Sri Lanka is home to numerous indigenous dishes, fruits and spices. Over the centuries Sri Lankan cuisine has absorbed the cuisines of India, China, Malaysia, Arabia and Europe as people from these places passed through. Today, though by McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken are all available, most Sri Lankans prefer to eat traditional food at home. Rice and curry is main meal in almost every Sri Lankan household.

Food guidelines of the Sri Lankan government: "Mother serve leafy vegetables daily and fruits and other vegetables daily or as often as possible and choose locally available nutrition food crops." Consumers are urged to make simple, traditional recipes and reminded that "not all foods advertised in the media are nutritious or good value for the money." [Source: Washington Post]

Amount of calories consumed each day in Sri Lanka: 2,370, compared to 1,590 in Eritrea and 3,800 in the United States. [Source: U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Wikipedia Wikipedia ]

Rachel Khona wrote in New York Times: Delicacies include hoppers (fermented rice flour bowls served with a fried egg), curried jackfruit (a starchy fruit tasting like a cross between a banana and pineapple), malu paan (a fish and potato bun eaten for breakfast or as a snack), Asha’s chicken (a spicy fried chicken house specialty), pineapple curry, kale and coconut, green egg curry and kotthu (roti chopped and stir-fried with vegetables, eggs and sometimes meat). A signature dish is lamprie (also known as lamprais or lamprey). This relic of Dutch colonialism arrives in a banana leaf, and is unfolded to reveal rice, meat, curried vegetables, and even cashews.” [Source: Rachel Khona, New York Times, July 15, 2015]

Most Sri Lankans are Buddhist Sinhalese. Strict Buddhists are vegetarians. Not so strict ones, it I said, eat meat but feel guilty about it. But, according to the “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”: Contrary to what many in the West believe, there are no absolute dietary restrictions for Buddhists. Many do follow a vegetarian diet on moral grounds (ahimsa), however, and some will not eat pork recalling the Mahaparinibbana Sutta's account of how the Buddha fell ill during his last meal from eating pork. In Sri Lanka rice with various curries is consumed copiously, but monks and "nuns" refrain, in accordance with the Vinaya monastic rules, from eating solids after noon. [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”, Thomson Gale, 2006]

Concepts from ayurveda medicine are also incorporated into Sri Lankan cooking. According to ayurveda principals six tastes should be present in every meal: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Many ingredients are chosen for their medicinal qualities.

Improving Nutrition in Sri Lanka

Beginning in the 1940s, the government ran a food subsidy program that paid farmers a minimum price for their crops and also operated a rationing system that allowed people to obtain rice at a guaranteed low price. The importance of this program to the people was dramatically demonstrated in 1953, when the state's attempt to reduce subsidies led to food riots and the fall of the government. Since 1979 when the subsidy program was abolished, the government has operated a food stamp scheme that allows people in lower-income brackets to obtain free rice, wheat flour, sugar, milk powder, condensed milk, dried fish, and kerosene for cooking. This program has reached almost half the population, accounting for approximately 7 percent of the state budget. The government also operated supplementary feeding programmes, including a School Biscuit Programme designed to reach malnourished children and a Thriposha Programme to provide for 600,000 needy infants, preschool children, and pregnant mothers. (Thriposha is a precooked, protein-fortified cereal food supplement.) [Source: Russell R. Ross and Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1988 *]

Despite government intervention in the food market, malnutrition continued to be a problem among the poor, the bottom 60 percent of the population who earned less than 30 percent of the national income. As in so many other sectors, the problem remained worse in rural areas, although urban slums possessed their own share of misery. In Colombo city and district, 1 or 2 percent of preschool children experienced severe symptoms of malnutrition, while the rate was 3 or 4 percent in Puttalam District. Mild forms of malnourishment, resulting in some stunted growth, affected around 33 percent of the young children in Colombo but up to 50 percent in rural Vavuniya or Puttalam districts. Malnutrition also affected adults: one out of three agricultural laborers consumed less than 80 percent of recommended calories daily. This problem became worse after the inflation of the early 1980s that reduced the real value of food stamps by up to 50 percent. Observers doubted that poverty and malnutrition would be alleviated during the 1980s or early 1990s, while the country experienced economic uncertainty and the government was forced to spend more on security matters.

Vegetarian Buddhists and Hindus in India, Sri Lanka and China have embraced peanuts and soybeans as a source of protein. In the 1970's many children in Sri Lanka were suffering from a protein deficiency and soybeans were introduced as means providing the essential amino acids they needed. But many obstacles stood in the way. Foreign currency restrictions prevented Sri Lankans from importing soy products, the country's tropical climate made growing the temperate bean difficult and people had to be persuaded to substitute soya products for existing foods, namely coconuts, an unpredictable crop. Soy oil and soy were introduced at the perfect time. Just as were beginning to be marketed the coconut crop failed and people bought soy products out of economic necessity. [Source: Fred Hapgood, National Geographic, July 1987]

Eating Habits in Sri Lanka

Rice is the main staple food. A typical meal in Sri Lanka is a big heap of rice served with six or seven curries or curry-like dishes, and is often accompanied by various pickles, chutneys (pickled jellies made with mangos, tamarind, coriander or other fruit and spices).and sambol (a spicy condiment made of grated coconut and chili, pickles).

Most Sri Lankans have breakfast early, between 6:30am or 8:00pm. A typical rural breakfast includes eggs, bacon, bread, meat or fish curry, hoppers (thin pancake-like bread) or string hoppers (noodle-like dish) or indiappa (string hoppers made with rice flour), kiri bath (milk rice), and tea or coffee. Many ordinary Sri Lankans have just tea. "Morning tea" refers to tea eaten taken with rice cakes, fruit, or leftovers from the previous night’s meal. Major hotels off Western offer Western-style breakfasts. Some have breaffast buffets. At hotels in the hill stations and other places you can an English breakfast with porridge, cornflakes, eggs, pancakes and tea or coffee.

Lunch is served between 12:00noon and 2:00pm. It usually consists of fish curry, vegetable curry, hoppers, and fruit, pudding or ice cream. Condiments served with main dishes include chutneys, rice, green chilies, and chopped coriander leaves. Mallung (stir fried and spiced greens) is often served as a side dish. Many people have a plate of “short eats,” a variety of finger food such as meat or vegetable-filled pastries and meat or vegetable paddies.

Sri Lanka tend to eat a late dinner between 8:30pm and 10:00pm. The dishes are similar to those served at lunch. Although orthodox Buddhists are strict vegetarians, many Sinhalese eat meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. A meal is usually followed by fresh fruits or South Asian-style sweets. Tea and coconut milk are common drinks. Water is usually served during the meal and tea is served afterwards.

Sri Lankans are fond of taking tea breaks throughout the day. Many Sri Lankans follow their meal with betel nut, a stimulant that is chewed with lime and betel leaves. Sri Lankans regard it as a digestive. It turns the saliva red. Pan, an aromatic stimulant made spices and condiments such as saffron, cardamon, cloves, anise and fennel and chewed with betel nut or betel leaves is also enjoyed. Betel nut and pan often consumed throughout the day.

Eating Customs in Sri Lanka

Many people in Sri Lanka eat with their hands. Both at home and in restaurants they often begin by scooping rice on their plates. Then they put curry on top and mix everything with their fingers and make a rice-and-curry balls which they pop into their mouths. Roti (round flatbread) is used to scoop up rice, curry and other stew-like dishes. Sri Lankans insist that food tastes much better when eaten with the fingers.

Always eat with your right hand. Finger bowls are often placed at the table for washing your fingers and hands. Most Sri Lankan wait until they are finished eating to wash off their hands. If there are no finger bowls you can excuse yourself and get up and wash your hands.

At meals, men usually eat first. Women eat last after they have served the men and children of the household. This generally does not apply to visitors who are served first, regardless of gender. Westernized family may use silverware, which is usually offered to foreign guests. [Source: Bambi L. Chapin and Kalinga Tudor Silva, “Countries and Their Cultures”, The Gale Group Inc., 2001]

Sri Lankans like to drink and socialize for a couple of hours before having dinner. Meals are served family style with people helping themselves to what they want to eat from a central serving dish or dishes. It is no big deal if someone accidently drops some curry on the table while serving themselves.

Feel free to ask for second helpings, or leave food on your plate. You don't have to worry so much about offending someone. It is often a better strategy from a politeness point of view to take several small helpings rather than one large one. You can indicate you are finished by slightly pushing ahead your plate,

There is really no such thing as Dutch treat. Usually, whoever invites also pays. Food on the street is often offered in a banana leaf that can be thrown away. In rural areas, many Sri Lankans families use plantain leaves for plates. Plantains are cooking bananas. The leaves measure about one by two feet (30.5 to 61 centimeters)

For a while Colombo had a tiffin-style, home-cooked lunch delivery service like that found in Mumbai (Bombay) in India, Boys collected the lunches on bicycles with big baskets. In the early 1960s the service only cost $1 a month. Now similar services are offered by Uber Eats.

Common Dishes in Sri Lanka

The staple food of Sri Lanka is rice. This is boiled or steamed and served with a host of curries. Curries in Sri Lanka are not confined to a curried meat or a fish platter, but include vegetables and pulses as well. A typical Sri Lankan meal would consist of a "main curry" which could be fish, beef, chicken or mutton, as well as several other curries made with vegetable and lentils. Side-dishes would include pickles, chutneys and "samblos" which are fiery hot and made of ground coconut, or onions mixed with chillies, dried Maldives fish and lime juice. This is ground to a paste and relished with rice, as it gives zest to the meal and is believed to increase appetite.

A word of caution to the uninitiated: "sambols" are fiendishly hot and could leave you with a red face, burning tongue and streaming eyes. To counteract these scorching temptations there are the white curries — which are mild and subtle in flavour — and another delightful delicacy called " mallung". This is a dish of finely shredded leaves mixed with coconut (which has been grated), chopped red onions and a dash of lime juice and lightly cooked on gentle heat. There are a variety of leaves which are used to prepare a "mallung", and each has its own distinctive flavour.

Coconut milk is a common ingredient in all curries, whether hot or mild. The combination of hot and mild dishes, subtle and spicy delicacies and cool refreshing accompaniments, creates a perfect balance in the meal, making it enjoyable and memorable.

Breakfast and String Hoppers

The most popular breakfast dishes in Sri Lanka are the hoppers (appa). These wafer thin, cup-shaped pancakes are made from a fermented batter of rice flour, coconut milk and a dash of palm toddy. A hopper, crisp on the outside, yet soft and spongy in the center, is best eaten with curries and sambols while still streaming hot. There are many types of hoppers: plain hoppers, egg hoppers, milk hoppers, and sweeter varieties like vanduappa and paniappa.

Another popular breakfast dish is a rice preparation known as indi-appa or string hoppers. These are small spaghetti-like strings of rice-flour dough squeezed through a sieve onto small woven trays, which are steamed one atop the other. Light and lacy, string hoppers make a mouthwatering meal with curry and sambol.

Pittu probably came to Sri Lanka with the Malay regiments of the European colonial period. It is however completely naturalized now and is a staple of Sri Lankan cuisine. Pittu is a mixture of fresh rice meal, every lightly roasted and mixed with fresh grated coconut, then steamed in a bamboo mould. It has a soft crumbly texture and is eaten with fresh coconut 'milk' and a hot chilli relish or curry.

Home Cooked Food in Sri Lanka

Chandra Edirisuriya wrote: “My father was used to rich food having been at the Denham Hostel named after the British Director of Education E.B. Denham. Our caretaker and cook Peter Appuhamy knew how to cook to please the palate of my father. Meats such as beef, pork, mutton, chicken, wild boar and fish and eggs made into curries or fried, to eat with rice, were sine qua non in the daily diet. However my mother ate only chicken and fish and that too in small quantities. [Source: Chandra Edirisuriya, WS, June 4, 2006]

“I consider the food that my mother liked to eat as the most suitable for everyone in this country. She often advised the cooks or herself prepared the curries to be put on the hearth. Vegetables such as luffa or ribbed gourd (wetakolu), snake gourd (pathola), ash plantain (alu kesel), ladies fingers (bandakka), cucumber (pipinna), drum sticks (murunga), pumpkin (wattakka), leeks, carrot, cabbage, beans, beet root, karavila (bitter gourd) and winged bean (dambala), potatoes and pulses like dhal and green gram were prepared as white curries with very little ground chillie paste, turmeric and condiments and cooked in coconut milk. But Maldive fish(umbalakada) was an essential ingredient in the preparation of these curries. The leeks curry cooked with Maldive fish added is very pleasing to the palate. However ash pumpkin (alu puhul) was cooked as a kalu pol maluwa ie with roasted scraped coconut ground into a paste with chillies, condiments and garlic. Kekiri was cooked peeled as a white curry like cucumber or unpeeled with a little more chillies and goraka added. Greens like mukunuwenna and kankun were made into mellum or tempered with oil.

My mother liked dried fish more than she liked fresh fish. Seer (thora), paraw, moralla, habarali, pulunna, mee wetiya, karalla, shark (mora), sprats, mullet (gal malu) and other kinds of dried white fish, were cooked the way vegetables were cooked using less chillies and condiments, in coconut milk. Dried blood fish such as kelawalla (tuna), balaya (bonito), salaya (sardines), hurulla (herrings), kumbalawa (jack mackerel) and black ray fish (kalu maduwa) was usually tempered (thelen thambala) with coconut oil, using only chillie paste, onions, green chillies, curry leaves etc. but not condiments.

Rice and curry was eaten for both lunch and dinner and the breakfast of the Sinhala people consisted of heel bath or diya bath and boiled rice with kiri hodi (coconut soup) or pol sambol. Maldive fish was an essential ingredient in pol sambol so much so Professor G. P. malalasekera is known to have failed a girl student at the viva voce test for university entrance for not mentioning it when asked how to make a pol sambol. Our cook Peter Appuhamy added garlic and even the root of murunga (drum sticks) to the pol sambol. Various kinds of porridge lunu kenda, kiri kenda, kola kenda (herbal porridge) were taken with kitul jaggery in the morning. Kiri bath (milk rice) and imbul kiri bath (milk rice stuffed with scraped coconut cooked in treacle) were favourites among the Sinhala people. Desserts consist of fruits like the mango, bananas and plantains, curd and treacle, habala pethi etc. Beverages taken are boiled ranawara, beli mal, pol pala, iramusu (sarasaparilla) water with jaggery. Palmyra fruit, kirala fruit and wood apple juice mixed with coconut milk and jaggery are other favourite drinks, also taken as desserts. Other indigenous or naturalised foods such as ripe jak fruit, boiled or curried mature jak fruit, bread fruit, manioc and other yams like kiri ala, hirgurala, wel ala, rajaala are of high food value and health giving.

Lamprais is a popular Dutch dish in Sri Lanka. Rice boiled in beef stock, then added to vegetables and meat and baked in a low oven after it is wrapped in a banana leaf. Baking the rice in a banana leaf gives a special flavour to the rice. Lamprais has a unique flavour and an appetizing aroma.

In an article published in the Hindu on 05-09-2003 titled ‘Junk food: Quick route to diabetes’ the writer R. Prasad says calories from junk food when not burned lead to a state of being overweight or even obese. And the net result is the environment abetting the genes to an onset of diabetes even at an early age. A patriot, in a letter to the editor of a newspaper, had mentioned recently that rather than consuming food items made from imported wheat flour, it would be wise to eat kiri bath (milk rice) for breakfast. This is indeed food for thought as it would uplift the living conditions of our farmers and save much needed foreign exchange too. It is a myth that kiri bath makes people lazy, for not even kiri bath can stop an indefatigable worker.

Traditional Monk Foods

Chandra Edirisuriya wrote: The monks of ancient Lanka had to spend a considerable portion of the fore noon in connection with their food. There were common refectories attached to large monasteries like the Mahavihara, the Abhayagiriya and Mihintale. Thousands of bhikkhus went to these places for food. Fa Hien gives an eye – witness account: “They get their food from their common stores. The king, besides, prepares elsewhere in the city a common supply of food for five or six thousand more.” About two centuries later Hiuen Tsiang gives us an account on hearsay: “By the side of the king’s palace there is built a large kitchen, in which daily is measured out food for eight thousand priests.” The Rasavahini corroborates the accounts of these Chinese pilgrims when it says that from five great monasteries (pancamahavasa) monks and nuns assembled at Maha pali for alms. Bhikkhus went on pindapatha particularly for ghee and oil. [Source: Chandra Edirisuriya, WS, June 4, 2006]

There was light refreshment, some times, between two meals, with some snacks called antara – khajjaka and consisted of such things as honey (madhu) and jaggery (sakkara). Sometimes even preparations of meat were included. A story in the Rasavahini relates how a setthi entertained monks three times in the fore noon with delicious preparations including hare (sasa – mamsa). A special preparation of hare was included in the antara – khajjaka as well as in the other two meals. We learn from the Tonigala Inscription that the diet of monks in the 4th century. included among other things, curd (di), honey (miyavata), treacle (peni), sesame (tila), butter of ghee (bu(ja) natela), salt (lona) and green herbs (palahavata).’

Food Rituals in Sri Lanka

According to “Countries and Their Cultures”: Kiribath, rice cooked in coconut milk, is part of nearly every ceremonial occasion in Sri Lanka. Kawum (sweet oil cakes) and other special snacks are also popular at special events. Alcoholic beverages do not play a role in the formal rituals of Sri Lanka, being condemned by Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism alike. Alcohol is, however, a ubiquitous part of men's social gatherings, where beer, toddy (fermented palm nectar), arrack (distilled palm nectar), and kassipu (an illegally distilled beverage), are consumed in great quantities. [Source: Bambi L. Chapin and Kalinga Tudor Silva, “Countries and Their Cultures”, The Gale Group Inc., 2001]

Asiff Hussein wrote in the Sunday Observor: “ The fist birth rite performed on the newborn today is the ceremony of rankiri kata gema, the application of breast milk touched with gold on the lips of the infant. [Source: Asiff Hussein, Sunday Observer Virtual Library Sri Lanka ]

That the practice is an old one, there cannot be any doubt. It is similar in many respects to an ancient Hindu rite prescribed in the Ashvalayana Sutra where it is stated that the father of the newborn should make it suck the ghee and honey rubbed in gold by placing it in the mouth of the child, before it is taken away. The bat kevima or first feed of rice is another important childhood ritual among the Sinhalese and has to take place during the 6th, 8th, 10th or 12th month in the case of boys and in the 5th, 7th, 9th or 11th month in the case of girls. The task is usually performed by the father or paternal grandfather and although tradition prescribes that the first meal be a variety of al hal, nowadays hinati hal is often used along with kitul jaggery.

The custom could be considered the equivalent of the Hindu annaprashana which finds mention in ancient Hindu ritual texts. The Ashvalayana Sutra for instance prescribes that the child be fed cereal in its 6th month and that he who desires his child be intelligent should feed it cooked rice mixed with ghee and honey. That the ritual figured among the ancient Sinhalese is borne out by the Chulavamsa which has it that King Manabharana had the ceremony of the first feed of rice (annapasana) performed for his son Parakramabahu according to custom. The Dhampiya Atuva Getapadaya of the 10th century also refers to the custom of feeding the child rice gruel (hambu povana).

Sinhala and Tamil New Year Foods

During the New Year holiday season people cook and eat “kiri bath” (milk rice). The first official act of the new year is the lighting of the hearth which is used to make the kiri bath. Other foods associated with the holiday include plantains, “kokis”(a Dutch sweetmeat) and “kaung” (an oily cake).

Godwin Witane wrote in The Island: During the New Year period every household prepared sweetmeats or rasa kevili for the occasion. They included kavun, kokis. athi rasa, aasmi, kalu dodol, Aluwa, mungedi and weli-talapa. Few days before the dawn of the New Year, my father selected two or three matured bunches of plantains from our garden. Having dug a pit in the garden he usually wrapped the bunches of plantains in biling leaves and fronds of keppitiya plant and after placing the bunches of plantains flat in the pit covered it with planks over which he piles up the dug up earth. Into this pit smoke was blown in twice a day both in the morning and evening. For this he devised a global gadjet made out of two coconut shells that have holes and in the shape of a husked coconut. Into this ball he stuffed coir fiber and shredded dry plantain leaves and placed it carefully at a top corner of the pit. When a piece of burning ember was introduced to the ball through the hole on top and blown into it with the mouth the packed coir and leaves caught fire forming a cloud of smoke that filled the pit completely. When smoke was seen leaking through the loose earth it was prevented by stamping more earth on these places. When this process is carried out twice a day, morning and evening for two days the plantain bunches get ripened and when taken out of the pit they are completely yellow. These ripe plantains along with the various sweets adorn every table in all Sinhalese houses. [Source: Godwin Witane, The Island, Virtual Library Sri Lanka ]

Dr. Upali Pilapitiya wrote: “The food which is taken during Sinhala New Year has many nutritious values. Sweet meat such as Mung Kevum, Konda Kavum made of brown rice, flour, Unduvel made of undu are indigenous sweets. All they have many food and nutritious values. Taking meals at an auspicious time with all family members sitting together is a noble, and healthy custom. [Source: Dr. Upali Pilapitiya, Virtual Library Sri Lanka ]

“This happy get together should be adapted at all meals, and not confined to the New Year table alone. Many indulge in unwanted arguments and talks while taking meals. The Avurudu custom, gives the signal to avoid such unhealthy manners. Happy state of mind is very necessary for the proper digestion of food. Ayurveda makes it clear that wholesome food taken at proper time in proper quantity will not digest properly if the person is in bad mental state, such as fear, sorrow or arrogance. Therefore happy state at meals is ulmost importance in attaining healthy digestion.

Food Preparation and Eating During Sinhala and Tamil New Year

Describing food preparation in her family during Sinhala and Tamil New Year, Sybil Wettasinghe wrote: “Aththamma had brought out her big rabana, The largest tambourine, propped up on three wooden legs. Before beating a tune with her fingers Aththamma heated the rabana over burning coals to make the tune clearer when playing on it. Mother and Caroline were in the kitchen with everything ready for the making of kiribath and waiting for the auspicious time to light the hearth. Washed rice was in the brand new pot. The hearth was made with dry wood and a small sheaf of dried coconut fronds. The box of matches was at hand. That moment, everybody in every household was waiting for the auspicious time to light the hearth to welcome the New Year. And then the temple bells pealed, the burst of fire crackers filled the air. From far and near came the rhythmic beat of the rabana playing. [Source: Sybil Wettasinghe, Virtual Library Sri Lanka ]

“In our own kitchen the fire in the hearth began to crackle richly. I watched how the new pot with rice was slowly getting covered with soot on the hearth. Caroline cracked the coconut and began scraping it, to extract the milk to add to the rice when cooked to make kiribath — milk rice. A smile was appearing and disappearing on Caroline's face. Out in the yard Aththamma was beating a popular tune on her rabana When I went to her, she taught me to play a simple accompaniment to her beat. "Punchi batala getatumba kola Linda watakara bahina batala."

“Soon the smell of kiribath came swirling out of every kitchen in the neighbourhood and the spirit of a happy New Year filled the air. Our dining room became charmingly alive. A pure white cloth was laid on the table. On it was placed the small brass lamp polished for the occasion and new wicks and oil ready for lighting at the auspicious time, before partaking of the first meal of the New Year. Mother brought in the big tray of kiribath cut into diamond shapes, and placed it on the center of the table. The various types of sweetmeats were arranged around the tray of kiribath. There were kevum, asme, athirasa, kokis and aluwa and also a luscious comb of golden yellow bananas. One could eat the kiribath with either the red chilli sambol that was there or with jaggery.

“Just a little before the appointed time to partake of the first meal for the New Year, father lit the lamp and kindled a handful of joss sticks and placed them in a little jar on the window sill. The smoke carrying the smell of burning incense went curling around creating an aura of divine sanctity. Mother dished out platefuls of the meal for everyone and we waited for the auspicious time to eat. The first meal for the New Year had to be taken facing a certain direction prescribed by astrologers each year.

Once again the temple bells pealed and then it was time to begin the meal. Mother handed father his plate of food and ours were given in turn. There was a most peculiar thing that intrigued me in this whole ceremony. Before we began to eat our food, each one of us had to pick out a bit of every item of food on our plates and drop into a piece of banana leaf. This was taken outside the house and placed on a high elevation away from cats and dogs.

“I asked my father for whom this food was meant to be. And he told me it was for the unseen ones, the spirits of the dead. I was unable to understand how the dead could turn into spirits and still lurk around. But all I saw was that the birds and squirrels too had a feast as well on New Year's day, which I thought was a wonderful thing.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Sri Lanka Tourism (, Government of Sri Lanka (, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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