What is Sri Lanka

Buddha cult & elephant droppings: funny and worth knowing facts about Sri Lanka

"Themost beautiful island in the world " - this is how Sri Lanka was already called by Marco Polo. No wonder: Because Sri Lanka is exotic, diverse and holds one or the other strange surprise ready. What the name Sri Lanka stands for, what the railways have to do with tea and why elephant droppings are not worthless - ours reveal local experts in this post.

Already knew? Sri Lanka was called earlier Ceylon. After Sri Lanka lost its independence in the 16th century and, after the Portuguese and Dutch, the British finally took over, Sri Lanka was given the name Ceylon. Only with the formation of a republic in 1972 did the name appear on the Democratically Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka changed.

Also interesting:

  • The name Sri Lanka comes from Sanskrit and means something like that "Honorable island" or. "Shiny land".
  • Among other things, Sri Lanka bears the auspicious name "Pearl in the Indian Ocean". The island is shaped like a drop of water and is located off India in the Indian Ocean. She is therefore also referred to as the "Tear of India" designated.

2. No railroad without tea

The railways in Sri Lanka would not exist without tea. And tea wouldn't exist without themBritish.They brought the aromatic drink to Sri Lanka in 1824. Today the tropical island nation is one of theleading tea exporters the world (besides China, India and Kenya). Even the famous one Ceylon tea comes from there.

A special experience: Enjoy a cup of fresh Ceylon tea on the lush green tea plantations around Nuwara Eliya.

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3. One, two or three languages

On the island there is two main ethnic groups. The Sinhalese speak Sinhala (also called "Sinhala") and the Tamils ​​speak Tamil. To communicate with each other is often English spoken. Even the majority of the Traffic signs and labels on buses and trains are, in addition to the two national languages, also written in English.

With English you can therefore get by well in Sri Lanka. But you will surely win a smile from the locals if you have one few words in their language can speak. Try it "ella kiri "(pronounced ala-ki-ri). It means something like "great", but literally translated it means "cow's milk".

Travel tip: Discover the highlights of Sri Lanka and get to know the local languages

4. With Buddha the fun stops

The monks in Sri Lanka are patient and will forgive you for one or two faux pas. But even with them there are limits: Buddha statues must not be climbed or soiled under any circumstances. Buddha tattoos are viewed as disrespectful and are best covered up. In addition, you shouldn't wear a shirt in Sri Lanka Buddha print wear. In the worst case, you can even expect fines for this or you will be refused entry.

Also interesting:

  • Sri Lanka is one of themost religious countries in the world. To theBuddhists countingabout 70% the inhabitant (usually Sinhalese).
  • The Tamils ​​are mostly Hindus and do almost 13% the inhabitant from. There are also some Muslims and Christians on the island.



Buddhists (mostly Sinhalese)

70,2 %

Hindus (mostly Tamils)


Muslims (mainly Sunnis)


Christians (mostly Roman Catholic)


The Buddha statue at Kurunegala, Sri Lanka

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5. Shake your head in agreement

Another specialty in Sri Lanka: a slight shake of the head means "Yes".So don't get confused when the locals shake their heads to the side. For us Europeans that looks more like a “no”. The slight dangling of the head is considered aSign of approval. But be careful: depending on the type and intensity of shaking, the head movement can also have other meanings.


6. Smaller than Austria

Sri Lanka occupied on the list of the smallest countries in the world the position 122. The island state has an area of 65,610 km² and is therefore smaller than Austria. While only 8.8 million people live in Austria, it is even in Sri Lanka 21.2 millionPeople.

[["Anuradhapura", 8.3113518, 80.4036508], ["Colombo", 6.9270786, 79.861243], ["Galle", 6.0535185, 80.2209773], ["Negombo", 7.2007968, 79.8736754]]

[["1. Anuradhapura"], ["2. Colombo"], ["3. Galle"], ["4. Negombo"]]

7. Impressive biodiversity

The tropical island is with an impressive abundance Biodiversity blessed. Hardly any other country has a larger one Diversity of animals and plants. You can find them here greatest density of leopardsworldwideand can even Blue whales marvel at.




blue whale

Yala National Park

  • Leopards
  • buffalo
  • Elephants
  • Sloth bears

Other animal and plant species:

  • 35 different frog species
  • 83 species of snakes
  • 450 species of birds
  • 250 species of butterflies
  • 3,350 plants (170 species of orchids, 74 of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.)

Leopard on a tree in Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka

Travel tip: Observe the Big Five and visit the Yala National Park on this route

8. Symbolic lion flag

The flag of Sri Lanka is one of the oldest flags in the world. Each symbol has its own meaning.


The lion on the flag represents bravery and is a symbol of the Sinhalese majority people.

Four golden fig leaves

The four golden fig leaves on the edges symbolize the Leaves of the Bodhi treeunder which Prince Siddhārtha meditated for years and went down in history as the Buddha. They stand for the indwelling states of Buddhism: namely, kindness, compassion, compassion and equanimity.

greenand Saffron orange

The colors green and saffron orange symbolize that two ethnic minoritiesSri Lankans: the Tamils ​​and Muslims.

red and yellow

The color red stands for that Bloodshed in battle to independence while the color yellow for the Peace and protection of the country through Buddhism stands.

As recently as the middle of the 20th century, Sri Lanka was one of the countries most severely affected by malaria. But the tropical island has won the fight against the disease: The last malaria case in Sri Lanka was diagnosed in 2012. Four years later, the World Health Organization declared the island nation to be malaria free. TheDengue fever but is still a problem, so you should be fine in frontProtect mosquitos.

Child is sprayed with mosquito spray

Travel tip: You might also like these routes through Sri Lanka

10. Largest cinnamon exporter

In ancient times, cinnamon was a special one Gift for kings and gods. The origin was kept secret for a long time. With a share of over 80% on the world market Sri Lanka is still considered today largest exporter of cinnamon.

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11. Paper made from elephant droppings

Elephants are not only a symbol of Sri Lanka, their droppings becomeenvironmentally friendly paper produced. This creates jobs for the locals and protects trees at the same time. You can visit the shop, factory and museum of the elephant dung paper at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (Elephant Orphanage).

Elephants cross their trunks

Would you like to learn more about Sri Lanka?

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