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Sri Lanka, a small island with a big story

Hanging on the edge of the Indian sub-continent, Sri Lanka is a small island with a big Punch.

With more than three thousand years of a recorded history the country has been the home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world.

In yesteryears the country was known to the travellers in many names. Known as the land of Sinhala or Sinhadveepa, ancient Greeks called it Taprobane while Arabs referred to it as Serendib. Ceilao, was the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese when they arrived in 1505 and it later was transliterated into English as Ceylon.

Sri Lanka had continued to inspire and heal many who travelled to its shores ever since its existence was known to the world. Many who set foot on the island had considered it a part of a divine existence, Sri Lanka still continues to wrap its charm around its visitors, capturing their imagination with sights, sounds and flavours.

Sri Lankan cuisines are a hidden treat to many while Ayurveda and meditation continues to heal the bodies and minds worn out with the cares of life.

The country’s native healing system, Ayurveda has been perfected over more than five thousand years. Based on herbs and diet, it was region’s only treatment method until the introduction of Western Medication in the 19th Century.

Fed by Buddhism and trickle down of Indian influence the Sri Lankans had developed a unique agro based civilizations fed by ocean like reservoirs, which are considered to be hydro engineering marvels even today.

The country also boasts of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world with many endemic creatures gracing its woods and waters.

Despite its small size it has the highest biodiversity density in Asia. Incidentally Southern sea of Sri Lanka has also been identified as the region with the lowest gravitational pull in the world, With 22 million strong population of which majority are Buddhist, Sri Lanka is an potpourri of cultures and religions enriched by a 400 year long colonial rule.

Fuelled by an economy of food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, port construction, telecommunications, insurance and banking the country records a GDP of $ 81.3 billion.

The country is emerging from a three decade long war and is seeing a burst of infrastructure development in the formerly war torn areas. With the end of the war in 2009 Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka as the best world destination to visit while The Dow Jones classified Sri Lanka as an emerging market in 2010, and Citigroup classified it as a3G country in February 2011.Sri Lanka ranks well above other South Asian countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) with 0.715 points.

With one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world whether in plants or animals the country is included among the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Of the ninety-one species of mammals found in Sri Lanka Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes engages the majority of the attention of wildlife enthusiast. Yet the rarest mammals of Sri Lanka are the red slender Loris, Toque Macaque, and Purple-faced Langur, who according to IUCN clarifications are endangered due to habitat loss.

Meanwhile the ocean around Sri Lanka is home to large families of cetaceans including the mighty blue whales, sperm whales and lively dolphins. Altogether 26 species of cetaceans rule the waters surrounding the country, making it one of the best locations for whale and dolphin watching.

Despite its fame as a resplendent island and a leading tourist destination, the secret of Sri Lanka’s attraction lies with its people. The spice addicted, cricket crazy and tea drinking people of Sri Lanka are famed for big smiles and a bigger heart, which makes a visit to the little island well worth the trouble.

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