Sri Lanka is an island state in located off the south coast of India, in the northern Indian Ocean. This state offers a tactical naval connection between Southeast and West Asia, owing to its position in the course of key sea routes. The capital, Sri-Jaywardenapura-Kotte, is the official seat of government for this republic and unitary state, which is administered by a semi-presidential system. However, the adjacent city (and former capital) of Colombo is often referred to as the capital, since Sri-Jaywardenapura-Kotte is a suburb or satellite city.
The written history of Sri Lanka starts in the sixth century BC, when the first Sinhalese, probably from Northern India, arrived on the island. A great civilisation developed in the cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, and Buddhism was introduced around the mid-third century BC. A south Indian dynasty founded a Tamil kingdom in northern Sri Lanka in the fourteenth century. The island changed hands between the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British in the intervening centuries, and became independent as Ceylon in 1948. The name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972.
The hill country, pristine beaches and archaeological sites of Sri Lanka draw people from around the world. Tourism started to increase in 2011 and is likely to climb further in the upcoming years. The Cultural Triangle of Anuradhapura, Dambulla and Polonnaruwa and the major cities of Colombo, Galle and Kandy and a lot of the southern beach towns have good tourist amenities, and the roads connecting several of those destinations are getting better.
The country’s main stock index has been steadily rising, with an inflow from foreign investors. The violent, long civil war that tore the country apart for 25 years is over, and the economic recovery has been amazingly fast. The signs of renewal are plain, and new construction can be found everywhere. In spite of these gains, P.B. Jayasundara, Secretary of the Sri Lanka Ministry of Finance recently called for reform in public sector administration and management, calling it a “dire need.”
Still, the people’s resilience is turning out to be one of the country’s greatest assets, even better than its natural riches and cultural treasures. Sri Lankans are positive and strong-minded despite their history of civil war and the 2004 tsunami. New York Times named this island the top place for visitors in 2010 and the exquisite beauty of the country means tourists won’t be overlooking it for much longer.
Sri Lanka is home to eight UNESCO heritage sites, and this ancient island is littered with well-preserved historical ruins and cultural monuments, including restored ancient irrigation systems consisting of immense manmade rainwater reservoirs. The island also boasts tropical rain forests and strict wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves.
The main gateway to Sri Lanka is Bandaranakaya International Airport, located in Katunayake, 35 kilometres north of Colombo. The island’s national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines, uses the airport as a hub. Various international airlines provide direct international air services from destinations such as London, Dubai, Frankfurt and Jakarta on a daily basis. There are also excellent connections to Sri Lanka from several major cities in Europe and Asia.
flickr image by Rainbirder
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