19 facts about Sri Lanka to read up on before your trip
Sri Lanka is one of the most visited countries in Asia. With its fascinating history, incredible nature, and smiling people it never fails to attract tourists. Tourism in Sri Lankan started back in the 70s and the number of tourists visiting the country is growing every day.
For this reason, you may have already read a lot about Sri Lanka, but how much do you actually know about Sri Lanka? Did you know that Sri Lankans eat more bread than rice? Did you know that the literacy rate in Sri Lanka is 93.7 percent? Which should not be underestimated if we consider that Sri Lanka is a Third World country. Any idea what Sri Lanka actually means? No? Then you’d better read these interesting facts about Sri Lanka to get clued in before you go.
1. Civil war
Sri Lanka suffered a lot in the past due to civil war between the north and the south. It came to an end only in May 2009. The war lasted for over 25 years causing significant hardships for the population, environment, and the economy. Evidence of the civil war in Sri Lanka can still be seen in the northern part of the country. When I visited Sri Lanka for the first time after the war I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my childhood home on Beach road in Jaffna (photos above). I mean, I was really shocked and sad.
2. Tigers in Sri Lanka
Despite what people think, Sri Lanka has no tigers. The only predators of the island are the leopards, and they are commonly seen in the jungles of Sri Lanka. The only ones who called themselves the tigers of Sri Lanka were the northern warriors during the times of the civil war.
3. Bread consumption.
Sri Lankans eat more bread than rice. Sri Lankans are crazy about bread and they eat bread for breakfast and dinner as a main dish. The Sri Lankan bread is called Roast Paan. To your surprise it is not commonly seen in the tourist areas.
4. Tea production
The country produces tea year-round and the total tea production is around 340 million kilograms per year. Sri Lankan tea, widely known as “Ceylon Tea,” has a unique place in the world global market.
5. Literacy rate.
Despite being a third world country, the literacy rate in Sri Lanka is 93.7 percent. Primary and secondary schools are free of charge and uniforms and books are provided by the Government.
6. Museums and National Parks or monuments.
Sri Lankans pay only a symbolic price (not even half a dollar) to access museums and national parks. Meanwhile, students pay nothing. Don’t you find it an exceptional way to make knowledge accessible to all Sri Lankan citizens?
Sri Lankans have a very bad habit of dumping their garbage everywhere; it seems to me that they have a special preference for any kind of water spots. I would like to understand why they pollute their own environment like that. Is it a lack of environmental education or is it that the government doesn’t provide a proper way for disposal?
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8. Buildings embellish.
Sri Lankan culture doesn’t care about taking care of the back sides of buildings. They often embellish the front sides but abandon that which in their opinion is the non-seen area.
9. Stilt fishermen of Sri Lanka.
Know that the tradition of Sri Lankan Stilt Fishing is almost dying. Let’s say that there are no real stilt fishermen left nowadays. Now, it has all become a tourist attraction.
10. Crayfish and lobsters.
The traditional Sri Lankan dishes do not include lobster or crayfish. And they also don’t eat mussels or clams. Did you know that? You will find these items only in the tourist areas. Try a walk in a traditional fish market; you will have the confirmation of what I am saying.
11. Cold and hot.
It’s often thought that Sri Lanka is a warm country. Yes, that is partially true, but there are cities in Sri Lanka where the temperature is low and you need a weighty wool sweater or even a jacket. Don’t worry if you haven’t brought it with you from home, because there are shops where you can buy some winter clothes.
12. Bus and public transportation.
Sri Lanka is well connected by bus. The Sri Lankan bus routes cover more than 90% of the country, so they can take you everywhere. For our trips in Sri Lanka we use tuk tuks only for short distances; we favoured using public transport . At first glance it sounded challenging and stressful. But as the days went by, we quickly realized that getting around Sri Lanka by local bus is easy and it’s absolutely a great way to experience the real Sri Lankan culture.
13. Betel chewing
A habit to chew “betel” leaves and nuts is common in Sri Lanka. They chew it and they spit it everywhere. It is quite an eyesore. Betel is a stimulant drug with effects similar to cocaine and tobacco. In a nutshell, it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. According to traditional Ayurveda medicine, chewing betel leaf (we are talking about one leaf a day) is a remedy against bad breath ,but misuse can lead to oral cancer. You tell that to the Sri Lankans…
14. Couples often wear the exact same outfit.
Couples in Sri Lanka often wear the exact same outfit. Same shoes, same shirt, same pants, maybe same underwear. It’s normal to see Sri Lankan same-dressed couples going around and taking pictures of themselves on the beach or wherever. When they cannot dress the same, they at least wear the same colour. Obviously, if you only go around in the tourist areas you won’t ever see this.
15. Rispect for elders.
One of the facts about Sri Lanka is that the oldest men and women are always to be respected; even when they say bullshit, you should keep quiet and listen and even obey. During some special occasions or simply while greeting each other Sri Lankans may reach down and touch the elder’s feet as a sign of respect. This is known as ‘worshipping elders.’
16. Sri Lanka’s meaning.
The current name of Sri Lanka was established in 1972. Lanka means island, and Sri means resplendent. So, Sri Lanka means Resplendent Island. That been said, the word Sri Lanka is used only in the English and Sinhala languages, meanwhile in Tamil it is said Ilaṅkai.
17. Sri Lanka is not India.
Even if the ancestors are Indians, over the years Sri Lanka has developed its own national identity with its own languages, its own food, and its own culture. In this era of tourism and travels, it doesn’t make sense to mix them up. It is like confusing an American with a Mexican simply because they are neighbouring countries. You understand what I mean? After reading this blog post about facts about Sri Lanka, I hope that you will have a better understanding of why Sri Lanka is not India.
18. Full moon holiday
Full moon day is called Poya day and it is a national holiday. A Poya Day is the name given to the Buddhist full moon holiday called ‘Uposatha’, it is celebrated monthly in recognition of the moon being at it’s fullest point.
19. The world’s first female premier was Sri Lankan
Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike was the world’s first female head of government! She was Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for three times, from 1960 to 1965, 1970 to 1977, and 1994 to 2000. She spent 40 years in political life. She resigned on 10 August 2000. Exactly two months later she died, aged 84, of a heart attack
So, there you have it! Not only does Sri Lanka have fascinating history, incredible nature, and smiling people, but it has an interesting culture too. If you can think of any more facts about Sri Lanka, please leave them in the comments!