Destination Information Sri Lanka

Your stay abroad in Sri Lanka

Country information

Country information – Sri Lanka

Get involved in animal protection and nature conservation in Sri Lanka, in the midst of untouched nature. Sri Lanka is located in the Indian Ocean and can be seen as a true summer paradise due to its tropic climate, the unique nature and plenty of exotic plants and animals. Sri Lanka is surely the perfect place to experience an unforgettable adventure.



Geography

Geography Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an insular state which is located in the Indian Ocean, around 237 km east of the south peak of the Indian subcontinent. The population of Sri Lanka counts 20.3 Mio. citizens. The capital is Colombo, de jure it is Sri Jayewardenepura. The shortest distance between Sri Lanka and India is only 54.8 km, this part is also known as Palk Strait. The whole area of Sri Lanka is 445 km from North to South and 225 km from East to West.

Geomorphology/Geology

Sri Lanka can be divided into three territorial zones: The central highlands with their famous tea growing areas and mountains up to 2500 m, the fertile lowland zone and the coastal zone which is lined with fishing villages and palm-beaches. Sri Lanka's highest mountain is called Pidurutalagala which is 2524 m above sea level.


Flora & fauna

Flora and Fauna in Sri Lanka

Due to large numbers of endemic plants and animals Sri Lanka is considered as a “hot-spot of biodiversity”. According to the different rainfall areas the vegetation changes from West to East: In the West tropic vegetation can be found in areas with high quantity of precipitation, in the northern and eastern part of the island there is mainly xerophytic vegetation (plants which are adapted to extreme aridity).

Coco, rice, sugar cane, tea plants, indigo, tobacco, coffee, cinchona and plenty of herbs (cinnamon, chili, curcuma) are the most important cultivated plants in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's fauna is full of exotic species monitor lizards, crocodiles and giant snakes like the black-tailed python. People who are into bird-watching will be fascinated by wild-living crows, colourful parrots, cormorants and other exotic birds. Furthermore there are different primates, spotted deers and wild boars. In Sri Lanka there is one of the last places where highly endangered Asian Elephants and Sri-Lanka-Leopards can be observed in the wild.

 

In contrast to those cats, crocodiles, numerous parrots, peacocks and kingfishers as well as several species of monkeys and in particular many langurs can be seen in the whole country. The tropical rainforests of the southern region are home to Indian elephants and also different species of snakes.


Climate

Climate in Sri Lanka

The climate in Sri Lanka is tropical with different quantities of precipitation (depending on the monsoon-season). Temperatures vary from 16°C in Nuwara Eliya in the central highlands to 32°C in Trincomalee on the north coast. The average temperature in the country is between 28°C and 30°C. The coldest month is January, the hottest one is May.


Social geography

Population

The major part of Sri Lanka's population is Singhalese. According to the last census in 2012 74.9% of the people is Singhalese. The biggest ethnic minority is called Tamils (15.4%), which can be divided into Sri-Lanka-Tamils and Indian Tamils. The local Sri-Lanka-Tamils represent 11.2% of the population. They live mainly in the northern and eastern provinces. The Indian Tamils (4.2%) are descendants of Tamils who migrated from India to Sri Lanka during the time of British colonialism in order to work as plantation workers. Nowadays they live in the central highlands, in the tea growing areas. 9.2% of Sri Lanka’s people are Moors, a Tamil-speaking Muslim community whose people are descendants of Arabic traders. The indigenous people are called Vedda who are highly endangered due to assimilation towards Singhalese people.

Language

The three official languages in Sri Lanka are Tamil, Sinhala and English. English is widely used as lingua franca.

Economy

The main commercial resources in Sri Lanka are textiles, clothes, tea and noble stones.

Political situation and security

Sri Lanka is a presidential democracy with a strong position of the president. Today Sri Lanka's security-situations can be seen as stable. Nevertheless tourist should avoid demonstrations and other gatherings of people. Furthermore, Sri Lanka was declared malaria-free by the World Health Organization in 2016.

Religion

70.2% of Sri Lanka’s people are Buddhists, 12.6% Hindus, 9.7% Muslims and 7.4% Christians. Singhalese people are mainly Buddhists, Tamils follow Hinduism and Moors are all Muslims. Amongst Singhalese and Tamils there are some Christian minorities.


Tipps

Travel Tipps and Trivia

Time Zone

UTC +5:30 hours

In Sri Lanka there is no daylight saving time.

Currency

The currency in Sri Lanka is rupee. One rupee is 100 cents. For the current exchange rate please visit www.oanda.com

Units

All units accord to the metric system.

Electricity

In Sri Lanka the standard voltage is 230 Volt at a frequency of 50 Hertz. Before your departure you should check if you need any adapter for plug-types D, M and G.

Transport

Most cities in Sri Lanka are connected by railway lines which are run by the national railway society Sri Lanka Railways. Currently there are governmental initiatives to develop a highspeed-railway-network.

The national Sri Lanka Transport Board coordinates the bus system on the island.

The marine traffic system has got a length of 430 km. The biggest ports are located in Colombo, Trincomalee and Galle. Additionally there is an inland port in Kankesanturai.

In Sri Lanka there are twelve airports. Bandaranaike International Airport is Sri Lanka’s only international airport. It is located in Katunayake, 35 km East of Colombo. Sri Lankan Airlines is the national airline.

National holidays

  • January 12: Duruthu Poya
  • January 14: Thai Pongal (Hindu Harvest festival)
  • February 4: National Holiday
  • February 10: Navam Poya
  • February 24: Mahasivarathri
  • March 12: Medin Poya
  • March 13: Holi (Hinduism)
  • April 10: Bak Poya
  • April 12: Sinhala and tamilian New Year's festival
  • April 13: Sinhala and tamilian New Year's festival
  • Good Friday, Easter Sunday
  • May 1: Labour Day
  • May 10: Vesakh Poya
  • May 11: The Day after Vesahk Poya
  • June 9: Poson Poya
  • June 26: Eid-al-Fitr (Festival of Fast-Breaking)
  • July 8: Esala Poya
  • August 7: Raksha Bandhan (Hinduism)
  • August 7: Nikini Poya
  • August 14: Janmashtami (Hinduism)
  • August 25: Ganesh Chaturthi (Hinduism)
  • September 2: Eid-al-Adha
  • September 5: Binara Poya
  • September 21: Navaratri (Hinduism)
  • September 30: Dussehra (Hinduism)
  • October 5: Vap Poya
  • October 18: Diwali
  • November 3: Il Poya
  • December 1: Milad un Nabi
  • December 3: Unduvap Poya
  • December 24: Christmas Eve
  • December 25: Christmas

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do not underestimate the distances in Sri Lanka, even though they might seem short on the map. To get from point A to point B in Sri Lanka, you usually need hours or even days.
  • When you travel in the highlands, we recommend taking the train. It may be slow, but the reward is a breathtaking view.
  • Make sure that you check the common prices for food and other goods before you buy something. Otherwise it might happen that you are going to pay the double or even threefold price.
  • You should buy a local SIM-card. 3G-mobile-networks are well established in Sri Lanka.
  • Do not hesitate to try local food. Sri Lanka’s kitchen is famous for its rice- and curry-dishes.
  • If you see wild elephants, you should keep distance to them and not disturb.

Highlights Must-see places in Sri Lanka

Our top recommendations for you

Highlights

Highlights

Uda Walawe National Park

The broad grassland of Uda Walawe National Park appears to be a small piece of East Africa. There are herds of water buffalos, sunda deers, crocodiles and thousands of birds and elephants.

Anuradhapura

The ancient city of Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka’s cultural and religious center and most important historical heritage. The 2000 year-old Maha Bodhi tree and its well documented life-history is one of the most popular sightseeing-spots in Anuradhapura. Moreover you can see hundreds of old monasteries and stupas which emphasizes Anuradhapura’s significance as a historical center of power.

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park appears to be a secret place as the crowds mainly focus on Yala National Park. Not only the beautiful nature spots will take your breath away but also the diversity of wild animals such as crocodiles, elephants and plenty of bird species – truly a dreamland to every ornithologist!

Pilgrimage to the Adam's Peak

The 2243 m high Adam's Peak is not Sri Lanka’s highest mountain, but truly the most famous one. For many Buddhists as well as for many Muslims it is the most important place of pilgrimage in Sri Lanka. Buddhists consider Adam’s peak as Buddha’s footprint, many Muslims as Adam’s footprint. Nowadays there are many foreign tourists who join the pilgrims on their way to the summit to be rewarded by an overwhelming view.

Cultural Capital Kandy

Kandy is Sri Lanka's cultural capital. In one of many temples there is the holy tooth-relic, which is believed to be Buddha's tooth. For many Singhalese people this is the holiest place of pilgrimage on the island. Besides the relic tourist can explore plenty of interesting museums, beautiful lakes and botanic gardens.


Our project site at the Wasgamuwa National Park

The Wasgamuwa National Park in Sri Lanka is located in the districts Matale and Polonnaruwa in the northern Central province of the island state. Founded in 1984, the national park aims at providing a sanctuary and shelter for displaced wild animals. This happened in the course of the so-called “Mahaweli Development Projects” to which three other national parks belong as well. The Wasgamuwa National Park is characterized by its rich biodiversity: on an area of about 39.000 hectares you can not only watch the elephant herds for which the park is famous but also more than 150 different plant, 23 different mammal, 143 bird, and 50 butterfly species.

Geography

The Wasgamuwa National Park can be found in the northern Central province more precisely in the districts Matale and Polonnaruwa. 100 km southwest of the park is the city of Kandy. A neighbouring park is the Flood Plains National Park. In the park itself there are the rivers Mahaweli and Amban that serve the animals as a water source. The highest elevation is the Sudu Kanda with a height of 470 m. The park is composed of primary, secondary, and riverine forests as well as grasslands.

Climate

The Wasgamuwa National Park belongs to the climatic dry-zone of Sri Lanka. That means that the average temperature is about 28°C and rain falls mostly during the north-eastern monsoon from October to January. The time from July to September is dry season.

Flora and Fauna

The national park is characterized by a rich biodiversity. More than 150 different plant species can be found on the area, one of them being the centuries-old tamarind tree. Not only a number of plant species are domiciled in the park, but you can also watch many different animal species: about 150 elephants find shelter in the natural forests of the park. Other mammal species are amongst others the purple-faced langur, the sloth bear, the water buffalo, or the chital. Furthermore, the Wasgamuwa National Park is one of the most important bird sanctuaries of Sri Lanka. At least 143 different bird species can be found here, eight of them endemic, which means that they only exist in limited areas. 50 species of butterflies grace the scenery with their bright colours while 17 fish species frolic in the two rivers.

Interesting facts

  • The entrance fee to the Wasgamuwa National Park is 27 U.S. Dollar.
  • The best time to visit the national park is from February to April as well as from June to September. However, also the other months are great for a visit.
  • With its lakes and mountain ranges, the Wasgamuwa National Park is also an excellent destination for trekking fans.
  • The name “Wasgamuwa” is compounded of the words “Walasa” and “Gamuwa” which means – translated from the Singhalese – “sloth bear” and “forest”. However, sloth bears are quite rare in the park.
  • From the capital Colombo it is 210 km – a six-hour car ride – to the Wasgamuwa National Park.
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