On the scale of a world map, Sri Lanka, a country known until the 1970s as Ceylon, looks like a small drop on the surface of the Indian Ocean. In fact, the island is large enough to offer the eye a variety of landscapes worthy of an entire continent. From north to south it has a length of 435 km, from east to west – 235 km. This gives the island an area of 65,600 km2. On tropical beaches, the thermometer shows air and water temperatures of 24-32 degrees Celsius all year round, but four hours away by car or train is breathtakingly picturesque mountainous land where nighttime temperatures can drop to 10 degrees. Landscapes change as fast as the temperature. A short journey will take you to the ruins of the cities of the ancient civilizations of Sri Lanka, and during the trip you will see palm-fringed beaches, valleys and hills, rich wildlife, exotic flora, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Sri Lanka is the peace and splendor of nature, which corresponds to the simplicity and naturalness of life.
The written history of Sri Lanka began more than 2 thousand years ago, with the advent of Buddhism here, which has been preserved on the island in its original form to this day. Religion and culture are originally one whole here. Buddhist and Hindu temples, mosques and Christian shrines stand side by side in perfect harmony with each other. The country is a colorful mix of religions, cultures, races and geography, where the tropics meet modern European tradition. The island has excellent, international-class hotels – with prices that are affordable for any budget. Here, excellent service conditions are combined with traditional cordiality and hospitality.
According to topschoolsintheusa, Ceylon cuisine is a combination of national and international cuisines. The abundance of sea delicacies is the specialty of the island: crabs, lobsters, shrimps, squids. You can also try local rice and curry dishes, delicious fruits – mango, avocado, papaya and, of course, the world’s best Ceylon tea.
Traditional musical evenings with singers, dancers, drummers are regularly held here as evening entertainment. Sri Lanka offers you endless miles of beautiful golden beaches lined with coconut trees. Popular resorts – Negombo, Mount Lavinia, Beruwela, Bentota and Hikkaduwa (on the west and south coasts), Trincomalee, Nilaveli and Kalkudah (on the east) – a paradise for body and soul, where there are excellent opportunities to do water skiing and swimming, surfing, scuba diving diving and deep sea fishing. “Coral gardens” of Hikkaduwa, Big and Small Bassas on the south coast, plus corals on Trincomal and Pigeon Island (in the east) – all this is nearby at the full disposal of underwater fans. Just slip into the crystal clear water and you will see the world of a tropical rainbow… breathtaking sea views, the remains of sunken ships and schooners, incredibly brightly colored schools of fish frolicking in their coral reserve. In the 3rd century AD King Devanampiyatsia founded the world’s first flora and fauna reserve in Mihintal, which still exists today.
The Sinharai Jungle Forest is a rare example of this type of forest in Asia. It also has the status of a reserve, where more than 170 species of tropical orchids grow. The Horton Plateau is a special attraction. This flat plateau is the last remaining halo of rainforest with rare, sometimes the only specimens of trees and flowers in the world.
The national parks of Yala, Vilpattu and Inginiyagala have beautiful scenery. From secure bungalows or enclosed jeeps, visitors can observe leopards, giraffes, elephants, monkeys, deer, bears living in freedom in these reserves.
Sri Lanka is a real treasury of precious stones, rubies, sapphires, amethysts, topazes, “cat’s eye” are mined here. City markets and craft centers also offer a wide range of gifts and souvenirs: batik, engraved masks, jewelry, silverware, copper and brass appliances, medicinal herbs and spices.
Sri Lanka is a happy island – a land of friendly smiling people. Aromas of flowers of tropical plants reign everywhere here, and everywhere you will meet the traditional greeting – “ayyubovan” – which means “health to you for a long time.”
Climatically, the best time to visit Sri Lanka is November – April for the southwest of the island and the central highlands, and May-September for the east coast.
Famous Ceylon tea
Even those who have never heard anything about Sri Lanka in their lives are probably well acquainted with Ceylon tea. This small mango-shaped island produces more tea than any other country in the world, with the exception of vast India. Tea is the mainstay of Sri Lanka’s economy, its pride and wealthy weakness. In 1990, Sri Lanka became the largest tea exporter in the world, pushing India to second place, and earned almost half a billion dollars from this. The history of tea in Sri Lanka started in 1849. Scotsman James Taylor, having cleared 19 acres of forest, planted the first tea seedlings on the plantation, the size of which had already increased to 100 acres by the mid-70s. And although other plantations that had arisen by that time on the island were small and there were very few of them, even then it became clear that tea had come to Ceylon in earnest and for a long time.
Strengthening the position of tea as the basis of the island’s economy was facilitated by the fact that by the 1930s, the production of coffee, until then the main export crop of Ceylon, was considered unprofitable due to plant damage by the virus and the global fall in coffee prices.
Currently, Ceylon tea is produced in three zones of the island: in the mountains, on the plains and in the foothills and, accordingly, the varieties differ in color and aroma. lowland tea is the strongest, tart, least fragrant; exported mainly to the Middle East. Foothill tea is also characterized by intense color and aroma, but highland tea is richest in aroma, although its color is not too pronounced.
For the production of high-quality tea, it is very important to assemble it correctly: only with manual assembly, the two most delicate top leaves and a half-blown bud come into play. The picker must definitely approach each bush at least once every 5-7 days, the bush must be cut at the root once every 5 years in order to rejuvenate it.
The collected tea at the factory goes through five main stages of processing: it is dried, rolled, fermented, dried and sorted. The best quality is usually Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP), followed by BOP Fanning, Broken Pekoe and Dust. Under certain processing conditions, tea buds acquire a light brown or golden hue.
Such a product is called “tips”. Tea varieties containing a large number of “tips” are sold at auctions for a very high price: the highest price for Ceylon tea is $414 per kilogram.