It was known as Thambapanni to Indians, Taprobane to Greeks and Romans, Serendib to Arab seafarers and Ceylonto the British. Today our country is known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, is an island located on the southern tip of the Indian Sub-continent. The diverse range of colours, tastes, fragrances and experiences it offers has tantalised many travellers, from ancient mariners and merchants to modern tourists and businessmen, who visited this tropical island.
Sri Lanka is a visitors’ paradise. Its landscape boasts a mercurial mix of attractions such as golden beaches, foggy mountain ranges, bustling cities, quaint villages, dazzling waterfalls and assorted fauna and flora. The abundance of archaeological assets bears testimony to the rich and ancient civilization spanning over 2,500 years that existed in this country. This heritage, further enhanced by the influences of western colonisers, eastern traders and Indian settlers has enriched this country with a diverse potpourri of cultural, religious and ethnic influences displayed through its arts and crafts, dance and drama, festivals and costumes, architecture and multitude of mouth-watering cuisines.
Most importantly, however, we are considered to be a land of friendly, smiling, extremely hospitable people by many of the visitors who have graced our shores over the centuries. Although our population is predominantly Sinhalese, Sri Lanka also has other ethnic groups – Tamils, Muslims, Malays, descendants of the Dutch, Portuguese and British as well as a small aboriginal community of Veddhas. Sri Lanka boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the region and much of the population residing in cities and townships are fluent in English and technology savvy.
We welcome visitors to our island home with the traditional greeting “ayubowan” which means may you live a long life, however, it is not surprising that we do not have a word for Goodbye but instead we say to departing visitors “gihin-ennan” – go and come again.
Immigration - Customs Requirement
Sri Lanka welcomes visitors and to facilitate easy entry, everything has been done to make the process as pleasant as possible. A valid passport for at least six months beyond the intended period of stay and a ticket for onward travel are required. Sri Lanka Customs operates a Duel Channel System - the Red and Green Channels - for clearance of air travellers.
Red Channel: If you have any prohibited or restricted goods, or dutiable goods exceeding your duty/VAT free allowance.
Green Channel: If you do not have any prohibited, restricted or commercial goods, or dutiable goods exceeding your duty/VAT concessions.
Note: Your baggage may be examined by Customs whether you take the Red or Green Channels.
Customs Regulations – Inbound
You should declare all valuable equipment, jewelry and gems, which are not of a personal nature. If you have nothing to declare, you could go through the “Green Channel”. Your baggage should not contain goods for others, goods in commercial quantities, and prohibited or restricted goods such as firearms, explosives and dangerous drugs. You are entitled to bring in 1.5 litres of spirits, 2 bottles of wine, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 0.25 litres of eau-de-toilette, a small quantity of perfume and travel souvenirs not exceeding US$250/- in value.
Customs Regulations – Outbound
You are required to take out what you have declared and brought into the country, and whatever you have purchased locally, such as gems, jewelry and Sri Lanka products with the funds brought in as well as three kilos of Sri Lanka tea, duty free goods purchased at the departure area of the airport, foreign currency declared and brought into the country. Unused Sri Lanka currency may be reconverted to foreign currency at departure.
You will not be permitted to take out gems and jewelry or valuable equipment not declared on arrival or not purchased in Sri Lanka, gold (crude, bullion or coins), Sri Lanka currency in excess of Rs250/-, firearms, explosives and dangerous weapons, antiques, statues, treasures, old books, animals, birds or reptiles (dead or alive) and their parts, tea, rubber and coconut plants and dangerous drugs.
In addition to a valid passport and an air ticket confirming onward travel, travellers to Sri Lanka should possess a valid visa that could be obtained with relative ease from the Sri Lankan Missions in their respective countries.
The ADFIAP member countries with Sri Lankan Missions are Bangladesh, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
For delegates who do not have Sri Lankan Missions in their respective countries, once their registration for participation at the conference has been confirmed, they will be informed of the documents and procedures necessary to be issued visas on arrival. For this category of visas the Department of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka would require a minimum of two weeks for processing of information prior to the anticipated date of arrival.
Sinhala and Tamil are the two official languages of Sri Lanka. Sinhala is the language spoken by the majority of the population while Tamil is widely used in the northern and eastern parts of the country. English is widely spoken and understood in the urban centres. It is the language of business and commerce.
Weather, Climate and Clothing
Sri Lanka has a pleasant tropical climate. In the lowlands the temperatures ranges from 23-30 degrees Celsius and averaging 27 degrees Celsius in Colombo. In the higher elevations it can be quite cool with temperatures ranging from 10-20 degrees Celsius. Usually from May – July rains occur in the western, southern and central regions of the country due to the south-west monsoon, while during December – January the north-eastern monsoon brings rain to the northern and eastern regions.
Visitors should be decently clad when visiting places of worship. Beachwear and shorts are not considered suitable wear for visiting temples and shrines. Visitors are also expected to remove shoes and head gear prior to entering Buddhist and Hindu temples.
Sri Lanka follows the decimal currency system in rupees (Rs) and cents (Cts) with 100 cents equal to a rupee. Currency notes are available in the denominations of Rs 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. Denominations are clearly marked in figures on both sides of the notes and stated in English in addition to Sinhala and Tamil. Coins commonly in use are in denominations of cents 25 and 50 and rupees.1, 2, 5 and 10. The intervention currency continuously will be the US Dollar.
At the beginning of November 2005, US$1.00 amounted to approximately Rs102.00. You may obtain updated conversion rates by accessing website www.xe.com
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