Sri Lanka

Basic Facts

 

-Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, on the eastern side of the tip of the Indian subcontinent.

 

-The population in Sri Lanka is just over 20 million people.

 

-Sri Lanka is a country full of diversity: many languages, religions, and ethnic groups.

 

-It is the home of the first known Buddhist writings: the Pāli Canon from 29 BC.

 

-Sinhalese and Tamil are the two official languages of Sri Lanka.

 

-English is defined as the link language by their Constitution.

Reasons to Visit

 

-Great beaches – Sri Lanka offers a beautiful tropical climate with very warm sun. This weather varies a lot, so in the same holiday you sunbathe in the dry heat of the southern beaches and then travel to the cool breezes of the Hill Country.

 

-The Food – Sri Lankan food shows the influences of their culture and history. The most popular foods include: hoppers, which are like a battered pancake, cradling everything from eggs and veggies to sweet treats; curd and treacle, a dessert made of buffalo milk curd and coconut flakes; and naturally, Sri Lankan curries, seafood and King coconuts.

 

-Wildlife – Sri Lanka is one of the best places in Asia for seeing wildlife with an abundance of leopards, elephants and birdlife.

Life in Sri Lanka

 

Sri Lanka is usually considered a very exotic destination by most travelers. Although people may speak lots of languages in the country, the two official languages are Sinhalese and Tamil, and English is considered the Lingua Franca of business and education. This is just a leftover from their British rule period. Sri Lanka was a British colony until 1948.

 

Food in this country is widely influenced by that of India. Most dishes contain coconut and rice. They have also been renowned for their spices, cinnamon being the most famous one. Tea is also extremely popular, and people may drink three cups of tea at least per day. They especially like serving tea when a visitor comes to their homes and at social meetings.

 

In your free time, you can practice sports with your fellow Sri Lankers. Sport is a very important part in Sri Lankan culture. The most popular sport in this country is cricket, and volleyball comes in second. You can also enjoy some free time during the holidays. The Sinhala and Tamil New Year are one of the biggest cultural events on the island.

 

Our programs in Sri Lanka allow our volunteers to live and participate in the natives’ daily lives and activities, while helping the ones in need achieve a better quality of life. Our projects focus on the local people and their specific needs. We work along with locals, so you can be sure that your work will help them directly. Volunteering is about giving and receiving, and we want to make sure you will take the best out of this experience!

 

Top Destinations

 

  • Traveling by Train in Ella: Stunning views!

 

  • Horton Plains National Park: A beautiful and silent world in the Sri Lankan plains.

 

  • Cave Temples: A wonderful Royal Rock temple.

 

  • Uda Walawe National Park: Perfect for wildlife sightseeing!

 

  • Ancient Anuradhapura: One of the most breath-taking ruins in the world.

 

  • Soaring Sigiriya Rock: Probably the most dramatic sight in Sri Lanka!

 

Passport/visa requirements

 

  • Thirty-day visitor visas cost US$35, apply in advance online (www.eta.gov.lk).

 

  • Transit visas good for 48 hours are free

 

Obtaining a Visa

 

Before visiting Sri Lanka, do the following to get a 30-day visa:

 

Visit the Sri Lanka ETA (http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/) website several days before arriving.

 

Follow the online application process and pay with a credit or debit card.

 

Once approved, print out the visa confirmation.

 

You can still obtain visas at Sri Lankan embassies abroad and there is a counter at Bandaranaike International Airport for people who arrive without a visa, although you’ll have to wait with the other visa-less masses and pay a small penalty.

 

Visa Extensions

 

  • You can renew a 30-day tourist visa twice, for 30 days each time. Contact the Department of Immigration and Emigration. Extensions are not hard to get but require jumping through some bureaucratic hoops and downloading some forms.

 

Money/Currency

 

  • The local currency is the Sri Lankan rupee (LKR), and its value currently fluctuates around 15 LKR per 1 USD (Early 2017).

 

Healthcare

 

  • Ayurveda: This is an ancient system of medicine using herbs, oils, metals and animal products to heal and rejuvenate. It is common that tourists treat themselves at Ayurvedic massage centers attached to major hotels and in popular tourist centers.

 

  • Tap Water: Tap water is not safe to drink. Use bottled or filtered water; for the former, look for the small round ‘SLSI’ logo which shows the water has been tested by the government’s Sri Lanka Standards Institution (the majority of local brands).

 

  • Medical care is hugely variable in Sri Lanka. Colombo has some good clinics aimed at expats; they’re worth using over options aimed at locals because a superior standard of care is offered. Embassies and consulates often have lists of recommended medical providers.

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