With a myriad of sites and activities to satisfy the most demanding of vacationists, my native Sri Lanka definitely lives up to its metaphorical standard of “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” With 16 national parks offering some of the best safaris outside of Africa, 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, endless miles of white sandy beaches blending into turquoise waters, its tantalizing curries and abundance of fresh seafood, this tiny island, half the size of Iowa, certainly packs a punch.
Sri Lanka has one of the oldest histories of Theravada Buddhism and the vast majority of the population is Buddhist. Add to that, the influence of three centuries of European colonization, the proximity to India and an ancient history of trading with Arabs, and the result is a beautifully woven, although sometimes flawed, tapestry of cultures that broaden the horizons of those that wish to indulge.
Sri Lankan hospitality has a reputation that is rivaled only by its excellent Ceylon Tea (fun fact: Sri Lanka is the third largest tea exporter in the world!). The people of Sri Lanka have been battered by a three decade old civil war that ended in 2009, recent Islamist terrorist threats and the massive South East Asian Tsunami of 2004 among other events, but are quick to offer a welcoming smile and a helping hand to anyone in need. Sri Lanka has won high praise from the global travel community and continues to thrive as a top destination for travelers young and old from near and afar. In my humble (albeit somewhat biased opinion) Sri Lanka should be a destination on everyone’s travel bucket list!