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About Sri Lanka

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Sri Lankan Map

Sri Lankan Flag

The National Flag of Sri Lanka represents the country and her heritage as rallying device that integrates the minorities with the majority race.

Sri Lanka National Flag is an improvisation of the civil standard of the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasingha.
The civil standard had a passant royal lion with a sword in it's right fore paw at the center, and a bo-leaf on each of the four corners on a plain border.
When Sri Lanka gained her independence from Great Britain on February 04, 1948, it was the lion flag of the last king of Sri Lanka was hoisted once again.

The first Prime Minister of independent Sri Lanka, D.S.Senanayake, appointed a committee to advice the government on the design of a new national flag. The design approved by the committee in February 1950 retained the symbol of the lion with the sword and the bo-leaves from the civil standard of the last king of Sri Lanka, with the inclusion of two verticle stripes green and orange in color.

The significance of each symbol of the national flag is as follows:

  • The lion in the flag represents the Sinhala race.
  • The sword of the lion represents the sovereignty of the country.
  • Curly hair on the lion's head indicates religious observance, wisdom and meditation.
  • The beard denotes purity of words.
  • The handle of the sword highlights the elements of water, fire, air and earth.
  • The nose indicates intelligence.
  • The two front paws purport to purity in handling wealth.
  • The verticle stripe of orange represent the minority Tamil race and the green verticle stripe the minority Muslim race.
  • The four virtues of kindness: KINDNESS, FRIENDLINESS, HAPPINESS, EQUANIMITY are also represented in the flag.
  • The border round the flag, which is yellow in color, represents other minor races.
  • The bo-leaves at the four corners of the flag represent Buddhism and it's influence on the nation. They also stand for the four virtues - Kindness, Friendliness, Happiness and Equanimity.
  • The maroon colored portion of the flag manifests the other minor religions.
  • The national flag was hoisted for the first time on March 3, 1950.

Sri Lanka at a Glance

Country Name :
Conventional long form : Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Conventional short form : Sri Lanka
Former : Ceylon
Size : 65,610 sq km
Capital : Sri Jayawardenepura, Kotte
Commercial Capital : Colombo
Government : Sri Lanka, is a free, independent and sovereign nation with a population of 19.5 million (2004 est). Legislative power is exercised by a Parliament, elected by universal franchise on proportional representation basis. A President, who is also elected by the people, exercises executive power including defense. Sri Lanka enjoys a multi party system, and the people vote to elect a new government every six years.
National Flag : National Flag of Sri Lanka is the Lion Flag. A Lion bearing a sword in its right hand is depicted in gold on red background with a yellow border. Four Bo leaves pointing inwards are at the four corners. Two vertical bands of green and orange at the mast end represent the minority ethnic groups. It is an adaptation of the standard of the last King of Sri Lanka.
National Anthem : "Sri Lanka Matha" composed by late Mr. Ananda Samarakoon.
National Flower : The Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea stellata) is the National Flower.
Population : 19.5 million
Population Density : 296 people per sq km
Life Expectancy at Birth : 76.4 female, 71.7 male (2001 est)
Literacy Rate : 92.5%(2003 est)
Languages : Sinhalese is the majority and widely spoken throughout Sri Lanka.
Ethnic Mix : Sihalese, 74%; Tamil, 18%; Muslim 7%; Burgher (descendants of Dutch and Portuguese colonist) and others 1%
Religion : Buddhism 70%; Hinduism 16%; Christianity 7%; Islam 7%
Climate : Low lands – tropical, average 27°C Central Hills – cooler, with temperatures dropping to 14°C. The south-west monsoon brings rain to the western, southern and central regions from May to July., while the north-eastern monsoon occurs in the north and east in December and January. Sri Lanka boasts of a good climate for holiday-makers throughout the year.
Annual per capital GNP : US $1197 (2005 est)
Industries : Processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, and other agricultural commodities; clothing, cement, petroleum refining, textiles, tobacco.
Agriculture-Products : Rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, roots, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, meat.
Currency : Sri Lanka follows decimal currency systilable in the denominations of Rs. 2,10,20,50,100,200, 500,1000 and 2000 in Rupees (Rs.) and cents (Cts.) with 100 cents equal to a rupee. Currency notes are avaCoins are issued in values of Cts.1,2,5,10, 25 and 50 and Rs.1,2,5 and 10. The intervention currency continuously will be the US Dollar.
Visa : Consult your local Sri Lanka embassy, consulate, tourist office or your travel agent.
Working Week : Sri Lanka works a five-day week, from Monday to Friday.
Business Hours : Government offices 8.35 a.m. – 4.15 p.m,, Monday to Friday
Banks : 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. or 3.00 p.m. Monday to Saturday
Post Office : 8.30 a.m.- 5.00 p.m., Monday to Friday 8.30 a.m. – 1.00 p.m. on Saturday. The Central Mail Exchange, at D.R.Wijewardene Mawatha, Colombo 10, (Telephone : 326203) is open 24-hours.
Location : An island off the south-eastern cost shores of India, 880 km north of the equator, in the Indian Ocean.

National Parks in Sri Lanka

The jungles of Sri Lanka abound in a variety of wildlife, which is surprising for an island of its size in the tropics. From ancient days the elephants and peacock from the Sri Lankan jungles were prize exports to the Kingdoms of East and West. But apart from these well-known examples of the fauna, a visit to the Sri Lankan jungles is to enter a whole new world where nature has largely stayed still. Sri Lanka has a rich and exotic variety of wildlife and a long tradition of conservation rooted in its 2,230 year old Buddhist civilization. The following are the most important sanctuaries in terms of attractions, accessibility and availability of facilities.

Yala National Park

  • Elephant
  • Bird Watching
  • Monkeys
  • Tiger
  • Dear
1 2 3 4 5

Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Actually it consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public; and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names also, like Ruhuna National Park for the (best known) block 1 and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometers (378 sq mi) Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu it was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka,

Location: Southern and Uva Provinces,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Hambantota
Area: 97,880.7 hectares (377.919 sq mi)
Established: 1900 (Wildlife sanctuary), 1938 (National park)
300 km from Colombo.
having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds.

There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Sithulpawwa and Magul wehera are two ancient sites situated in Yala national Park.

Gal Oya National Park

Location: Location Uva and Eastern provinces,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Ampara
Area: 25,900 ha
Established: February 12, 1954
Governing body Department of Wildlife Conservation
314 km from Colombo
Gal Oya National Park in Sri Lanka was established in 1954 and serves as the main catchment area for Senanayake Samudraya, the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka. Senanayake Samudraya was built under the Gal Oya development project by damming the Gal Oya at Inginiyagala in 1950. An important feature of the Gal Oya National Park is its elephant herd that can be seen throughout the year. Three important herbs of the Ayurveda medicine, Triphala: Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica and Emblica officinalis are amongst the notable flora of the forest. From 1954 to 1965 the park was administrated by the Gal Oya Development Board until the Department of Wildlife Conservation took over administration.

Udawalawe National Park

Location: Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Ratnapura
Area: 30,821 ha
Established: June 30, 1972
165 Km from Colombo
Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka. The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. The reserve covers 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi) of land area and was established on 30 June 1972.[1] Before the designation of the national park, the area was used for shifting cultivation (chena farming). The farmers were gradually removed once the national park was declared. The park is 165 kilometres (103 mi) from Colombo. Udawalawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan Elephants. It is a popular tourist destination and the third most visited park in the country.

Udawalawe is an important habitat for Sri Lankan Elephants, which are relatively easy to see in its open habitats. Many elephants are attracted to the park because of the Udawalawe reservoir. The Sri Lankan Sloth Bear is seldom seen because of its rarity. Sri Lankan Sambar Deer, Sri Lankan Axis Deer, Indian Muntjac, Sri Lankan Spotted Chevrotain, Wild Boar and Water Buffalo are among other mammal species. Golden Jackal, Asian Palm Civet, Toque Macaque, Tufted Grey Langur and Indian Hare also inhabit the park.

Maduru Oya National Park

Location: Eastern and Uva Provinces,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Polonnaruwa
Area: 58,850 hectares (227.2 sq mi)
Established: 1983
288 Km away from Colombo
Maduru Oya National Park is a national park of Sri Lanka, established under the Mahaweli development project and also acts as a catchment of the Maduru Oya Reservoir. The park was designated on 9 November 1983. Providing a sanctuary to wildlife, especially for elephants and protecting the immediate catchments of five reservoirs are the importance of the park. A community of Vedda people, the indigenous ethnic group of Sri Lanka lives within the park boundary in Henanigala. The park is situated 288 kilometres (179 mi) north-east of Colombo.

This was designed under the Mahaweli Development Project. Hermitages are found in Henanigala, Kudawila, Gurukumbura, Ulketangoda, and Werapokuna belonging to various periods of Sri Lankan history. The importance of the park's fauna species is its richness, which includes a number of endemic species. [2] Threatened mammal species include elephant Elephas maximus, of which there were 150-200 before the establishment of the park, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, leopard Panthera pardus, and Water Buffalo Bubalus bubalis. A recent study in 2007 shows that the current elephant population is still estimates around 150-200.[5] Other mammals are Toque Monkey Macaca sinica, Common Langur Presbytis entellus, jackal Canis aureus, Fishing Cat felis viverrina, wild boar Sus scrofa, Indian Muntjac Muntiacus muntjak, spotted deer Cervus axis, and sambar C. unicolor. Smalls mammals include Porcupine Hystrix indica, Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis, Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata, squirrels as well.

Flood Plains National Park

Location: North Central Province,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Polonnaruwa
Area: 17,350 hectares (67.0 sq mi)
Established: 1984.
Flood Plains National Park is one of the four national parks set aside under the Mahaweli River development project. The park was created on 07 August 1984. The national park is situated along the Mahaweli flood plain and is considered a rich feeding ground for elephants. Flood Plains National Park is considered an elephant corridor for the elephants migrate between Wasgamuwa and Somawathiya national parks. The park is situated 222 kilometres (138 mi) north-east of Colombo.

The park's elevation range from 20–60 metres (66–200 ft) with sparse rock outcrop. The Mahaweli River flows from south to north through the centre of the park. The rich alluvial soil flood plains situated beside the river are featured by a number of shallow swampy depressions called 'villus'. Around 38 villus have been recorded from the floodplains. The villus system of Mahaweli River has received protected status from Flood Plains and Somawathiya National Parks. The extended inundation of these low-lying areas, along with the nutrients carried in by the water, are the cause of the high level of net primary productivity. Furthermore to being flooded in the wet season, the villus are also inundated during the dry season because the headwaters of the Mahaweli River experience the south-west monsoon at that time. Unto the recent diversion of the river for irrigational purposes, the villus were important as dry season grazing grounds. The park is situated in the dry zone, therefore there is only a north-east monsoon from October to late-January and the wet season is followed up by a dry lasting from March to September. Mean temperature is around 27 °C (81 °F) and mean rainfall is around 1,650 millimetres (65 in). Relative humidity range from 60-90% depending on the rainfall patterns and the area experience strong seasonal windy periods.

Mahaweli River in this section was connected to the nearby ancient irrigation network. On the right bank of the river, at the edge of the Mutugalla villu, ruins of an ancient cave monastery with inscriptions dating back to between 2nd and 7th century BC have been found. Flood Plains National Park which declared in 1984 is in the upper flood plains of Mahaweli River and Somawathiya National Park declared in 1986 is situated in the downstream. These two parks, along with Wasgamuwa National Park to the southwest and the Trikonamadu Nature Reserve to the northeast forms a system of contiguous protected areas. It has been proposed to link all these national parks together to form a single protected area.

The park is especially important for the long-term survival of elephants within the Mahaweli catchment. Together with adjoining Somawathiya National Park, Flood Plains provides a sanctuary for a wide variety of resident and migratory waterfowls. Although there is an overall systems plan for protected areas within the Mahaweli region, there is no management plan particularly for Flood Plains National Park. For management purposes, the northern half of the park is treated as part of Somawathiya National Park and the southern half as part of Wasgamuwa National Park. The construction of dam on the Mahaweli River will inevitably drop water flow and thereby reduce the magnitude and duration of flooding downstream. This drastic change in the water management of the villus will change the rich grasslands into poor quality grazing grounds, which in turn will be harmful to the wildlife. The park was added 1989 IUCN/CNNPA register of threatened protected areas of the world, for its integrity being threatened greatly by overexploitation of its resources. Elephants have fallen into the holes created by the hundreds of kilns and died. Harmful activities were due to be phased out or control strictly to enable to recover. Effective management has been hampered political and security problems in the region. The drying up of villus has facilitated the spread of invasive alien species such as Eichhornia crassipes, Xanthium indicum, Salvinia molesta, which has affected the native grasses and other aquatic plants, resulting in native herbivores' food loss.

Horton Plains National Park

Location: Central province,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Nuwara Eliya
Area: 3,160 hectares (12.2 sq mi)
Established: 1969 (Nature reserve)
1988 (National park)
World Heritage Site 2010 (within the site Central Highlands of Sri Lanka)
Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft) is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Nuwara Eliya.

The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. In Sinhala the plains are known as Maha Eliya Plains. Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here. The plains' vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest, and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan Sambar Deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains. Forest dieback is one of the major threats to the park and some studies suggest that it is caused by a natural phenomenon. The sheer precipice of World's End and Baker's Falls are among the tourist attractions of the park.

Lunugamvehera National Park

Location: Uva province and Southern province,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Hambantota
Area: 23,498.8 ha (58,066.8 acres)
Established: December 8, 1995
unugamvehera National Park in Sri Lanka was declared in 1995, with the intention of protecting the catchment area of the Lunugamvehera reservoir and wildlife of the area. The national park is an important habitat for water birds and elephants. The catchment area is vital to maintain the water levels of the five tanks in the down stream of Kirindi Oya and wetland characteristics of Bundala National Park. This national park also serves as a corridor for elephants to migrate between Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park. The national park is situated 261 km (162 mi) southwest from Colombo. After being closed because of the Sri Lankan civil war, the national park is now open to the general public.

Lunugamvehera is in the Dry zone of Sri Lanka, therefore the park is exposed to annual drought, relieved by the south western monsoon. The elevation of the park is 91 metres (299 ft). Out of 23,498 hectares of total land area 14 percent, that is 3283 ha, is land under the reservoir. Another 50 ha are two smaller reservoirs. Nearby Thanamalvila area receives a 1,000 millimetres (39 in) of annual rainfall. Rainfall decreases from North to South and West to East across the national park. Mean annual temperature of Lunugamvehera is 30 °C (86 °F).

Kaudulla National Park

Location: North Central province,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Polonnaruwa
Area: 6,900 ha
Established: April 01,
250Km away from Colombo
Opened in 2002 just before the massive Wilpattu reopened, KAUDULLA NATIONAL PARK is Sri Lanka's newest national park, wildlife reserve and eco tourism attraction. Situated around the ancient Kaudulla tank, the national park provides a 6656 hectare elephant corridor, only 6 km from off the main Habarana - Trincomalee road. With fantastic opportunities to see many elephants at close range, the park has become a popular destination for wildlife safaris that also take in leopards, sambar deer and the occasional sloth bear! As an additional novelty, you can go for cataraman rides on the tank.

Pigeon Island National Park

Location: Eastern Province,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Trincomalee
Area: 471.4 hectares (1.820 sq mi)
Established: 2003
Pigeon Island National Park is one of the two marine national parks of Sri Lanka. The national park is situated 1 km off the coast of Nilaveli, a coastal town in Eastern Province. The island's name derives from the Rock Pigeon which has colonized it. The national park contains some of the best remaining coral reefs of Sri Lanka. Pigeon Island was designated as a sanctuary in 1963. In 2003 it was redesignated as a national park. This national park is the 17th in Sri Lanka. The island was used as a shooting range during the colonial era. Pigeon Island is one of the several protected areas affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

Galway's Land National Park

Location: Central province,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Nuwara Eliya
Area: 27 hectares (0.10 sq mi)
Established: 1938 (Sanctuary) 2006 (National park)
Galway's Land National Park is a small national park situated within the city limits of Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka. Having being declared as a wildlife sanctuary on 27 May 1938, the Galway's Land was elevated to the national park status on 18 May 2006. The park was declared to conserve the montane ecosystem. Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka considers the Victoria park of Nuwara Eliya and the Galway's Land as two of the most significant birding sites in Sri Lanka. Galway's Land harbours about 20 very rare migrant bird species and 30 native species. Apart from the avifauna, the park has valuable floral species of both native and foreign origin. Galway Forest Lodge is located close to the park.

Ussangoda National Park

Location: Southern Province,
Sri Lanka.
Nearest City: Hambantota
Area: 349 hectares (1.35 sq mi)
Established: 2010
Ussangoda National Park is the newest and the 21st national park in Sri Lanka. The objectives of establishing the new national park are providing long term protection for the area's biological, archaeological and geographical values. The park borders the Kalametiya Wildlife Sanctuary in the east.

In Hindu mythology, Ussangoda is believed to be the place where King Ravana lands his peacock chariot. Ussangoda is an important breeding ground for sea turtles and covers both land and sea areas. The red earth forms the soil of the area and the stunted vegetation is a feature resulted by heavy sea breeze. There are several archaeological sites of the origins in the pre-historic times also. The explanation for red soil is a high concentration of Ferric oxide in the area. Ussangoda is one of the four serpentine sites in Sri Lanka. The area is proposed to be designated as a Geopark originally. However due to the area's biodiversity and other important features such as archaeological and geographical values instead Ussangoda had been declared a national park.