Only 66,000 square km in area, yet a treasure trove of diverse and astonishing surprises, Sri Lanka is a cornucopia of magnificent beaches, rain forests, charming villages, hill country tea plantations, centuries old ruined cities, emerald green paddy fields, fascinating cultural traditions, spectacular pageants and festivals, spicy, exciting cuisine and so much more.
All this is contained in a compact, tropical island whose people have been justifiably renowned for their warmth and hospitality.
Discover the amazing diversity of our culture, the natural beauty of the landscape and a complex history stretching back to 543 BC. Choose between a variety of experiences from lazing on the beach to diving in coral reefs, observing wildlife, mountain hikes through tea estates or wandering through the ruins of ancient temples and palaces. Welcome to the isle of serendipity.
The first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C. probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced in about the mid-third century B.C., and a great civilization developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (kingdom from circa 200 B.C. to circa A.D. 1000) and Polonnaruwa (from about 1070 to 1200). In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty established a Tamil kingdom in northern Sri Lanka. The coastal areas of the island were controlled by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century. The island was ceded to the British in 1796, became a crown colony in 1802, and was united under British rule by 1815. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972.