Ratnapura is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of Sabaragamuwa Province, as well as the Ratnapura District, and is a traditional centre for the Sri Lankan gem trade. It is located on the Kalu Ganga in south-central Sri Lanka, some 101 km southeast of the country's capital, Colombo.
It is the centre of a long-established industry of precious stone mining including rubies, sapphires, and other gems. Apart from gem mining, the city is known for the production of rice and fruit. Large plantations of tea and rubber surround the city. Tea grown in this region is called low-country tea. There is a well-established tourism industry in Ratnapura. Nearby Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Udawalawe National Park, Kitulgala, and Adam's Peak are especially popular among tourists.
Why Ratnapura is known as ‘City of Gems’
Ratnapura, the ‘City of Gems’, is Sri Lanka’s treasure chest, an Aladdin’s Cave of jewels and wealth and the centre of its gemming industry. Gems are mined by ancient and traditional methods.Ratnapura is known as the gem capital of the South Asian country, which is a leading exporter of sapphires and other precious gems. On the Colombo-Ratnapura road many gem mining operations in paddy fields are done beside the road. A peculiarity of Sri Lanka is that a variety of different stones are often found in the same pit. The mines are worked in the dry season.
Gem Mining in Sri Lanka
Gem mining in Sri Lanka is primarily from alluvial secondary deposits found in gem-bearing river gravels (illam), in ancient flood plains and streams that are now covered with productive farm land and terraced rice paddies. To access the gem-bearing gravel, 5 to 50 foot deep mining pits are hand-dug by teams of several workers, pumping out any ground-water as it enters the hole from below. When the pit is dug to the correct depth, tunnels are dug horizontally in several directions to minimize surface degradation.
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