The next holiday destination

What is the first thing you think of when I say “Sri Lanka”? Probably it is “tea”. Yes, it is true, Sri Lanka is one of the most important tea producers in the world and its tea – the famous Ceylon tea – is excellent and one of the most typical products of the island. But Sri Lanka is much more than that. You’ll be astonished to hear some of the outstanding peculiarities of this country. Here are ten interesting facts you probably don’t know about the the “old Ceylon”.

1 – Sri Lanka has also been called “Teardrop of India” because of its proximity to India and because it is teardrop-shaped. In the very beginning, when Pangea existed, India and Sri Lanka were joined to the island of Madagascar; aftwerwards they drifted northwards and collide against Asia: this is how the Himalayas were born.

2 – Serendipity, the term that indicates the happiness that you feel when you discover something unsought and unexpected while looking for something else, comes from the Persian name for Sri Lanka, “Serendib”, which means “island of gems”.

3 – Torn by a civil war from 1983 to 2009 and by the tsunami in 2004, Sri Lanka has been very little happy and peaceful in recent decades. Today, the conflict is finally over, the tourism industry is receiving new investments and prices are still cheap. Sri Lanka is among the cheapest destinations in the world.

4 – The island is predominantly Buddhist. Buddhism was introduced in the country in the 3rd century B.C. Today Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country. Singhalese and Tamils peacefully live together with Muslims, Malaysians and Chinese. Adam’s Peak, the highest mountain in the country, is a sacred place for pilgrims of 4 different religions.

5 – It is said that, in the 6th century B.C, Prince Vijaya was driven away from his reign in India, sailed to Sri Lanka and became Sri Lanka’s first king, forefather of the Singhalese people. It is said that he was a follower of the Ayurveda school and then introduced this medical system also here. By the way, Sri Lanka is a great place for enjoying ayurvedic massages.

6 – Sri Lanka is an ideal destination all year round because the monsoons that occur twice a year affect different parts of the island at different times. The rainy monsoon occurs between May and July in the south-west of the island, between December and January in the nort-east. Average temperature is between 27 and 30 °C.

7 – Elephant is the symbol of Sri Lanka, but this is not just the land of elephants. This is one of the best places in the world to spot leopards (it is said that in the Yala National Park there is the highest concentration of leopards in the world). With 92 species of mammals and nearly 500 of birds (many of which endemic), the wildife here is incredible. It also includes: labiated bears, deer, macaques, gray langurs, whales, dolphins and sea turtles.

8 – In Sri Lanka there are 1,330 km of coastline, with white-sand coasts bordered by palm trees, jagged strokes, lagoons and bays. Arugam Bay is one of the favourite by surfers and Unawatuna beach was ranked among the most beautiful in the world by Discovery Channel.

9 – The underwater world is a true kaleidoscope of fish and corals, also with remains of ancient shipwrecks, ideal of diving and snorkeling lovers. Diving is possible all year round. Among the activities one can enjoy there is surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, whale-watching, trekking and safari. In Sri Lanka there are 12 national parks and 52 protected areas.

10 – There are 7 UNESCO World heritage sites and some of of the most revered places in the Buddhist world. Like the city of Anuradhapura, which houses the Sri Maha Bodhi Bo-tree, grown from the original tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment; the fortress in Sigiriya, on which was built the royal palace, covered with frescoes. Polonnaruwa is characterized by huge pagodas and statues of Buddha. Dalada Maligawa is the temple of Kandy which houses one of the teeth of the Buddha.