Sri Lanka - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Sri Lanka, an Island Nation off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent has a total land area of 25,332 square miles and a population of over 20.2 million. Sri Lanka is classified as a lower middle-income developing nation. It is a strategic naval link in the southern hemisphere. With its lush tropical forests, white beaches and various landscapes it qualifies as a natural beauty. Forest reserves now account for only 30% of the total land area. Agricultural products were the mainstays of the economy in earlier times. Privatization, and deregulation has added the significant sectors in today’s market – which is food processing, textiles, telecommunication and finance.

Travel Resources: 

November through April is considered the best time to visit the south west coast and May through September for east coast. Tea, coffee, coconut, rubber and cinnamon are cultivated in large quantities.Major attractions include national parks such as Yala, Wilpattu, Gal Oya, Uda Walawe , Horton Plains etc., and the seven World Heritage Sites including Colombo, Anuradhapura, and Ratnapura. Its cuisine is very unusual with dishes like pitu, Kiribahti, wattalappam and hoppers.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Sri Lanka Country Guide978-1741048353$16A Traveler’s introduction spanning 75 pages followed by chapters on Colombo, West Coast, The South, The Hill Country, The Ancient Cities, The East, and Jaffna and the North.
Sri Lanka Travel Map978-0794605261$91:525,000 Scale. City Plans of Anuradhapura, Central Kandy, Colombo, Galle, Kandy, Negombo, Nuwara Eliya Town, and Polonnaruwa.
Sri Lanka Grounded Adapter Plug – GUB and GUFB001FD7CNO$15

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamp of Sri Lanka was a stamp released on May 22, 1972 to mark the inauguration of Ceylon as Republic of Sri Lanka. The stamp (Scott #470) is inexpensive and catalogs for less than 50c MNH or used. The design shows lotus flower and sunrise over Adam’s Peak. This issue was followed in the same year by two other stamps and a set of four stamps released on October 17, 1972 to mark the third session of Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission. That set (Scott #473 to #476) is sought after and catalogs for around $8 MNH or used. The designs show Tropical Fish: imperial angelfish, green chromide, skipjack bonito, and black ruby barbs. Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka on May 22, 1972 and all issues before that time has the country name inscription as ‘Ceylon’. The country gained independence from the United Kingdom as a dominion on February 4, 1948 and became a republic on May 22, 1972.

Other issues of Sri Lanka enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of four stamps and a souvenir sheet of four released on June 16, 1976 in the Gems of Sri Lanka theme. The set (Scott #507 to #510 and SS) catalogs for around $85 MNH and around $55 used. The designs show blue sapphire, cat’s-eye, star sapphire, and ruby. Some of the worlds most famous blue sapphires such as Logan sapphire, Star of India, and Star of Bombay originate from Lankan mines.
  2. A set of four stamps released on November 11, 1986 to publicize the need for the preservation of mangrove habitats. The set (Scott #815 to #818) catalogs for around $12 MNH or used. The designs show mangrove habitat, rhizophora apiculata, germinating flower, and fiddler crab.
  3. A set of four stamps and a souvenir sheet of four released on May 17, 1991 showing various scenes from Buddha’s life. The set (Scott #993 to #996 and SS) catalogs for around $10 MNH and a little less for used. The set was issued to mark the Vesak Festival. Sri Lanka has released a number of sets over the years for the Vesak Festival and all of them catalog for a slight premium over regular issues from the same period. They form a good collectible theme. Vesak is a cultural and religious festival in Sri Lanka celebrated on the full moon of the month of May for a week. The festival is informally called Buddha’s Birthday although it encompasses the birth, enlightenment, and passing away of Buddha. Buddhism is the majority religion in Sri Lanka with around 70% following it.
  4. A set of four stamps released on May 22, 2003 to mark the World Biodiversity Day. The set (Scott #1426 to #1429) catalogs for around $2 MNH and around a dollar for used. The designs show Pidurutalagal Mountain Range, Seven Maidens Mountain Range, Kirigalpoththa Mountain, and Ritigala Mountain.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Sri Lanka were Democratic Socialist Republic Decimal Coinage (100 Cents = 1 Rupee) Aluminum Cents issued in 1975 showing value, designs, and wreath in Obverse and Navy emblem in Reverse. They had very high mintage and can be had for well under a dollar in BU. Prior to this, Sri Lanka has a long history of issuing coins dating back to 3rd century BC as Anuradpura. Till 1948, the area issued coins as Ceylon. Ancient Gold Coins of Ceylon are very rare and command a huge premium.

Numismatic items of Sri Lanka include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon UNC Cents from the 1970s onward starts around $1. Rupee and other high value proofs start around $10. Year Sets, Bi-Metallic Sets, etc start around $20. Very High Value (100 Rupees and up) Commemorative Proofs starts around $50. UNC Coin Lots of 100 pieces or more, Gold Coins, etc go well into the 100s.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNC Rupees starts around $1. Recent High Value UNCs (100 Rupees or more) starts around $5. Very High Value (1000 Rupees or more) UNCs, Consecutive Serial Number UNCs with 10-pieces or more, etc start around $30. Very High Value UNCs from the 1980s and prior dates start around $50. Recent Year Sets, Early Rare Notes, Rare Uncut Sheets and Bundles go well into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Gemstones$1 and upGarnet, Moonstone, Sapphire etc loose beads start around $1. Sapphire Gemstones start around $50 and go well into the 1000s depending on clarity, rarity, carats, and other factors.
Art$10 and upVintage Local Scenes Art Posters start around $10. 19th century local scenes and personnel photo prints start around $30. Signed original works and photographs by Lionel Wendt start around $50 and go well into the 100s.
Antiques$20 and up19th century maps start around $20. Older maps, 19th century masks, etc go into the 100s.
Miscellaneous Collectibles$3 and upSouvenir Key Tags, patches, flags, magnets, etc start around $3. Acavus Haemastomus Land Snail Shells, Sri Lanka Ruby Necklace Earring Sets, Historically relevant photographs etc start around $20. Large Blue Sapphire Rough Specimens (over 15ct) go into the 100s.

Last Updated: 12/2015.

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