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20 Unique Facts about Sri Lanka

Jennifer Jedda

July 16 2015

While Sri Lanka may not be the obvious choice for you next travel adventure, it is a diverse country that charms with its pristine beaches, assortment of exotic wildlife, delicious teas and 8 UNESCO heritage sites. Outlined below are 20 other unique facts about this small island nation that may pique your curiosity and help move Sri Lanka up on your destination list... 

 

 1. The word Sri Lanka literally mean “Resplendent Island” in Sanskrit.

Splendid vista of Sri Lanka. Photo by Travel + Leisure. 

 

2. The population of Sri Lanka is about 20 million in 2012.

3. The two primary ethnic groups are Sinhalese and Tamilians, but there is small presence of Moors

4. A person from Sri Lanka is called Sri Lankan or just Lankan. Never call them by their ethnicity.

5. Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest tea exporters. The famous Lipton tea was sourced from Sri Lanka by its founder.

6. The spice cinnamon originated in Sri Lanka and was discovered by the Egyptians.

Cinnamon from Sri Lanka

 

7. When it comes to food, rice is the front runner. Lankans eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with curry.

8.  Like Indians, Sri Lankans also eat with their hands.

9. Sri Lanka was the first country in the world to have a democratically elected head of state who was a woman.

10. Sri Lanka flag contains a golden lion, surrounded by four golden leaves at four corners which represents Buddhism. The green and orange strips represent Islam and Hinduism respectively. Sri Lankas national flag is considered to be one of the oldest flags in the world.

 

Flag of Sri Lanka

 

11. Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon before 1972.

12. The shape of Sri Lanka is like a pearl or the drop of tear. This is the reason Sri Lanka is known as Pearl of Indian Ocean.

13. Sri Lanka produces excellent jewelry. There are two traditions of jewelry making: Galle tradition and Kandyan tradition. The Galle tradition is characterized by its precious stones while the Kandyan tradition is featured by its intricate metal work, especially silver work.

Bride in traditional Kandyan jewelry and dressings.

 

14. Sri Lanka has two official languages – Sinhala and Tamil.

15. The two primary ethnic groups are Sinhalese and Tamilians, but there is small presence of Moors.

16. Sinhalese have very long names. The average number of words in a person’s name is five.

17. 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhist.

18. Sri Lanka has only one international airport in Colombo.

19. It is estimated that 20,000 elephants survive in Sri Lanka.

Elephants in Sri Lanka

 

20. 92% of people living in the country are literate which means that they boast the highest literacy rate in the whole of South Asia.

 

 

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