Country Listing

Sri Lanka Table of Contents

Sri Lanka


Size: Pear-shaped island 29 kilometers off southeastern coast of India; total area 65,610 square kilometers, of which land area 64,740 square kilometers.

Topography: Irregular, dissected, central massif dominates south; highest elevation Pidurutalagala (2,524 meters) but better-known mountain Adam's Peak (2,243 meters), destination of interfaith pilgrimages. Coastal belt (less than 100 meters elevation) succeeded by rolling plains (100-500 meters elevation) of varying width extends from seashore to foothills of central massif. In northern half of island, topography falls away to rolling plain, relieved only by isolated ridges. Rivers extend radially from central massif to coast; longest Mahaweli Ganga (860 kilometers), which flows in northeasterly direction. About 40 percent of island forested. Coastline regular but indented by numerous lagoons and marked by sandy beaches.

Climate: Equatorial and tropical influenced by elevation above sea level, but marked by only slight diurnal and seasonal variations; temperature in Colombo (at sea level) varies from 25°C to 28°C, and in central massif (site of highest elevations) 14°C to 16°C. Subject to southwest monsoon from mid May to October and northeast monsoon December to March. Rainfall uneven; divides country climatically into wet zone comprising southwestern quarter and dry zone on remainder of island. Annual precipitation in wet zone averages 250 centimeters; in dry zone precipitation varies from 120 to 190 centimeters.

Data as of October 1988