Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island nation south of India in the Indian Ocean. Its diverse landscapes range from rainforest and arid plains to highlands and sandy beaches. It’s famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including the 5th-century citadel Sigiriya, with its palace and frescoes. The city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka's ancient capital, has many ruins dating back more than 2,000 years.
The modern capital, Colombo, is a gateway to beach resorts such as Bentota in the south and west, as well as to Galle and its colonial old town and fort. Inland, the Golden Temple of Dambulla is a cave complex adorned with Buddhist paintings and statues. In the Central Highlands, an area of biodiverse rainforest and tea plantations, the vibrant city of Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth shrine and its associated Esala Perahera festival. Pilgrims climb 2,243m-tall Adam’s Peak, with the Sacred Footprint rock formation near its summit. To the southeast, Yala National Park shelters elephant herds and leopards.
Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka. Sinhala is widely ... Due to the centuries of colonial rule in Sri Lanka, Sinhala contains many Portuguese, Dutch and English loanwords.
Most visitors arrive Dec–Apr, when the weather is warm and mostly dry. Monsoon rains affect the country May–Aug (west and south) and Oct–Jan (north and east), but the climate remains temperate and warm year-round. Major festivals include Buddhist and Hindu New Year (Apr), the Buddhist Vesak festival (May), Esala Perahera (a series of exuberant Buddhist processions and dances) in Kandy (Aug), and Christmas (Dec).
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