Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island nation south of India in the Indian Ocean. Its diverse landscapes range from rainforest and arid plains to highlands and sandy beaches. It’s famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including the 5th-century citadel Sigiriya, with its palace and frescoes. The city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s ancient capital, has many ruins dating back more than 2,000 years.
Geologically, Sri Lanka is composed of gneiss, schist, granite, quartzite and crystalline limestone-an agglomerative, quartzite rich gemstone deposits, washed by streams and rivers from the central highlands in to lowland valleys. For more than 2000 years Sri Lanka has been a noted producer of rubies, sapphires, and semiprecious stones such as amethyst, alexandrite and topaz.
Sri Lanka’s natural harbours have made the island a magnet for mariners throughout its history, from the legendary Sindbad the Sailor to the Portuguese navigator Vasco de Gama and the others who followed in search of the untold wealth of the fabled Orient. Modern visitors are as likely to be drawn by some 1600km of sandy beaches, warm Indian Ocean waters and coral reefs.