Capital | Colombo
Population | 21,283,913 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 65,610 SQ KM
Official Language | Sinhalese, Tamil
Holidays | Independence Day, 4 February (1948)
Currency | Rupee (LKR)
Time Zone | UTC +5.5
Best Time to Visit | December to March (the driest time of the year)
Connecting with the Culture | Sharing the first rays of the morning sun with pilgrims at the summit of Adam’s Peak. Lazing the day away on the beach in sleepy Mirissa. Wandering through tea plantations in the hills around Nuwara Eliya. Getting up close to the young elephants at Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage. Climbing the spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya. Experience a puja (offering of prayer) at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. Attempting to spot an elusive leopard in Yala West National Park.
Read | Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family, a humorous account of returning to Sri Lanka after growing up there in the 1940’s and ‘50s
Listen | to www.labaila.com, web-streamed Sri Lanka radio from Los Angeles.
Watch | Prasanna Vithanage’s Death on a Full Moon Day, a film about a father who refuses to accept the death of his soldier son.
Eat | coconut sambol, a hot accompaniment to curry made of grated coconut, chili, and spices.
Drink | arrack, the local spirit, which is usually fermented from coconuts or palm trees.
In a Word | Ayubowan (May you live long)
Characteristics | Beautiful beaches lined with palm trees; tea plantations; coconuts; friendly, smiling faces; elephants; rice and curry; batik; three-wheelers winding in and out of traffic; good cricketers and enthusiastic supporters; Kandyan dancers.
Surprises | Buddhist temples that depict images of Hindu gods; serious traffic accidents are rare despite the apparent lack of road rules.
NEWS ABOUT SRI LANKA:
Sri Lanka Tamil's Upset with US Resolution at UN Human Rights Council
(HN, 3/22/12) - The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today voted in favor of a US-sponsored resolution calling on Sri Lanka to again investigate alleged war crimes by the nation's army & Tamil Tiger guerillas during its 26-year civil war which ended in 2009. The vote had 8 abstentions & 40 additional co-sponsors, passing 24 to 15. India, Sri Lanka’s northern neighbor & biggest trade partner, backed the resolution. A group called United Tamils of Sri Lanka from the Northern & Eastern provinces staged a demonstration in the country's capitol of Colombo on Wednesday & urged the US not to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan government.
They stated they are living in a better atmosphere now & have reestablished friendship & harmony with their former combatants. The resolution calls for the Sri Lankan government to present an action plan & to work with the UNHCR to gain traction on the country's reconciliation efforts. In November Sri Lanka cleared the military of unlawful activity & said any abuses committed by soldiers were isolated. (Read more at The Colombo Page)