and Sanskrit which goes hand in hand with Buddhism.

Tamil is spoken by about five million people on the island, which is about 15 percent of the population.

Tamil was brought by ancient settlers, tradesmen, invaders, foreign kings and immigrants which goes back centuries in history. 

Other than Sinhala and Tamil, Veddah is spoken by the Veddah people, who are a group of tribal hunter gatherers who lives in the forests of central Sri Lanka.

Veddah is closely related to Sinhala and both languages have a number of words borrowed from each other.

Majority of Sri Lankans are familiar with English, so you are unlikely to face communication issues with the locals. Sri Lankans learn English as a second language at school starting from primary grades.

Sri Lankan English is essentially British English with a little touch of local phrases and words.

Sri Lanka Religion  

There are four major Religions in Sri Lanka.

Religions in Sri Lanka as Percentage
Sri Lanka religions as percentage chart

religions in sri lanka
Major religions in Sri Lanka.

Buddhism – Main Religion in Sri Lanka

Majority of the locals are devoted followers of Buddhism. The country’s age long history has very close and important connection with Buddhism.  

According to chronicles, Buddhism was introduced into Sri Lanka somewhere in the 3rd century BCE by Mahinda Thera, son of Emperor Ashoka. He had arrived in the island during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa whose kingdom was Anuradhapura.

During this time Sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree was brought this land. Buddhism was seen spreading rapidly around the land.

The Pali Canon was first known to have been written in Sri Lanka an Indian Scholar, Buddhaghosa. 

The period between the 5th century and the 11th century, Sri Lanka suffered a dreadful era for Buddhism due foreign invaders. But, King Vijayabahu I of Polonnaruwa managed re-build the monasteries and stupas that were destroyed.

He also brought down a number of eminent elders were called in from Burma. After the Colonialism, The Sinhala Buddhist leaders along with Olcott established the Buddhist Theosophical Society in the year 1880.

Their mission was to establish Buddhist schools all over the island. By the end of year 1940, there were over 400 Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka. 

Other religions in Sri Lanka

During Colonial times, Sri Lanka had many christian priests come down here. Christianity make up 8% of Sri Lanka’s population, most are Catholics. Christianity took their first roots in the sixteenth century.

Under the Portuguese , Roman Catholicism was spread out on the Island with many Roman Catholic schools for the Sinhalese and the Tamils. When the Dutch took over, the Dutch Reformed Church was introduced. 

Hinduism is second most popular religion in Sri Lanka with a percentage 16% out of Sri Lanka’s population.

The religion is still dominant in the Northern and Eastern provinces. Hindus often create a shrine with icons dedicated to their chosen form of God.

Temples are usually dedicated to a primary deity. Today three Gods are widely seen as all powerful: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is regarded as the ultimate source of creation; Shiva also has a creative role alongside his function as destroyer.

Vishnu is seen as the preserver or protector of the universe. 

There is about 8% of Muslims living in Sri Lanka. The origins date back to the 15th century when Arab traders had controlled Sri Lanka’s trade market.

Many of these traders settled down in Sri Lanka, to spread of Islam. During the 16th century, many of their Muslim descendants were persecuted by the Portuguese.

Hence they were forced to migrate to the Central Highlands and to the east coast. There are two major denominations of Islam, the Sunni and Shia. Roughly 85% of Muslims are Sunni.

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5 thoughts on “Sri Lanka – Thing you should know about Sri Lanka”

    1. Hi John,
      Sri Lankan’s native languages are Sinhala and Tamil. But, you would be surprised to see many Sri Lankans understand English. Its fair to say at least more than 20% of the population speak fluent English. Majority of that 20% lives in the Urban cities but, you could find people around the tourists hotspots talking and responding well with the tourists.
      Since many locals are dependent on tourism, they have no choice but to brush up their English knowledge. It is fair to say that you wouldn’t get lost asking for directions in English nor would you find it hard to converse as much as you would in any other south Asian country.

    1. Hi Tatyana,

      Sri Lanka is one of the safest destinations in south Asia. Last year, there was a terrorist attack which killed more 350 Catholics on Easter Sunday. This was a one off attack which was planned by a Extremist group but, now the government and the authorities have take all measurer to eradicate the threat and now it has been neutralized.

      Hence, there was big increase of tourist towards the latter part of December. Sri Lankan’s are known for their hospitality. They make sure to treat you with utmost respect and love at all times.

  1. Perfect destination for solo travelers. locals are so friendly and helpful. easy navigation through the country as well. Just be mindful when traveling in tuk-tuks because they charge too much. You can books ubers basically from anywhere. Trains are quite old but it serves the purpose.

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