Sri Lanka is an island in the
Indian Ocean, located to the south of Indian Subcontinent.
Sprawling over the area of 65, 610 square kilometers, Sri Lanka
with its tear-dropped shape is dominated by the astonishingly
varied features of topography, making it one of the most scenic
places in the world. Three zones can be divided by its
distinguished elevation: the Central Highland, the plains, and the
At the core of the island is
dominated by a high plateau in which several highest mountains of
Sri Lanka are situated. Among them, the highest pinnacle is Pidurutalagala
Mountain levitating at 2,524 meters of its height; Sri Lankan
people consider this mountain as the sacred site of pilgrimage.
The Adam's Peak lying to the west, at the southern end of
the plateau is better known for its spectacular scenery and sacred
pilgrimage site with its elevation of 2224 meters.
Then the land descends from the
Central Highlands to a series of flat plains between 30 and 200
meters above sea level, dominating the east and the north of the
island. Extensive erosion in this area has worn down and deposited
the rich soil good for agriculture.
A coastal belt surrounds the
island, consisting of scenic sandy beaches and lagoons. Best
beaches line along the southern coast, southwestern coast and
eastern coast. In the northeast and the southwest, the coasts cut
across the stratification of crystalline rocks, cliffs, bays, and
offshore islands, creating one of the world's best natural harbors
at Trincomalee on the northeastern coast and a smaller rock
harbor at Galle on the southwestern coast. In the
northwest, Mannar Island which is joined with the mainland
by a bridge is almost connected to the southern India by a long
chain of sandbanks and islets called Adam's Bridge.
Rivers in Sri Lanka originates in
the Central Highlands, near Adam's Peak and flow through the
gorges, broad valley and plains and finally empty in the sea near
Trincomalee, creating the different landscapes of escarpments,
waterfalls and deep gorges. Most of the rivers are short and
frequently interrupted by the discontinuities of terrain. The
longest river of Sri Lanka is the Mahaweli Ganga River with
it length of 335 kilometers. The upper reach of the river is wild
and non-navigable while the lower reaches are prone to the
seasonal flooding. The river is the most important water necessity
for the irrigation system in the northeast region in which natural
rainfalls are deficient.
Lying in the equatorial and
tropical zone, Sri Lanka is influenced by the monsoons, allowing
two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The difference of elevation
also influences temperature variation; it is always hot in the
lowland and it gets cooler when reaching the higher altitudes. The
annually average temperature of the country as a whole varies from
26°C-28°C and dips down to 14°C-16°C in the Central Highlands.
November to January is the coolest time of the year whereas
February through May is the hottest period.
There are two monsoonal seasons
in Sri Lanka, making its climate more complex and varied in
different regions. In mid-May through October, the Southwest
monsoon, called in Lankan language as "Yala season",
brings moisture from the Indian Ocean, resulting in the heavy
rains in the south and west coasts as well as in the Central
Highlands. Some windward slopes receive up to 250 centimeters of
rain per month. In this period, the northern and eastern parts of
the island are left drier with a little quantity of rainfall as
lying in the leeside. When it comes to the Northeast monsoon
("Maha season" in Lankan) which lasts from
December to March, the moisture brought from the Bay of Bengal
causes downpours in the Northeast region of the island. The
northeastern slopes of the mountains may be inundated with up to
125 centimeters of rains during these months.