The second largest national park in Sri Lanka, Yala is situated in the Southeast part of the island, 300 kilometres from Colombo. The park has 44 species of mammals and 215 species of birds. The park has one of the highest concentrations in the world and around 350 Asian elephants. Also present are sloth bears, golden palm civets, Sri Lankan krait and crocodiles. The coastline around the park is visited by leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles.
Yala National Park has a variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, fresh water and marine wetlands, and sandy beaches. One region of the park even has wild rice growing during the rainy season, when it floods.
Demon King Ravana established his kingdom here with Ravana Kotte, now submerged in the sea, as its boundary. Seafaring traders brought Indo-Aryan civilisation with them and a large number of tanks are the evidence of a rich hydraulic and agricultural civilisation dating back to 5th century BC. Situlpahuwa, which was the home for 12,000 arahants, is situated within the park area along with Magul Vihara, which built in 87 BC and Akasa Chaitiya, which constructed in 2nd century BC. Agriculture flourished in area in previous times.