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About country Gallery Where to stay

The Blessed Land – that’s what Sri Lanka means, a name that’s 2,500 years old now. Many Europeans call this island, located in the Indian Ocean, paradise. If your version of vacation consists of hours upon blissful hours at a sun-drenched beaches, Sri Lanka’s resorts are just for you.

A Varied Paradise

In terms of total area, Sri Lanka is roughly the same as Lithuania. Some find the island to resemble a pear, others – a pearl, others still – a tear drooping down from the giant Indian subcontinent. Sri Lanka, situated near the equator, doesn’t have four square seasons. Both days and nights here are roughly twelve hours long.

The year is instead divided into the dry and the rainy seasons. When the wind and monsoon rains dominate in the country’s northeast from November to February, the sun shines in the southwest. And vice versa, when it’s the monsoon season in the southwest from May to September, the northeast is hot and dry.

The exotic Sri Lanka attracts travellers with the variety of its landscapes. The country has 2,500-metre-high mountains and wide and fertile plains, as well as steppes and dense jungles that turn into sandy beaches at the margins. The island’s shores are washed over by the calm and warm Indian Ocean.

Fauna here is very rich and highly varied. The locals live in harmony with nature. The entire island is like a large reserve, where hunting animals is forbidden. Here you’ll find not only elephants, but also leopards, wild cats, jackals, five species of monkey, and even sloth bears. There’s also a wide variety of birds including parrots, peacocks and cranes, and you can also see monitor lizards, crocodiles and many species of snakes and lizards.

Friendly Locals

Sri Lanka, home to over 20 million people, is around 75 % Sinhalese and 18 per cent Tamils. The Sinhalese trace their name to the word in Sanskrit that means Lion Nation. Despite the ominous name, the people are friendly and always smiling.

Tamils, residing mostly in the north and the mountainous central part, are restrained, industrious and dignified. Telling a Sinhalese woman from a Tamil one is fairly easy – married Tamil women paint two red dots on their foreheads, symbolising man and wife, whereas unmarried women decorate their foreheads with a single black dot. Tamil women also often have nose rings.

In Sri Lanka, people speak Sinhalese, Tamil and English. Street vendors are pesky, constantly pushing shoddy jewellery, wooden carvings, T-shirts and spices. If you want to buy something, make sure you haggle as prices are jacked up at least twice. For quality wares, try a crafts shop. Here you can also buy colourful masks made from light wood, worn during ritual dances.

The Island Made Famous by Cinnamon

Travelling from the north towards Kandy, you’ll see vast plantations of different spices. Arab merchants were the first to start trading in them. Since some of them settled down in this region, there are still many Muslims here to this day. In ancient times, spices were used as medicine, a food preservative, and, of course, as something to add flavour to dishes.

Cinnamon is the country’s main spice, which not only made it known, but also brought it some trouble. It was cinnamon that compelled the Portuguese to settle here at the beginning of the 16th century. In today’s spice gardens tourists can see nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, vanilla, clove and pepper trees. On the way, you can also meet women harvesting latex from rubber trees, and enjoy the sight of men jumping like acrobats from one coconut tree to the other via special ropes. That’s how palm tree sap is collected, which is later used to make palm wine and arak.

Sri Lankan Tea

No matter how important spices are to Sri Lanka, its business card is still tea. This green diamond began to be grown here in late 19th century by English colonizers. To transport it back to England they built an entire network of railroads, as well as over a thousand processing plants. Tea requires moist soil and a fairly cool climate – exactly the conditions found up in Sri Lanka’s mountains.

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