Geography & Climate

Sri Lanka lies on the Indian Ocean, southwest of the Bay of Bengal. Sri Lanka is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait. The island consists mostly of flat to rolling coastal plains, with mountains rising only in the south-central part. The highest point is Pidurutalagala or Mount Pedro, reaching 2,524 metres (8,281 ft) above sea level.

The country has 103 rivers. The longest of these is the Mahaweli River, extending 335 km (208 mi).These waterways give rise to 51 natural waterfalls of 10 meters or more. The highest is Bambarakanda Falls, with a height of 263m (863 ft). Sri Lanka's coastline is 1,585 km long. It claims an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extending 200 nautical miles, which is approximately 6.7 times the country's land area. The island is also rich in minerals such as Ilmonite, Feldspar, Graphite, Silica, Kaolin, Mica and Thorium.

The climate is tropical and warm. Mean temperatures range from 17 °C (62.6 °F) in the central highlands, where frost may occur for several days in the winter, to a maximum of 33 °C (91.4 °F) in other low-altitude areas. Average yearly temperatures range from 28 °C (82.4 °F) to nearly 31 °C (87.8 °F). Day and night temperatures may vary by 14 °C (25.2 °F) to 18 °C (32.4 °F).

Rainfall pattern is influenced by monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. The "wet zone" and some of the windward slopes of the central highlands receive up to 2,500 mm (98.4 in) of precipitation each month. The "dry zone" receives between 1,200 and 1,900 mm (47 and 75 in) of rain annually. The arid northwest and southeast coasts receive the least amount of rain at 800 to 1,200 mm (31 to 47 in) per year. Periodic squalls occur and sometimes tropical cyclones bring overcast skies and rains to the southwest, northeast, and eastern parts of the island. Humidity is typically higher in the southwest and mountainous areas and depends on the seasonal patterns of rainfall.

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