After being isolated for long periods during the Civil War and battered by the 200 tsunami, the Eastern Province is welcoming visitors once again. Although the scars of both still remain, the area is now in the midst of a revival. The tourism potential of its beautiful coastline has been recognized, and major plans are underway to improve the infrastructure. Along with exploring unspoiled beaches and jungle-covered ruins, visitors can enjoy whale-watching, wreck-diving and surfing. Located in the dry zone, the Eastern Province is one of Sri Lanka’s most ethnically diverse areas, with a mix of Sinhalese, Muslim and Tamil communities. Most of the area’s population resides in towns and small fishing villages along the coastline, while places inland remain less developed and sparsely populated. The principal town on the East Coast is Trincomalee, which shaped much of the area’s early history.
The East Coast is home to beautiful beaches and is also considered to be one of the best places in Sri Lanka for surfing. Trincomalee, the capital of the province, is famed for its impressive natural harbor, but the majority of visitors base themselves at the peaceful beaches afford superb opportunities for snorkeling, sport fishing and whale-watching. Further down the coast, Batticaloa offers one of the island’s best wreck-dives to the HMS Hermes that lies off its shores. A short distance north stretch the formerly war-torn beaches of Pasikudah and Kalkudah, which are now experiencing a resurgence in popularity among tourists. The surfing hotspot of Arumugam Bay, at the southern end of the coastline, offers the best waves and also serves as a good base for trips to the Lahugala and Kumana national parks as well as the Kudumbigala Hermitage.
The Eastern Province is one of the nine provinces of Sri Lanka, the first level administrative division of the country. The provinces have existed since the 19th century but did not have any legal status until 1987 when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils.