Sri Lanka may be a small country – the UK is the size of 4 Sri Lankas – but the choice of things to do around the island is overwhelming. Here are a few facts about this wonder of gems:
Despite it’s small size, Sri Lanka has 26 national parks with a plethora of endemic and migratory animals. No wonder it’s considered one of the best places outside of Africa to go on a safari. It also has a flourishing rain forest, lush tea plantations, sparkling beaches, and boasts 8 UNESCO world heritage sites.
Sri Lanka was formerly named Ceylon which came from its Portuguese and British colonizers. The Portuguese first named it as Ceilão, then the British changed it to Ceylon. Since 1972, though, the country has officially known as Sri Lanka; “Sri” is an honorary prefix while “Lanka” is how people in the ancient times referred to the country.
Food in Sri Lanka is considered some of the spiciest in the world so if you have a low tolerance, it could be a bit of a challenge. Food here wasn’t always this spicy though. It may be hard to believe, but locals didn’t always make dishes that make your mouth and lips tingle with heat! It was actually the Portuguese that introduced locals to cooking with chillies.
Don’t be deterred if a local is shaking their head at you from side to side when speaking with them. In most countries, it’s seen as ‘no’, but here in Sri Lanka, it means yes or acknowledgement of what you’re saying. It may be a little confusing at first but you’ll get used to it quickly enough.
According to the World Health Organization, Sri Lanka is considered a public health success story. Historically, the island recored 1.5 million cases of malaria and claimed 80,000 lives. It was a long process but Sri Lanka has finally been declared malaria free as of 2016.
Sri Lanka has the highest literacy rate in South Asia at 92%, which is one of the highest rates in all of Asia. Here, education is seen as a right and the government has gone as far as to write it into the constitution. Education is also free for all students who attend any government-run school.