Sri lanka General InformationHistory
Sri Lanka has more than 2,500 years of continuous written history by means of the Mahawamsha, and was also mentioned in several ancient Indian texts. One of the most famous is the Ramayana, in which the island, which was referred to as Lanka, was the island fortress of the evil king Ravana, who captured the wife of Rama an incarnation of the Hindu God, Vishnu. Legend has it that Hanuman the monkey flew over to Lanka and destroyed the capital by setting it on fire, while Rama and his remaining troops later crossed over from the mainland by building a land bridge across the sea. Evidence for the existence of a land bridge has since been found by NASA satellite images.
The Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century BC, probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced beginning in about the mid-3rd century BC, and a great civilization developed at such cities as Anuradhapura (kingdom from c.200 BC to c.1000 AD) and Polonnaruwa (c.1070 to 1200).
Occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century, the island was ceded to the British in 1796, and became a crown colony in 1802. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; the name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972.
With end of the 30 year prolonged bitter separatist war in the May 2009 it seems this island nation is on a new chapter of its history.
Since Sri Lanka is a tropical country, you can expect the rain anytime of the year in most parts. However, the two major rainy seasons are North-East monsoon (December to March) and South-West monsoon (June to October).
Being an island, the climate of Sri Lanka changes dramatically from one part of the country to another. For example at Nuwara Eliya, in the hills of Central Province, has a temperature around 15-20 C throughout the year, whereas Hambanthota, located in the dry zone, has a temperature consistently around 30-35 C.
The majority of Sri Lankans speak Sinhala and there is also a consierable number of Tamil speaking people. English is commonly used in most cities, especially Colombo, Kandy and Galle, and by government and tourism officials. Don't expect everyone, everywhere to be able to speak it fluently. In the beach and tourist areas you will have no problem with English. Most people in rural villages however cannot speak any English, beyond a few simple words.
Sinhala Language The greeting in Sinhala is "ayubowan", pronounced "aybohan" It means "May you live longer"; 'Thank you' is "Bohoma istuti, pronounced "bohame stutti" and "how are you" is "kohomada", pronounced "Ko homede""
Tamil Language: The greeting in Tamil is "Vanakkam"; 'Thank you' is "Nanri"
Sri Lankan Muslim: If you meet a Muslim it is polite to say "Assalamu Aliakum" (Arabic); and Thank You "Jazakallahu Khaira "جزاك الله خيرا"" (arabic) Sinhala writing is much more curved than Tamil. After a while, you'll learn how to distinguish between the two.