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|
|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)|
|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.)
|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 Servicesand 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 Cardst||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.|
|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.
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.
Contact – Important
|Emergency Service||Telephone No|
|1. Police Emergency Hotlines||119/118|
|2. Ambulance /Fire (Colombo only)||110|
|3. Government Information Centre||119|
|4. Bandaranayake International Airport||011-2252861|
|5. Poisons Information Centre||011-2691111|
|6. Report Crimes||011-2691500|
|7. Accident Service General Hospital||011-2691111|
|8. Tourist Police||011-2421052|