Relief map of Ceylon

Ceylon is a large island (25,000 square miles or 65,000 km2) located off the southeast coast of India. The island has a wet tropical climate and was heavily forested except where the land was cleared for plantations, mostly of tea. The driest parts of the island are the northwest and southeast, while the east and northeast receive some moisture during the winter monsoon and the southwest receives considerable moisture during the summer monsoon. The channel between the island and India, the Palk Strait, is blocked by limestone shoals, the remnants of a land bridge (Rama's Bridge) that may have been passable by foot as late as 1480. Most of the island is coastal plain, surrouding a core of granite mountains whose highest point at Mount Pidurutalagala reaches 8,281' (2,524m). Much of the shoreline was mangrove swamp.

The two main ports of Colombo and Trincomalee were poorly developed as military bases in 1941, and the islands was somewhat exposed, leading the British to develop a secret fleet anchorage at Addu Atoll.

The Japanese Navy would have liked to have captured Ceylon in 1942, and developed plans for a landing at Jaffna, but the Army demurred on providing the necessary divisions. However, the island was worked over during the Indian Ocean raid of early 1942.

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