Land Studies

Land Studies​

Sri Lanka is a small island in the Indian Ocean. It’s total land area is 65,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi) with a coastline of 1,340 km (833 mi). The geography of Sri Lanka shows remarkable variances from the north to the south to the east to the west and into the central parts of the island. From ancient times till the 1980’s a majority of people lived in small villages in agricultural settings. The agricultural pursuits depended upon the ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ climates which was influenced by dependence of water. The total arable land of the total land was 13.96% on which permanent crops composed 15.24% as of 2005. In recent times forest clearance and deforestation has resulted in soil erosion. Urbanization in the past few decades has threatened wildlife populations. Other environment problems with industrialization and population growth have been coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff; waste disposal and air pollution in Colombo.

Precipitation and irrigation map of Sri Lanka
Precipitation and irrigation map of Sri Lanka


Topographical zones

Three topographical zones can be identified in the Sri Lankan landscape. The heart of the country in the south central of Sri Lanka is the Central Highlands. This area includes Sri Lanka’s highest mountains. (Pidurutalagala is the highest at 2,524 m). Adam’s Peak(2,243 meters) Namunakula (2,036 m). Flanking the high central ridges are two lower plateaus.
The Plains of the country lie between the altitudes of 30 m to 300m. In the southwest, ridges and valleys rise gradually to merge with the Central Highlands, giving a dissected appearance to the plain.

Much of the Coastal Belt cosists of scenic sandy beaches and lie in the below 30m above sea level range. Towards the southwest and northeast the coast cuts across rocks and rocky cliffs making natural harbors at Galle and Trincomalee respectively.

Topography of Sri Lanka


Furthermore the Sri Lankan land area can also be classified into Climatic Zones

As we can see most of the country’s land is classified under the Tropical Savanna Climate with the lightest blue colour.
The bit brighter blue colour covering the southwestern region is identified as the Monsoon climate.
The brighter blue colour denotes the Equatorial climate and covers most of the coastal areas towards the southwest.
The lower mid southern geographical area is found to be in the temperate oceanic climate.

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During the last 2500 years human settlement in Sri lanka consisted of farming communities. Traditional farming techniques depended on the wet and dry techniqued farming enterprises.
As populations expanded and commercial ventures took shape it reduced forest land. In the 1980s, the area drained by the Mahaweli Ganga changed from a sparsely inhabited region to a wet rice area similar to the southwest. Through such projects, the government of Sri Lanka has planned to recreate in the dry zone the lush, irrigated landscape associated with the ancient Sinhalese civilization. (
Beginning in the sixteenth century the planation economy dominated the highlands reducing forest cover and substation of domesticated crops. With it the hunting gathering life style changed with more populations moving to the central lands.
Separate fishing settlements expanded laterally along the coast, linked by a coastal highway and a railway. The mobility of the coastal population during colonial times and after independence led to an increase in the size and number of villages, as well as to the development of growing urban centers with outside contacts. (
Most prevalent issues regarding land matters now are the urbanization and development models that still claim forest landscapes increasing the ecological concern. There has also been an issue of garbage and improper disposal methods of garbage which pile on in habitable lands. Towards the north and the east regions settlement in lands as well as the military occupancy in the areas comprise issues that has developed in ethnic, religious and social concerns.