As an important stop on ancient trade routes, there’s a great mix of cultural influences present in modern day Sri Lanka. The majority of Sri Lankans are Sinhalese Buddhists, followed by Tamils (who are mostly Hindu) and a small amount of Christians and Muslims. Various religious festivals and holy times are celebrated regularly in Sri Lanka, from large nationwide holidays to local village celebrations. As a fairly conservative nation, most locals dress modestly and displays of affection are not considered appropriate in public. While consuming alcohol isn’t forbidden at most times, being publicly intoxicated is generally frowned upon.
The influence of the British is still evident in Sri Lanka’s culture, cuisine and buildings. Drinking tea and playing cricket are the most obvious remnants of British colonial rule, although you’ll also find country cottages dotted throughout some rural regions with some serving traditional English fare like roast chicken and beef. Travelers will find that most Sri Lankans, despite having little, are quick to share their food and friendship. Known for being hospitable, generous and kind, when being offered tea or food in someone’s home, it is considered impolite to decline.