- Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo
- 20 million
- Sinhalese and Tamil
- Sri Lankan rupee
Plonked in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern tip of India, the tropical idyll of Sri Lanka is an island of surprises. Most of its terrain is covered in every shade of jungle green imaginable and a batch of mountains south of the centre rises to more than 2500 metres.
With a colonial history, the rustic and crumbling architecture lends an air of mystique to most towns – the capital Colombo and the town of Galle with its fortifications, in particular, are magnets for the international bohemian set attracted by the yesteryear atmosphere.
Away from the urban areas it’s all about jungle exploration, safaris and tranquil boating journeys. Go searching for elephants and leopards in Yala National Park on the south coast before heading to the southernmost part of the island and the town of Mirissa, famed for its excellent whale watching.
Throughout the country, festivals, from the huge Esala Perahera held in Kandy mid-year to Deepavali celebrations in October and November, are a highlight of colour and energy. And then there’s the cricket... You almost hope Sri Lanka wins just for the spectacle of the celebrations. Almost.