Sri Lanka is a pear shaped island about 438km (272mi) long and about 225km (140mi) wide located in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is approximately 645km (400mi) north of the Equator and is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. There are a number of islands around Sri Lanka with the most prominent islets located to the west of the Jaffna Peninsula. As of 2011, the population of Sri Lanka was 20,869,000.
The geography of Sri Lanka can roughly be divided into three zones based on elevation: the central highlands, the plains and the coastal belt.
The central highlands are considered to be the “heart of the country”. The highest mountains in Sri Lanka are found here with Pidurutalagala in the south-central region being the highest at 2,524m (8,281ft). The core of the highlands is a high plateau that runs north to south. To the north is the Knuckles Massif, which is composed of steep escarpments, deep gorges and peaks that rise more than 1,800m (5,905ft).
The plains of Sri Lanka are made up of several plains between 30-200m (98-656ft) above sea level. The plains meet the central highlands in the southeast where the mountain ranges appear abruptly like a large wall. To the east and north, the plains are flat.
The coastal belt surrounds this island and is approximately 30m (98ft) above sea level. Much of the coast of Sri Lanka is made up of beautiful sandy beaches.