Art & Culture

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Sri Lanka’s arts and crafts are strongly inspired by its Buddhist culture, with many ancient paintings, sculptures and architecture originating from the country's religious beliefs and customs. Cave temple paintings are a unique feature of Sri Lanka, most of which can be seen at the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Dambulla Cave Temple.

Other arts and crafts include the traditional wooden handicrafts and clay pottery, which are popular in the hill country. Portuguese-inspired lacework and Indonesian-inspired Batik can also be seen in certain parts of the island.

Sri Lanka is a land of great cultural diversity. The most visible features of the cultural landscape are Buddhist temples, Kovils, Mosques and Churches, each with their own colorful rituals. The varying degrees of colonial impact, modernizing influences, wealth and income all add vibrant shades to the country’s culture. 

The island also has a rich artistic tradition, encompassing music, dance, and the visual arts. Sri Lankan culture is internationally associated with cricket, a distinct cuisine, an indigenous holistic medicine practice, and religious iconography such as the Buddhist flag.

Buddhism and Portuguese colonizers are the two primary influences on Sri Lankan music. Hypnotic drumming is one such traditional music that can be heard at Buddhist and Hindu temples in the country. The Portuguese, on the other hand, brought cantiga ballads, ukuleles and guitars, along with African Slaves, who further diversified the island's musical roots with dance music called ‘baila’.

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, with the majority of the community being Sinhalese. Other ethnic groups that make up Sri Lanka's epic society include Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils, Moors, and other minorities such as Malays and Burghers. Each of these groups has its own identity, customs & traditions.

Sinhala and Tamil are the two official languages. The majority of people speak Sinhala, while Tamil is commonly used in the north and east of the country. English is widely spoken and understood by most, and it is the language of business & commerce.