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Sri Lanka hangs like a jewel off India's tip, surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Marco Polo called it "the finest island of its size in all the world."
Sri Lanka has been known to explorers since antiquity. Arabic explorers called the island "Serendib." This is the basis for the English word serendipity, an apt term for an island with happy discoveries around every turn.
Devastated by Tsunami
On December 26, 2004, Sri Lanka was devastated by an enormous tsunami. Over 30,000 people died and 2.5 million people were displaced. World governments and aid organizations rushed aid to tsunami victims. The rebuilding continues.
Although it is only the size of West Virginia, Sri Lanka boasts an incredible variety of unique experiences to beckon the visitor.
Many travellers seek out Sri Lanka's palm-fringed beaches and fine surfing.
Misty mountains in the island's center offer a respite from the tropical heat and provide perfect growing conditions for the Ceylon tea introduced by the British during colonial rule.
Nestled in the mountains is the ancient capital of Kandy, home to the Buddhist Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth). During the annual Kandy Perahera festival, the tooth (said to belong to Buddha himself) is paraded through the streets on an elephant's back, accompanied by dancers, drummers, and torch bearers.
Thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura each year to view historic Buddist temples and the famed Bo tree. The tree was planted in 245 BC to symbolize the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is said to have been taken from the original Bo tree under which Buddha attained enlightment and is one of the oldest known trees in the world.
Sri Lanka's bounty is reflected in its cuisine. Rice is served with a variety of curried meats and vegetables. "Curry" refers to a combination of spices, rather than a single spice, and includes the native cinnamon, cloves, cardamons and nutmeg that have attracted traders to Sri Lanka for centuries.
Visitors to Sri Lanka will never forget this "Pearl of the Indian Ocean."
Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff