Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, island country lying in the Indian Ocean, and separated from peninsular India by the Palk Strait.
At a crossroads of maritime routes traversing the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has been exposed to cultural influences from other Asian civilizations. Ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobane. Arabs referred to it as Serendib. Later European mapmakers called it Ceylon, a name still used occasionally for trade purposes. It officially became Sri Lanka in 1972. In 1948, after nearly 150 years of British rule, Sri Lanka became an independent country.
The distinctive civilization of Sri Lanka, with roots that can be traced back to the 6th century BCE, is characterized by two factors: the preservation of Theravada Buddhism (the orthodox school of Buddhism having its literary traditions in the Pali language) and the development over two millennia of a sophisticated system of irrigation in the drier parts of the country. This civilization was further enriched by the influences of Hinduism and Islam.
Sri Lanka, the nature’s treasure chest is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Sri Lanka’s written history exceeds 2550 years. Its pre-history consist of planned cities, magnificent palaces, and expansive man made reservoirs, stunning temples and monasteries, green gardens, hard to believe monuments and works of art are characteristic of the rich and jubilant lives the celebrated monarchy of Sri Lanka lived.
Set in the Indian Ocean in South Asia, the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka has a history dating back to the birth of time. It is a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes and where nature’s beauty remains abundant and unspoilt. Few places in the world can offer the traveller such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location. Within a mere area of 65,610 kilometres lie 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometres of coastline - much of it pristine beach - 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 350 waterfalls, 25,000 water bodies, to a culture that extends back to over 2,500 years. Sri Lanka continues to emerge as one of the world’s best tourist destinations with accolades from various travel guides and travel magazines including Lonely Planet and National Geographic Traveller. Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka as its best tourist destination for year 2013 while National Geographic Traveller featured Sri Lanka in its UK edition highlighting 21 must-see places. Sri Lanka also topped the best 13 locations selected by British Airways and the Air service resumed direct flights to the island from March 2013. With many UNESCO heritage sites, beaches, wildlife parks and hill country resorts bottled up in to a small space Sri Lanka is undoubtedly one of the best holiday destinations waiting to be discovered and celebrated.