Shaped like a teardrop below India, Sri Lanka divides the Arabian Sea from the Bay of Bengal. Famed for a warm welcome and laid-back atmosphere, this ancient culture is blessed with superb temples, rich wildlife, Ayurvedic massages, and some great tropical surf. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is still being shaped by two modern catastrophic events: the civil war, which has been raging since 1983 (64,000 deaths) and the 2004 tsunami (3,000 deaths). For centuries, the Tamils have been claiming the north and eastern part of the island for the Sinhalese people and most of the bombings are aimed at government targets in northern Jaffna or Colombo, however, in September 2006, local unrest between Pottuville residents and security forces, sadly spilled over into peaceful Arugam Bay. An exodus of visitors followed and resulted in a travel warning. First surfed in 1964, Arugam Bay is no longer a surf secret, but on 26th December 2004, it was almost erased off the surfing map by the Boxing Day tsunami. The three waves, estimated to be 45ft (13m) high, struck this region with apocalyptic force, flattening the fishing villages, the beachside hotels and restaurants and destroying 80% of Sri Lanka's entire fishing fleet. Despite this disaster, the waves are still breaking, better than ever, with consistently small, perfect righthand peelers, that make Arugam Bay an intermediates heaven. Arugam Bay (the 7 villages) is often compared to Kuta, Bali in the late '70s to early '80s, before the major developments and the civil war has contributed to keeping the village in its most basic form. A-Bay is the focus, despite difficult access via a narrow bridge and checkpoint, but there seems an endless supply of sheltered sand-bottom pointbreaks along this southeastern coast.