|Legislative capital||Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte|
|Area||65,610 sq km (Land: 64,630 sq km, Water: 980 sq km)|
|Population||21,481,334 (July 2012 est.)|
|Time difference||GMT+5.5 hrs(10.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)|
|Currency||Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR)|
|Independence Day||4thFebruary (1948)|
Tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
Sri Lanka is tropical, with distinct dry and wet seasons. The seasons are slightly complicated by having two monsoons. From May to August the Yala monsoon brings rain to the island’s southwestern half, while the dry season here lasts from December to March. The southwest has the highest rainfall – up to 4000mm a year. The Maha monsoon blows from October to January, bringing rain to the North and East, while the dry season is from May to September. The North and East are comparatively dry, with around 1000mm of rain annually. There is also an inter-monsoonal period in October and November when rain can occur in many parts of the island.
Colombo and the low-lying coastal regions have an average temperature of 27°C. At Kandy (altitude 500m), the average temperature is 20°C, while NuwaraEliya (at 1889m) has a temperate 16°C average. The sea stays at around 27°C all year.
Specialized travel-medicine clinics are your best source of information; they stock all available vaccines and will be able to give specific recommendations for you and your trip. The doctors will take into account factors such as past vaccination history, the length of your trip, activities you may be undertaking and underlying medical conditions, such as pregnancy.
Most vaccines don’t give immunity until at least two weeks after they’re given, so visit a doctor four to eight weeks before departure. Ask your doctor for an International Certificate of Vaccination (aka the ‘yellow booklet’), which will list all the vaccinations you’ve received. The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six days before entering Sri Lanka.
Visitors to Sri Lanka bringing in more than US$10,000 should declare the amount to the Customs on arrival. All unspent rupees converted from foreign currencies can be re-converted to the original currency on departure as long as encashment receipts can be produced.
The Sri Lanka custom regulations are strict to be honest. As a visitor, entering Sri Lanka at the Airport, seaport or by road, you are by law required to make proper declaration of prohibited or durable goods that you may have in your possession.
You are allowed to bring into the country duty free 1.5 liters of spirits, two bottles of wine, a quarter-liter of toilet water, and a small quantity of perfume and souvenirs with a value not exceeding US $250. The import of personal equipment such as cameras and laptop computers is allowed but must be declared on arrival. However, personal equipment must be taken out of the country upon the visitor’s departure. The import of non-prescription drugs and pornography of any form is an offence.
Full details relating to Sri Lanka Customs can be found at www.customs.gov.lk .
Many hotels and shops accept reputed Credit Cards. No surcharge should be permitted for its use. Cash advances are possible against Credit Cards in certain banks. MasterCard and Visa are the most commonly accepted Cards. Other major cards such as American Express and Diners Club are also accepted.
Telegraphic transfer using a major or agency with branches worldwide such as ANZ grindlays or Thomas Cook is, all things being equal, efficient and fast. You can transfer money via Western Union at Seylan Bank.
Banking facilities have been grown and widened tremendously to cope with the sophisticated needs of today’s businessman. Sri Lankan and foreign banks provide an expanding range of services to investors.
Normal working Hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday. Sundays and public holidays are not working days.
There are many public and private hospitals; nursing homes and other institutions providing medical services in the city of Colombo and in all other cities throughout the country. The professional standards of doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals are on par with international standards. The Major health care institutions found in Colombo and suburbs are follows. Colombo General Hospital Sri Jaywardenapura, Kalubowila
All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Bottled water and a variety of mineral waters are available at most hotels. Unpasteurised milk should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Pasteurised and sterilised milk is available in some hotels and shops. Avoid dairy products made with unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%, other 8%
Note: English, spoken competently by about 10% of the population, is commonly used in government and is referred to as the link language in the constitution
There are a few things that should be taken into consideration when visiting Sri Lanka. The country has a tropical climate and a high percentage of the population is Buddhist. Therefore your choice of clothing should not only be appropriate for the weather but also show respect for the beliefs and traditions of the locals.
Communication facilities are aplenty in Sri Lanka. There are many Communication Centers, Post offices, Cyber Cafes, in Colombo and in other cities and towns. Internet Services, IDD, Fax and many other facilities are available at above-mentioned places.
Travel by the public transport system is not for the faint hearted. Most of the buses and trains are of poor standard, generally uninsured and are over crowded. Further, regular delays may be experienced. Prices should be negotiated prior for journeys by unmetered taxis or TukTuk’s.
230-240 Volts 50cycles AC
We do not recommend swimming in the ocean if a RED flag is displayed. If there is a RED flag, this means there are strong waves, currents and it is unsafe.
Please be careful when going out in the sun for the first few days of your holiday, as the tropical sun can cause sunburns. Always use a high factor sun cream and remember to drink plenty of bottled water.
The traditional greeting is by placing your hands together (as if to pray) and saying ‘AYUBOWAN’ which means ‘may you have a long life’. The same can be used when saying good-bye.
Generally locals are very friendly and will often offer assistance if required. Most locals are able to understand and speak simple English.
It is considered disrespectful to pose with your back to a Buddha statue/ picture when taking photos. It is always advisable to ask permission when taking pictures in places of worship or of local people.
Many historical and holy places levy a small charge for cameras and video cameras.
Tipping is customary, but not obligatory. In restaurants and hotels a 10% service charge is automatically added to your bill. However, if you feel that you have enjoyed very good service, an additional tip can be considered. You may wish to leave your hotel tipping until your departure, as most hotels often pool all tips amongst all staff. For Guests who are on tour, should you wish to tip your driver/guide, the amount is entirely at your discretion.
Like in most tourist destinations you may (or should we say will) be approached by touts or beach hawkers with offers to show you the sights or local attractions. A polite, but firm ‘NO’ will suffice to ward off their attentions.