Variously called the emerald isle and green paradise, Sri Lanka is really a country like no other. Culturally and naturally rich, the island has long been famous for its precious gems. Through history this southern neighbour of India has been conquered by Indians, Portuguese, Dutch and British who left their marks here, making for a delightful mix of ancient cities, monuments and atmospheric colonial architecture.
Tourism is one of the major industries here and it took a major hit after the 2004 Tsunami which ravaged the coastline of the island. But the lure of this beautiful land draws tourists again. The beautiful beaches, tropical forests, ancient culture and heritage sites are just some reasons to visit the country.
In ancient times the Arabs referred to this island as Serendib, the origin of the word 'serendipity'. The name Sri Lanka means 'resplendent land' and the island nation truly lives up to the epithet. A multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, the native Sinhalese in Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist but there is a Tamil minority which adheres to Hinduism. . Traditional arts and crafts like woodcarving, weaving, pottery and metalwork are highly developed. The archaeological sites show Buddhist, Hindu and colonial heritage of the nation. There are Dutch forts and churches as well as British clubs and courthouses. There are seven World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, which include ancient cities, temples and the Sinharaja rainforests. Kandy, with the 16th Century Temple of the Tooth; Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka's first capital city; Galle, Negombo and Pollonaruwa; Adam's Peak, just out of Colombo; Sigiriya Fort, and so goes on the long list.
The warm and friendly people are unassuming and befriend the tourist easily and make you feel at home. The Sri Lankan cuisine is irresistible. And then of course, there's enough sun and surf here for an ideal beach holiday. Bentota and Hikkaduwa are two of the famous spots, but luxurious beach resorts are located all over the country and are perfect destinations for rest and relaxation. Adventure sports facilities here are topnotch, from windsurfing, diving and snorkeling to rafting, canoeing and trekking, there are thrills galore! The 103 rivers and streams in Sri Lanka create some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world.
Sri Lanka is indeed a photo opportunity of a lifetime with it natural wealth and cultural beauty. It has many national parks and sanctuaries with exotic wildlife like Elephants, Leopards, Sloth Bears and a great variety of tropical birds.