So where will we be? (Geography Lesson)

I’m going to try to use Google Maps here to put Kandy, Sri Lanka in geographic perspective.

Sri Lanka is a teardrop shaped island that lies just south of India:

In fact, you can tell from the satellite image that Sri Lanka is separated from India by a narrow, shallow strait, called the Palk Strait. The strait is so narrow that one can see India from Sri Lanka on a clear day. In area, Sri Lanka is the size of West Virginia. In population, Sri Lanka has about the same number of people as the state of New York, about 20 million. We will be living and working in Kandy, shown on the map to the northeast of Columbo. Let’s zoom in a bit and check out the terrain view.

Columbo is the capital and largest city in Sri Lanka (population about 600,000). It is also the location of the only international airport. As you can see from the terrain map, Kandy is in the highlands of Sri Lanka. Its population is about 110,000. Kandy is the cultural “capital” of the majority Sinhalese people. With the help of its geography, Kandy proudly fended off Portuguese, Dutch, and British attempts to capture the Kingdom of Kandy for quite some time. For us weather wimps, the elevation of Kandy (1640 feet or 500 meters) helps moderate the temperature. Being so close to the equator, the temperature does not change a lot through the year. Typical daily high temperature is 29 C (84 F) and daily low temperature is 18 C (64 F).

Let’s zoom in a bit more:

The university is located in Peradeniya, so it is probably more accurate to say that we will be living in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

I’ve found Google Maps and Yahoo Maps to have too few place names to follow the news. Microsoft’s maps show too many place names and choose them oddly. For example, it does not show Peradeniya, despite its relative importance in the region, but has about two dozen place names on a map comparable to the one above. There are some nice maps at that seem to have more thought put into them.




  1. Kris said,

    May 13, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    The map softwares, in some cases, post what viewers choose, creating eccentric patterns. The graphic integrity of a map depends on the knowledge and intentions of the cartographer, and the information can seem misleading if you don’t know what the purpose is. This is one of the reasons maps are so fascinating, pictures of minds as well as of the earth or smaller, more detailed places. Treasure? Home? Forts? Destinations? All can be hidden…

  2. Nadie Rupasinghe said,

    June 24, 2009 at 10:14 am

    wow sir. u really learnt a lot about Sri Lanka even before u come here. Think it’s a good thing to learn from u.

    • Tim said,

      June 24, 2009 at 10:26 am

      Thanks. My favorite part about being a professor is that I get paid to learn new things all my life.

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