Glimpse of Sri Lanka
Shaped like a teardrop, the island country of Sri Lanka sits in the Indian Ocean, just off the southern tip of India. The country’s geographical position on the Indian Ocean trade route means that its culture has been influenced by the numerous visitors, traders and invaders who arrived here by sea.
The island’s earliest settlers came from north India in the 5th century BC, followed by Tamil invaders from south India in the 3rd century BC and then Arab traders from the Middle East in the 7th century AD. The Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialists arrived around 900 years later and left their mark on the country’s cultural and architectural heritage. The island continues to retain cultural ties with India, particularly in the North where the Tamil population is more concentrated and where Hinduism has a strong presence.
Despite its small land mass, Sri Lanka boasts a wide range of landscapes, from dense rainforests to hills covered with tea plantations. The country is home to a wealth of wildlife, notably elephants and leopards, and is also a paradise for birdwatchers. While the remains of the early Buddhist civilizations are some of the most popular sights – including Anuradhapura and Sigiriya – the island’s dazzling beaches are always a draw. The country also offers many adventure activities such as surfing, white-water rafting and hot-air ballooning.