Geography

An island of approx. 65,610 sq. Km. Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of the coast of India. It lies between 5°55' and 9° 55' north of the equator and between the eastern longitudes 79° 42' and 81° 52'.
Climate

Warm and fine year round. Average temperatures around 27° C in Colombo going down as the land rises to the hill country to as low as 10° C. The island has two wet seasons between May and July in the south-west and December/January in the north-east. Climatically Sri Lanka has no off-season. Bring sunny warm days are the rule and are common even during the wet season. Sea temperatures as a rule remain around 27° C.
Population

Nearly 19.3 million, 74.5% Sinhalese, 11.9% SL Tamils, 4.6% Ind. Tamils 8.3% Moors, 0.3% Malays, 0.2% Burghers and 0.2% Others. Literacy rate average 90.01%- one of the highest in Asia .
Religions

Predominantly Buddhism but also Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

Language

Communication is rarely a problem because English is widely spoken in all parts of the country. Place names and signboards are in the national languages and often in English. Official languages – Sinhala, Tamil and English. National languages- Sinhala and Tamil.

Time

Sri Lanka's Standard Time is 5 ½ hours ahead of Greenwich.

Water

Filtered water and mineral as well as bottled drinking water are available. The yellow King coconut is a popular thirst quencher, and of course, the most popular drink is hot cup of tea.

Tea

Ceylon tea is considered the best in the world. It is sold every where. The Ceylon tea promotion Bureau sells special high quality gift tea packs at their sales points at Bandaranaike International Airport katunayake, at the Colombo Passenger jetty and the office of the Bureau, 574 Galle Road, Colombo 03. Monday to Friday 0900- 1700 hrs. Saturday 0900-1300. Tel : 2553652. The Ceylon Tea Counter situated at the lobby of the airport sell the best Ceylon Tea. Packetted tea is available at this counter. Note: Tea could be purchased for local currency, at the airport, only at the Tea counter in other lobby. No local currency is accepted at the Tea counter within the transit & Departure Lounge. Tea can be the best gift to buy from your last Sri Lanka rupees. The export Duty on tea is Rs.4.00 per kg, for quantities in excess of the duty free allowance of 10kg.

Antiques

No antique could be exported. Also restricted is the export of rare books, palm leaf manuscripts, and rare anthropological material. For the export of rare books and palm leaf manuscripts and antiques (sometimes allowed on special application), permits are necessary from the director of National Archives and the Archaeological Commissioner, respectively, Articles more than 50 years old are considered antiques.

Gems

Sri Lanka Gem & jewellery Exchange (SLGJE) is a Government institution, which comes under the purview of the National Gem and jewellery Authority of Sri Lanka (NGJA) it functions as a service center to facilities the export oriented gem and jewellery trade. The “SLGJE” houses 38 shops which offer for sale a wide range of precious and semi precious gems as well as jewellery both handcrafted and machine made. There are 52 members of the Exchange out of which 32 are life Members. Gem testing laboratory which is a part of the “SLGJE” and operated by the “NGJA”, offers a free gem testing facility to foreigners. Sri Lanka Gem & jewellery Exchange, Level 4 & 5, East Low Block, World Trade Center, Echelon square- Colombo – 01.