There are several views about the name “Rathnapura” derived.Some say the modern name is derived from the Portuguese name Rapadura for jaggery, the palm candy produced traditionally in this region, but the more common explanation in Sri Lanka is that it comes from the Sinhala "ratna" meaning gems and "pura" meaning city. Ratnapura is also spelled as Rathnapura.Rathnapura is situated in Rathnapura district of Sabaragamuwa Province.It is located some 101 km south east of capital Colombo.Rathnapura town which is the capital city of the district is belong to Rathnapura divisional Secretariat Division.
Rathnapura is the center of a long-established industry of precious stone mining. Apart from gem mining, the division is known for rice and fruit cultivations. Large plantations of tea and rubber are in the division. . There is a well-established tourism industry in Ratnapura. Adam's Peak ,Sabaragamu Maha Saman Dewalaya,Ehelepola Walawwa,Katugas Ella are especially popular among tourists.
The population of the division is 105561 in 2012, and this consisted of Buddhist, Hindus, Christians and Muslims. Ratnapura provincial hospital being the largest hospital in the Sabaragamuwa province has been established in Rathnapura.
The people of the town depends on the gem trade.Gem pits are common site in the surrounding area. Most of the large-scale gem businessmen of Sri Lanka operate from Ratnapura.Ratnapura features a tropical climate under the Köppen climate classification. This is located in the south-western part of Sri Lanka, the so-called wet zone. The town receives rainfall mainly from south-western monsoons from May to September.
During the remaining months of the year, there is also considerable precipitaion due to convective rain. The average annual precipitation is about 4,000 to 5,000 mm. The average temperature varies from 24 to 35 °C, and there are high humidity levels The city is above 21m from sea level.The flooding plain of River Kalu is in this division.The town experiences regular floods usually in the month of May. There is no large dam across the Kalu, so this leaves the city at the mercy of nature's forces every year.
There are many places of worship in and around the city. Buddhist places of worship are more in number, which is to be expected since Buddhists constitute the great majority in the area. Nevertheless, there are plenty of places of worship in the town related to other religions. The following are some important examples:
- The mountain Sri Pada -Adam's Peak(Buddhist/Hindu/Islam)
- Maha Saman Devala (Buddhist)
- St. Luke's Church(Church of England)
- Siva Temple (Hindu)
- Jumma Mosque (Islam)