Sri Lanka amongst the 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.


Official Name Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Government Type Republic
Location Latitude 5° 55. to 9° 50. north, Longitude 79° 42. to 81° 52., 650km north of the equator
Currency (code) Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
Independence 4 February 1948
Administrative Capital Sri Jayewardenepura (in the Colombo district)
Commercial Capital Colombo
Ethnic Groups Sinhalese 73.8%, Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%, Indian Tamil 4.6%, Sri Lankan Tamil 3.9%, other 0.5%, unspecified 10% (2001 census)
Languages Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%, other 8%
Note: English (a link language commonly) is used in government and spoken competently by about 10% of the population
Religion Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census)
Time Zone Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (Allowance should be made for summer-time changes in Europe.)
International Dialing +94
Climate Other than the hill country, Sri Lanka has a tropical climate of warm and humid weather.
Please visit www.meteo.gov.lk for more information.
Time Sri Lanka time is GMT + 5 ½ hours.
Banking Services and Currency
  1. Sri Lankan currency is comprised of coins; 25 and 50 cents, 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupee denominations and notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 rupee denominations. 
    The current exchange rates are as listed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka at www.cbsl.gov.lk.
  2. Banking hours are generally from Monday to Friday (0900-1500 hours). Some banks are open on Saturday mornings. The state-owned commercial banks of Sri Lanka are the Bank of Ceylon (www.boc.lk) and the People’s Bank (www.peoplesbank.lk).
  3. The most internationally recognised currencies and Traveller’s Cheques can be exchanged at the State/Commercial Banks at the Bandaranaike International Airport.
  4. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are located throughout the country and major credit and debit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are located in some hotels as well.
Credit Cards Most hotels, restaurants and shopping centres accept VISA/ Master Card/ AmeX credit cards. Some establishments may try to add a surcharge, which is illegal.
Electricity Supply The power supply is 220-240V, 50Hz. A step-down transformer is needed to convert the current to 110-120V. Delegates are advised to bring their own electrical adaptors if required.
Postal Service There are post offices located throughout the country. In addition to these main post offices, stamps and mailing facilities are available at most major hotels.
Smoking Smoking is not permitted in all public places including institutions, public buildings and in all public vehicles.
Business and Shopping Government offices are open from Monday to Friday (08:30-16:15 hours). Shopping complexes are open from Monday to Saturday (10:00-20:00 hours). Certain shops are open for a limited duration on Sundays.
Telecommunication Facilities
  1. The telecommunication services of Sri Lanka will cover the full range of telecommunication needs of the delegates. These services include satellite/ mobile cellular/ wired/ broadband/ ADSL/ video-conferencing, etc. Sri Lanka has also deployed 3G/3.5G/4G mobile services. Before subscribing for international roaming, it is advisable to ascertain device compatibility, as well as the roaming facility with the relevant service providers in Sri Lanka. Please visit www.trc.gov.lk for further information.
  2. All mobile phones of the GSM standard, other than North American ‘dual-band’ phones, are compatible with the digital cellular networks in Sri Lanka.
  3. To obtain a mobile phone SIM, it is required to submit a copy of your passport data page.
Medical Services Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world with free healthcare and education, both of which have been national priorities for decades. OPD facilities are readily available in public (general) hospitals situated in Colombo, with laboratory and radiology facilities common in most. All doctors and nurses in the government hospitals are qualified and trained. For emergencies, especially accidents, it is highly recommended to go directly to General hospital accident services as they are equipped with the staff and facilities to handle emergencies.

A large number of Private hospitals also in operation in Colombo. They provide much more luxurious service than government hospitals. Some of the best known private hospitals are Nawaloka Hospital, Asiri Hospital, Lanka Hospitals.

Health precautions when you are here.....
Water Tap water is not safe to drink, and boiling and filtering is sometimes done too hastily in some hotels and restaurants, so the best solution is to drink bottled water.
Sunburn When you flop onto the beach or poolside lounger for a spot of sunbathing, always remember to apply a sunscreen product with a sun protection factor of at least 15.
Local Health Care Minor health problems can always be treated by doctors with practices in the hotel.
Travellers With Special Needs Travellers with special needs, especially if they visit Sri Lanka without a companion, should note that the country has relatively few facilities for disabled people, although greater awareness and improvements are evolving. There is no need to worry at Colombo Airport as wheelchairs and assistance in boarding and disembarking are available. Buildings, offices, and banks are becoming better-equipped with wheelchair ramps and suchlike. If you aren’t travelling with a companion, you'll find that Sri Lankans will be only too eager to assist.
Tips for Travelling Compared with many other countries it is relatively easy and safe for women to travel around Sri Lanka, even on their own, though most people find it an advantage to travel with at least one companion. 

Sri Lanka’s society is conservative and many Sri Lankans will judge ladies by their dress style. The short skirt and figure hugging blouse are considered to be worn by someone who has loose morals.
Getting Around

Although Sri Lanka is small in size travelling around the island can be frustrating and time consuming. The country’s narrow roads, congested with pedestrians, cyclists and trishaws make travelling difficult. However, once you leave the hustle and bustle of Colombo, you can enjoy many scenic drives around the coastal line or in the hill country. Sri Lanka is beautiful and even though small in size offers visitors many travel options. Now it's possible to do a city tour of Colombo as well. Travel options;

Trains connect Colombo with all tourist towns, but first-class carriages, air conditioning and dining cars are available on only a few. New fast services operate on the principal routes, including an intercity express service between Colombo and Kandy, Colombo and Jaffna.

Traffic drives on the left. Flashing lights mean that the driver is asserting right of way.

An extensive network of services to most parts of the Island and within the Colombo city limit is afforded with reasonable quality by the Sri Lanka Central Transport Board (tel: (11) 258 1120; website: www.transport.gov.lk). Long distance services are operated from Colombo at the Pettah Central Bus Depot. There are two services, one operated by the Sri Lanka Transport Board and the other operated by private bus companies. The private bus station is located close to the Central Depot. Most of the buses have air-conditioning.

Taxis are metered and operated by few companies. If you need a taxi, please call for a cab services company.

Trishaws (Tuktuks)
Ideal for short journeys within towns and cities, and for short excursions, the country’s many trishaws would be happy to offer you a ride. The vehicles are mainly Indian-made Bajaj rickshaws. Most trishaws are metered. Always agree on a fare beforehand, if it not a metered one. Most drivers offer a decent fare, charging approximately Rs. 50 per kilometre.


Emergency Contact - Important telephone numbers

Emergency Service Telephone No
i. Police Emergency Hotlines 119/118
ii. Ambulance /Fire (Colombo only) 110
iii. Government  Information Centre 1919
iv. Bandaranayake International Airport 011-2252861
v. Poisons Information Centre 011-2691111
vi. Report Crimes 011-2691500
vii. Accident Service General Hospital 011-2691111
viii. Tourist Police 011-2421052