The Southern Province as it is today must be viewed against a tapestry depicting a rich history replete with archaeological treasures and religious edifices that speak eloquently of a great cultural inheritance all of which provide evidence of a civilization that is indeed older than many European civilizations, whose identity has been preserved despite the southern maritime region being subject to successive rules and the consequent impact of foreign cultures and influences.
A tropical evergreen verdant rain forest with rare species of flora and fauna. Of the total extent (11,330 hectares), approximately 20% (2,300 hectares) are in the southern province. Sinharaja Forest reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians. The two main nature trails of Sinharaja Rain Forest are those lead to the peak of Moulawella and the peak of Sinhagala. Both of these nature trails begins at Kudawa Conservation Centre (KCC) are equally enjoyable and enlightening.
Along with the beautiful beaches of Southern Province, you can witness a group of fishermen fishing with a unique method. Stilt fishing is the method of fishing distinct to the island region. The fishermen sit on a cross bar called a ‘petta’ tied to a vertical pole and driven into the sand a few meters offshore. From this high position, the fishermen cast his line, and wait until a fish comes along to be caught. Although the approach looks primitive and ancient, stilt fishing is actually a recent tradition.
Built by the Portuguese in 1619, expanded by the Dutch and British, Galle fort is a world heritage site. Most of the buildings are of Dutch period and well preserved. The present national museum building is the oldest built in 1656. The first marine museum in Sri Lanka is housed near the old gate. At the far end of the fort is the light House.
The golden beaches of the Southern Province, the diversity of its nature and its unique culture have made it popular among tourists. Because of growing popularity of its beautiful and pristine beaches, tourism plays a major role in the economy of the region and at present 45% of the workforce is directly or indirectly engaged in tourism.