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Capital: Colombo
Population: 20,064,776
Religions: Buddhist 70%, Hindu, Muslim, Christian 6%, Other
Languages: Sinhala, Tamil, Other
Ethnic Groups: Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Burgher
Maximum Length: 270 Miles
Widest Point: 140 Miles
Total Land Area: 25,322 Sq. Miles
Average Temperature: Colombo 24C/75F to 30C/86F
Religious Atmosphere: Buddhism is the state religion, and as such, is protected and promoted. Although freedom for other religions is assured, there has been a steady erosion of that freedom with discrimination against minority religions in taxation, employment and education.
Christianity is perceived as foreign, and a colonial imposition.
Government: The religious persecution is tied up in political strife and discord within Sri Lanka.
In 1983 a bitter civil war broke out and all attempts at peaceful resolution failed. Political life in Sri Lanka has been increasingly violent and democratic processes are eroding.
Not only are Sri Lankan’s divided along the lines of political and ethnicity, but religion plays a factor in the conflict.
Latest U. S. Department of State (DOS) and United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Report 2005:
Sri Lanka was not included on the State Department’s “Countries of Particular concern” list.
In July of this year, USCIRF expressed concern over proposed pending legislation in Sri Lanka and the climate of inter-religious conflict and tolerance emerging in this predominantly Buddhist nation.
USCIRF also expressed concern about the ongoing violence against religious minorities for the past two years. During this time, there have been an increasing number of attacks targeting Churches, ministries and other religious minorities.

WORLD HERITAGE SITES

Anuradhapura (128 Miles from Colombo) Sri Lanka's first capital founded around the 4th century BC. Sinhalese Kings ruled for over a 1000 years. Considered as one of the finest civilizations in Asia, Buddhism flourished in this magnificent city in the north central plains of the island. The great kinds built huge religious monuments and monasteries, amazing Palaces, parks, beautiful reservoirs and intricate irrigation systems.

 

HILL COUNTRY

Kandy
(80 Miles from Colombo) In the Sinhala language, Kandy is referred as "mahanuwara" meaning the "great city". In fact, the name Kandy was derived from the word "kanda", which means mountain. The main part of the city overlooks a scenic artificial lake built by the last king of Kandy in 1806. Near the lake is the Temple of the Tooth, said to house one of Buddha's teeth. The relic, has made Kandy a pilgrimage and tourist attraction especially at the annual Esala Perahera pageant. The event marks one of the most spectacular pageants in Sri Lanka, the Kandy Perahera.

Mihintale (over 7 Miles east of Anuradhapura) This rock is riddled with shrines and rock dwellings.
A grand stairway of 1,840 steps made of granite leads to the summit.
  Nuwara Eliya (115 Miles from Colombo) With its salubrious climate this became the favourite hill station of the British during their rule. Hortan plains is a special attraction. This remote plateau is the island's last remaining mountain forest - the house of some fauna and flora species found nowhere else in the world.
Polonnaruwa (135 Miles from Colombo) The Islands medieval capital early in the 11th century AD. The Palaces, Huge granite sculptures and the massive tanks built by the Great Kings convey the extent of development that existed in this middle history period. The city and the surrounding plain was watered by an unique irrigational complex (known as Parakrama Samudra).  

WILD LIFE SANCTUARIES

Yata / Uda walawe / Wasgamuwa / Minnerlya
These are some of the national wild life parks visited by many. From the safety of a park Bungalow or a covered jeep, visitors can watch Sloth Bear, Elephants, Monkey, Deer, Wild Boar, Sambar roam free in their extensive reserve. If you are lucky you could catch a glimpse of a Leopard too! 

Sigirlya (120 Miles from Colombo)
The summit of the rock is nearly three acres in extent. This was a royal palace of king Kasyapa for more than 18 years (477-495 AD) This architectural wonder is famous for its well-preserved rock painting of the beautiful "Cloud Damsels" seen half way up the rock and the "Lion Stairway" that provides access to the summit.
  Ratnapura (65 Miles from Colombo)
Known as the 'city of gems'. You could visit a gem mine and see the men at work. Some of the valuable gems such as Rubies, Sapphires, Zircons, Garnets, Amethysts, Topaz could be found. A main attraction is the Sinharaja Rain forest, one of the few such remaining forests in Asia. It is also a primeval sanctuary for over 170 varieties of exotic orchid.
Dambulla (12 Miles from Sigirya)
Here you will find the famous Rock temple dating to the first century BC. The walls are also adorned with colorful frescoes of various scenes related to the arrival of Buddhism to Sri Lanka and great deeds of the kings.
   




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