The island of Sri Lanka lies off the southern tip of India in
the Indian Ocean, a verdant paradise that is the cradle of the
Buddhist faith. Apart from hundreds of miles of the world's most
beautiful palm-fringed beaches, Sri Lanka boasts no fewer than
seven World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO, ranging from sacred
cities, palaces and cliff-top citadels to colonial strongholds,
spanning nearly 3,000 years of history. To complete the picture of
perfection, Sri Lanka is situated just three degrees north of the
Equator, meaning the weather is constantly hot, humid and tropical.
Sunny skies are the order of the day; even in the brief monsoon
season there is always a daily spell of sunshine.
There has, however, been trouble in paradise. Modern Sri Lanka
has experienced indigenous terrorism, particularly in the north of
the island and the metropolis of Colombo city, but the beautiful
beaches and towns of the south and southeast coast have been
largely unaffected. Anyone travelling to Sri Lanka is advised to
acquaint themselves with the current political and security
situation before embarking on their visit. To compound matters, the
island's tourism infrastructure is still recovering from the
effects of the catastrophic tsunami, which devastated coastal areas
in December 2004.
Adventurous visitors who enjoy some mystery and wonderment will,
however, marvel at the ancient sites of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa,
Sigiriya, Dambulla and Panduwasnuwara, where the remains of a great
civilisation are to be seen. The cities of Colombo and Kandy show
the influence of the foreign colonial powers that fought for
control over the strategic, lush island in the 16th, 17th and 18th
centuries. Dutch-inspired buildings stand cheek to jowl with
Victorian British mansions and Portuguese fortifications.
Sri Lanka offers leisure and pleasure opportunities at a gentle
pace; this is no package holiday destination but rather one to be
savoured by discerning travellers who enjoy discovering their own