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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Environment In Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is shaped like a giant teardrop falling from the vast Indian subcontinent. It is separated from India by the 50km wide Park Strait. The island is just 350km long and only 180km wide.

The southern half of the island is dominated by beautiful hill country. The entire northern half comprises a large plain extending from the edge of the hill country to the Jaffna peninsula.

The highest mountain is the 2524m Mt Pidurutalagala near Nuwara Eliya and the longest river is the Mahaweli which courses from the centre and empties into the Indian Ocean at Trincomalee. The best beaches are on the south-western, southern and south-eastern coasts.

Ebony, teak, silk wood and spectacular orchids are found in the dense South-western tropical rainforests. Hardy grasslands, rhododendrons and stunted forests predominate in the cool, damp highlands, and shrubs and grasslands survive in arid zones in the north. Animal life is profuse and includes the ubiquitous elephant, as well as leopards, deer, monkeys, sloth bears, wild boar, cobras, crocodiles, dugong and turtles. The island is an important seasonal home to migrating birds, including flamingoes, who flock to the lagoons, wetlands and bird sanctuaries for respite from the northern winter. The best time to see birds is between January and April.

Sri Lanka is a typically tropical country with distinct dry and wet seasons with two monsoons: the Yala season (May to August), when the south-west monsoon brings rain to the southern, western and central regions; and the Maha season (October to January), when the north-east monsoon brings rain to the north and east of the island. Temperatures in the low-lying coastal regions are high year round but they rapidly fall with altitude and in the hill country, where it feels like perpetual spring. The highest temperatures are from March through June while November to January is usually the coolest time of the year. Rainfall is heaviest in the south, south west and central highlands; the northern and north-central regions are very dry. The best time to visit the west, south coast and hill country is between December and March. May to September is best on the east coast.

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