Marco Polo famously described Sri Lanka as one of the world's finest islands. It's a colorful country full of rich history, culture, and natural resources. While it's small, there's a lot of nature, yesteryear, and beauty to see in Sri Lanka.
The tropical island has a history that dates back many, many years. It was in the 6th century B.C. that the first Sinhalese came to Sri Lanka, most likely from northern India. And, the introduction of Buddhism preceded 250 B.C. Being close to the Indian subcontinent has made close cultural interaction easier from ancient times between Sri Lanka and India.
Other Asian civilizations have had cultural influences on Sri Lanka. Arabs called it Serendib. Greek geographers referred to it as Taprobane. And, later on, European mapmakers named it Ceylon, which is a name that's still used for trade purposes occasionally.
Twenty years of civil war, as well as a fragile ceasefire, should have left more noticeable scars; however, it appears implausibly peaceful.
There are many reasons to visit Sri Lanka, including:
Watch spinner dolphins leaping about in Kalpitiya, or dive with the blue whales in season. Sri Lanka is also home to 5,800 wild elephants, and the greatest concentration of leopards worldwide. You can see these in Yala National Park, along with buffalo and sloth bears.
Find cave paintings and Buddha statues filling the Dambulla Buddha caves, which are amazingly atmospheric.
Volunteering at an elephant sanctuary will be the kindest way to explore the elephants. You can find more information about positive projects through Working Abroad (workingabroad.com).
Sigiriya, also referred to as Lion's Rock, is a rock palace and fortress found in the Matale district. You can climb up to the ancient ruins, surrounded by ponds, gardens, and magnificent frescoes. One of the best ancient sites to visit for this country is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can head up to the top of Sigiriya, and see the dramatic, wondering views of the jungle's rolling hills below.
This is the place to go if you're looking to see Sri Lanka's big cats. You'll find the greatest concentration of leopards here, and it's also an essential sanctuary for aquatic birds and elephants. You'll also find different creatures running around the forest areas and grassy plains of the park, including:
When you're ready to escape the lowlands and coast of the tropical climate, you can head for the hills with their archingly green charms. You'll find rain-forested peaks and verdant tea plantations, if you're looking for a spectacular train ride. If you want the coast and tropical climate, head on over to the fabulous beaches.
Here you'll find the often largely untraveled, dazzlingly white island where no matter you go, you're surrounded by sand. And if you wish to beat the inevitable languor, you can dive and surf the world-class sites without the crowds for some peace and tranquility.
Last, but not least, don't forget about the rubber plantations. Sri Lanka's natural rubber industry is one of the enduring colonial legacies, which provides the country with sustained socioeconomic benefits.
Sri Lanka's traditional rubber growing districts are:
The rubber industry links sophisticated industrial manufacturing with traditional tree crop agriculture in a strongly interdependent manner that's made both sectors more competitive and stable in the global marketplace.
Did you know Sri Lanka is also a huge supplier of natural latex to the U.S.? Its rubber sector is its third largest export. Sri Lanka has a well established natural rubber industry with a well-organized infrastructure comprising of all supporting institutes in public and private sector.
Natural latex comes from rubber trees. In fact, the most essential part of the manufacturing process of natural latex foam is the rubber tree. And, rubber trees are very economically valuable, and have spread into just about all tropical areas worldwide, including Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has the perfect climate to cultivate rubber trees, and because of this, it has become a major producer of natural latex. Sri Lanka prides itself in manufacturing numerous valuable rubber products through raw rubber processing, including:
You might say the country has been "hiding in plain sight", though Lonely Planet listed Sri Lanka as the best country to visit in 2019. But, many travelers have passed through while they journeyed elsewhere, and years of uncertainty have kept the country off many travelers' itineraries. However, today that's all changed. The country is quickly moving forward with more individuals discovering it's myriad charms.