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Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, the old Ceylon!

  • Colombo is the capital of the Island country Sri Lanka (it used to be called: Ceylon), with a population of 1.2 million. It is a busy town, with very noisy honking cars, dusty and full of people. Friendly people, who will give you a flower without prompting or without any other motive than to be friendly. But also full of people trying to make a buck. Or take it out of your pocket, without you noticing it! Beware of pickpockets! The country holds 18.350.000 million people (1996) in an area of roughly 435 x 225 kilometers. The total land area is 65.610 sq. kilometer. The highest mountain is Pidurutalagala at 2524 meters. The international airport is near Colombo (Katunayako). Products: Tea, ebony wood, statuettes, jewelry, orchids, teak, silk wood. Some parts are better to leave aside, as they are very dangerous, due to terrorists (Tamil Tigers). Lonely Planet issues the following urgent warning: Travel Warning: Bomb Blasts Fighting between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE (Tamil Tiger) faction, and the breakdown of their cease-fire agreement in January, means that the north and east of the country are particularly dangerous. However, Colombo has also experienced a number of bombings lately - most recently on June 6 when an explosion on a bus killed more than 20 people. On May 26, a peak-hour commuter train was bombed resulting in eight deaths and more than 70 people injured. A bomb blast killed 26 people on a bus in peak hour traffic on April 25; earlier in the month, a suicide bomb attack near the city killed some 14 people and seriously injured over 90. On February 3, a suicide bomber killed at least 11 people and injured nearly 100 at Colombo's main train station, while a bomb attack at the city zoo occurred earlier in the day. Travellers should exercise extreme caution, especially in crowded public places; monitor local news sources and heed any local warnings regarding safety.

  • Money: Sri Lankan Rupee (SLRs). 1 US$ is about 60 Rupee (1996)
  • Time compared to GMT: + 5 hours 30 minutes.
  • Voltage: 230 V, 50 Hz. Bring a universal adaptor!
  • Magnificent palm tree fringed beaches can be found anywhere. Some of the most famous are: Negambo, Mount Lavinia, Unawatuna, Trincomaler, Kalkudah. In fact, there are many more. Too many to mention here. Make sure that you don't burn. Make your stays in the sun short ones to start off with!

  • Language: Sinhala. English is also spoken by most people.
  • Religion: Buddhist: 69%, Hindu 15 %, Christian 8%, Muslim 8%.
  • Health: Within Colombo, the risk of Malaria is neglectable. However, outside the city one must have protection. Check with your health center. Also, use mosquito bed nets, wear light clothes that cover most of the body and at night: try to stay indoors. Do not wear after shave or perfumes, These attract mosquitos as do dark colored clothing. Other injections are not required, however, check with your health center. Yellow Fever may be smart, as well as hepatitis and tetanus. Cholera is no longer needed. Do not drink water from the tap. In fact, boil all your water and filter it. Or use bottled mineral water only. And make sure it was sealed by the factory. Otherwise you may pay for a bottle of tap water after all.

  • Visum: Only a valid passport is required. Upon arrival, a visum is granted for a maximum of 90 days. However, travellers are expected to have sufficient funds for their stay as well for their return trip and may have to prove this.

  • Activities and tips: Shopping, fishing, swimming, sightseeing, temples, such as the Buddhist Cave Temple at Dambulla, the Colombo Zoo at Dehiwala, Horton Plains Natural Reserve, Peak Wilderness. Try to learn about Sri Lanka's history. It was occupied by many other nations, such as the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English. Museums will show you a lot, like the National Museum and the Art Gallery. Sinhalese dancing (Kandy), Devil Dancing (ritualistic exorcism) in Colombo or Ambalangoda, Wood carving (there are many little "factories"), weaving, pottery and metalwork. Gem stones (f.i. "Moon Stones"). For masks go to Ambalangoda and for the gem trade visit Ratnapura. Beware of food. It is often very, very spicy! In fact fiery hot! Go to Kandy, an interesting city with the famous Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) temple, where the most important religious relic of Sri Lanka is kept: the sacred tooth of Buddha. There is much, much more: Thuparama Dagoba, the oldest temple in Anuradhapura, the Jetavanarama Dagoba, the largest remaining structure, over 100 meters high and housed an estimated 3000 monks at one time, the remains of the ancient lakeside city of Polonnaruwa, 75 km southeast of Anuradhapura, the rock fortress of Sigiriya, the beach resort Hikkaduwa, etc. etc. Scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, wind surfing, sailing, trekking.


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Copyright © 1998-2011 Luuk Francken
Map Sri Lanka: permission for use granted by
Created: April 14, 1998. Updated: december 23 2010

Copyright © 1998-2018 Luuk Francken