This rich and fascinating country that seems to have everything a traveller could desire. This country is one of the best safari destinations outside of Africa with an abundance of wildlife squeezed into its 26 national parks there are verdant rainforests, misty hills amid fertile tea plantations and miles upon miles of dazzling beaches. You’ve got a perfect holiday destination squeezed into an island a quarter of the size of the UK!
What could be more interesting the country is affordable and full of delicious cuisine as well as intriguing history? The people have dealt with war, disaster and all the challenges of a developing south-Asian country – and they have done it with grace and humility. Despite the nation’s recent turmoil, the country and its people are moving quickly forward.
As we wind up our series on this tiny tropical island, we reflect on our favourite interesting facts about Sri Lanka.
1. Sri Lanka was first colonised by the Portuguese in 1505, then the Dutch in 1658 and then the British in 1796. Finally, the country gained full independence in 1948.
2. Sri Lanka used to be called Ceylon which is a transliteration of Ceilao, the name of the country under the island’s first colonial rulers, Portugal. It changed its name to Sri Lanka when it became a republic in 1972.
3. The oldest living tree known to be planted by man is in Sri Lanka. Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura has been tended continuously for over 2,000 years. It was grown from a cutting brought from Bodh Gaya in India, the tree under which Buddha is said to have found enlightenment.(Source: Lonely Planet).
4. The world’s first female prime minister was Sri Lankan. In 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the sixth Prime Minister of Ceylon and the world’s first female prime minister.(Source: The Guardian).
5. In 2016, the World Health Organisation declared Sri Lanka as malaria-free. Sri Lanka had been among the most malaria-affected countries in the mid-20th century, but the country’s Anti Malaria Campaign successfully targeted the mosquito-borne parasite that causes the disease.(Source: The Guardian).
6. One of the more racy facts about Sri Lanka is that the county searches Google for the word ‘sex’ more than any other country in the world.(Source: Google Trends)
7. Sri Lanka may once have been physically connected to India. Hindu devotees believe the area between India and Sri Lanka – now known as Adam’s Bridge – was built millions of years ago by Lord Ram and an army of monkeys. Instead, scientists and archaeologists believe it to be a natural formation of sand and stone.
8. Because of its unique shape and position to the south of India, Sri Lanka is known as the ‘Teardrop of India’.
9. Adam’s Peak is the most sacred mountain in the country. It stands at 2,243m (797ft) and holds significance in several major religions thanks to the curious depression at its summit, known as the Sri Pada or Sacred Footprint. Buddhists believe the impression to be Buddha’s, Muslims claim it as the footprint of Adam’s, while Hindus believe it belongs to Shiva. Christians have also claimed it for St Thomas.
10. Sri Lanka was the second-worst hit country by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. More than 30,000 people were killed with over half a million displaced.