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Indian Subcontinent >> Sri Lanka >> Sri Lanka Geographical Information

Sri Lanka Geographical Information

Though a small country - it measures a modest 353 kilometres from north to south, and 183 kilometres across at its widest, Sri Lanka has everything one could want from a tourist destination – forests, mountains, beaches, lakes and the rivers. Coastal plains surround the central highlands, while the northern and north-central plains, which extend upto the northern tip of the country, are comparatively dry. At the extreme north west of Sri Lanka is Mannar Island joined to the mainland by a bridge, which is almost connected to India by a chain of sandbanks and islets, known as Adam’s Bridge. Sri Lanka’s highest mountain is Piduratalagala (2524 mt), although equally, and perhaps better, known, is Adam’s Peak (2224 mt). The country’s longest river is Mahaweli, which has its source near Adam’s Peak and its mouth in the sea near Trincomalee.

Flora and Fauna The southwest part of the island country is wet tropical – typical rainforest vegetation, evergreen and teeming with wildlife. The central and northern hill country has grasslands, rhododendrons and other mountain trees – usually covered with orchids. The rest of the island is much drier, with sparser tree cover and grasslands.

Although a tiny bit of land, Sri Lanka is rich in wildlife. It has more than 80 mammal species, including elephants that seem to be virtually everywhere, leopards, deer, wild boar and smaller mammals. There are a whopping 450 species of birds, of which 200 odd are migratory and another 21 or so unique to Sri Lanka. Fish and reptiles also abound in the waterways of Sri Lanka and in the surrounding seas. Beware, though: crocodiles are to be found in some of the rivers!

Fortunately, Sri Lanka has done a fair deal towards preserving its wildlife: around 25% of the country is still under forest cover and about 10% of the country’s land area is protected - in fact, the world’s first wildlife sanctuary was Sri Lankan: it was established in the 3rd century BC through an edict issued by the king Devanampiya Tissa. Today, the Sri Lankan government recognises more than a 100 protected areas, including Wilpattu -the largest park in Sri Lanka, Yala (East and West), Horton Plains, Bundala Sanctuary, and the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary.

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