South Asia :: Sri Lanka
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Sri Lanka
Location of Sri Lanka
 
Map of Sri Lanka
Introduction ::Sri Lanka
The first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C. probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced in about the mid-third century B.C., and a great civilization developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (kingdom from circa 200 B.C. to circa A.D. 1000) and Polonnaruwa (from about 1070 to 1200). In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty established a Tamil kingdom in northern Sri Lanka. The coastal areas of the island were controlled by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century. The island was ceded to the British in 1796, became a crown colony in 1802, and was united under British rule by 1815. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. Tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted into war in 1983. Tens of thousands have died in the ethnic conflict that continues to fester. After two decades of fighting, the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formalized a cease-fire in February 2002 with Norway brokering peace negotiations. Violence between the LTTE and government forces intensified in 2006 and the government regained control of the Eastern Province in 2007. In May 2009, the government announced that its military had finally defeated the remnants of the LTTE and that its leader, Velupillai PRABHAKARAN, had been killed.
Geography ::Sri Lanka
Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India
7 00 N, 81 00 E
total: 65,610 sq km
country comparison to the world: 121
land: 64,630 sq km
water: 980 sq km
slightly larger than West Virginia
0 km
1,340 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m
limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower
arable land: 13.96%
permanent crops: 15.24%
other: 70.8% (2005)
7,430 sq km (2003)
50 cu km (1999)
total: 12.61 cu km/yr (2%/2%/95%)
per capita: 608 cu m/yr (2000)
occasional cyclones and tornadoes
deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching and urbanization; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff; waste disposal; air pollution in Colombo
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes
People ::Sri Lanka
21,324,791
country comparison to the world: 53
note: since the outbreak of hostilities between the government and armed Tamil separatists in the mid-1980s, several hundred thousand Tamil civilians have fled the island and more than 200,000 Tamils have sought refuge in the West (July 2009 est.)
0-14 years: 23.9% (male 2,594,815/female 2,493,002)
15-64 years: 68% (male 7,089,307/female 7,418,123)
65 years and over: 8.1% (male 803,172/female 926,372) (2009 est.)
total: 30.9 years
male: 29.9 years
female: 31.8 years (2009 est.)
0.904% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
16.26 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
6.13 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
-1.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
urban population: 15% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 18.57 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 111
male: 20.33 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 75.14 years
country comparison to the world: 84
male: 73.08 years
female: 77.28 years (2009 est.)
1.99 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
3,800 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and chikungunya
water contact disease: leptospirosis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
noun: Sri Lankan(s)
adjective: Sri Lankan
Sinhalese 73.8%, Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%, Indian Tamil 4.6%, Sri Lankan Tamil 3.9%, other 0.5%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)
Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)
Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%, other 8%
note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.7%
male: 92.3%
female: 89.1% (2001 census)
NA
Government ::Sri Lanka
conventional long form: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
conventional short form: Sri Lanka
local long form: Shri Lamka Prajatantrika Samajaya di Janarajaya/Ilankai Jananayaka Choshalichak Kutiyarachu
local short form: Shri Lamka/Ilankai
former: Serendib, Ceylon
republic
name: Colombo
geographic coordinates: 6 56 N, 79 51 E
time difference: UTC+5.5 (10.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (legislative capital)
8 provinces; Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western
note: in October 2006, a Sri Lankan Supreme Court ruling voided a presidential directive merging the North and Eastern Provinces; many have defended the merger as a prerequisite for a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict; a parliamentary decision on the issue is pending
4 February 1948 (from the UK)
Independence Day, 4 February (1948)
adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978; amended 20 December 2000
a highly complex mixture of English common law, Roman-Dutch, Kandyan, and Jaffna Tamil law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA (since 19 November 2005); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government; Ratnasiri WICKREMANAYAKE (since 21 November 2005) holds the largely ceremonial title of prime minister
head of government: President Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA (since 19 November 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 17 November 2005 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: Mahinda RAJAPAKSA elected president; percent of vote - Mahinda RAJAPAKSA 50.3%, Ranil WICKREMESINGHE 48.4%, other 1.3%
unicameral Parliament (225 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of an open-list, proportional representation system by electoral district to serve six-year terms)
elections: last held on 2 April 2004 (next to be held by 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party or electoral alliance - SLFP and JVP (no longer in United People's Freedom Alliance) 45.6%, UNP 37.8%, TNA 6.8%, JHU 6%, SLMC 2%, UPF 0.5%, EPDP 0.3%, other 1%; seats by party - UNP 68, SLFP 57, JVP 39, TNA 22, CWC 8, JHU 7, SLMC 6, SLMC dissidents 4, Communist Party 2, JHU dissidents 2, LSSP 2, MEP 2, NUA 2, UPF 2, EPDP 1, UNP dissident 1
Supreme Court; Court of Appeals; judges for both courts are appointed by the president
All Ceylon Tamil Congress or ACTC [G.PONNAMBALAM]; Ceylon Workers Congress or CWC [Arumugam THONDAMAN]; Communist Party or CP [D. GUNASEKERA]; Eelam People's Democratic Party or EPDP [Douglas DEVANANDA]; Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front or EPRLF [Suresh PREMACHANDRAN]; Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP [Somawansa AMARASINGHE]; Lanka Sama Samaja Party or LSSP [Tissa VITHARANA]; Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (People's United Front) or MEP [D. GUNAWARDENE]; National Heritage Party or JHU [Ellawala METHANANDA]; National Unity Alliance or NUA [Ferial ASHRAFF]; People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam or PLOTE [D. SIDHARTHAN]; Sri Lanka Freedom Party or SLFP [Mahinda RAJAPAKSA]; Sri Lanka Muslim Congress or SLMC [Rauff HAKEEM]; Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization or TELO [Selvam ADAIKALANATHAN]; Tamil National Alliance or TNA [R. SAMPANTHAN]; Tamil United Liberation Front or TULF [V. ANANDASANGAREE]; United National Party or UNP [Ranil WICKREMASINGHE]; Up-country People's Front or UPF [P. CHANDRASEKARAN]
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE [Velupillai PRABHAKARAN](insurgent group fighting for a separate state); Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) or Karuna Faction [Vinayagamurthi MURALITHARAN] (paramilitary breakaway from LTTE and fighting LTTE)
other: Buddhist clergy; labor unions; radical chauvinist Sinhalese groups such as the National Movement Against Terrorism; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups
ADB, BIMSTEC, C, CP, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NAM, OAS (observer), OPCW, PCA, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIS, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
chief of mission: Ambassador Jaliya Chitran WICKRAMASURIYA
chancery: 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-4025 through 4028
FAX: [1] (202) 232-7181
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
consulate(s): New York
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert O. BLAKE, Jr.
embassy: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3
mailing address: P. O. Box 106, Colombo
telephone: [94] (11) 249-8500
FAX: [94] (11) 243-7345
yellow with two panels; the smaller hoist-side panel has two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and orange; the other panel is a large dark red rectangle with a yellow lion holding a sword, and there is a yellow bo leaf in each corner; the yellow field appears as a border around the entire flag and extends between the two panels
Economy ::Sri Lanka
In 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for more market-oriented policies, export-oriented trade, and encouragement of foreign investment. Recent changes in government, however, have brought some policy reversals. Currently, the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party has a more statist economic approach, which seeks to reduce poverty by steering investment to disadvantaged areas, developing small and medium enterprises, promoting agriculture, and expanding the already enormous civil service. The government has halted privatizations. Although suffering a brutal civil war that began in 1983, Sri Lanka saw GDP growth average 4.5% in the last 10 years with the exception of a recession in 2001. In late December 2004, a major tsunami took about 31,000 lives, left more than 6,300 missing and 443,000 displaced, and destroyed an estimated $1.5 billion worth of property. Government spending on development and fighting the LTTE drove GDP growth to about 7% per year in 2006-07 before the global recession slow growth in 2008, but high government spending and high oil and commodity prices also raised inflation to around 15% in 2008. Sri Lanka's most dynamic sectors now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, port construction, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. In 2008, plantation crops made up only about 20% of exports (compared with more than 90% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for more than 40%. About 1.5 million Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% of them in the Middle East. They send home more than $2.5 billion a year. The 25-year civil conflict between LTTE and the government of Sri Lanka has been a serious impediment to economic activities. By mid February 2009, the LTTE remained in control of small and shrinking area in the North. The conflict continues to cast a shadow over the economy.
$91.87 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
$86.67 billion (2007 est.)
$81.16 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$39.6 billion (2008 est.)
6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
6.8% (2007 est.)
7.7% (2006 est.)
$4,300 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
$4,100 (2007 est.)
$3,900 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 13.4%
industry: 29.4%
services: 57.3% (2008 est.)
7.569 million
country comparison to the world: 59
note: excludes northern and eastern provinces (2008 est.)
agriculture: 34.7%
industry: 26.1%
services: 39.2% (30 September 2008 est.)
5.2% (30 September 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
6% (2007 est.)
22% (2002 est.)
lowest 10%: 1.1%
highest 10%: 39.7% (2004)
49 (2004)
country comparison to the world: 28
34.4 (1995)
24.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
revenues: $7.8 billion
expenditures: $11 billion (2009 est.)
76.7% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
104.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
22.6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209
15.8% (2007 est.)
NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 13
15% (31 December 2007)
18.5% (31 December 2008)
$2.55 billion (30 September 2008)
country comparison to the world: 88
$2.465 billion (31 December 2007)
$9.01 billion (30 September 2008)
country comparison to the world: 62
$10.46 billion (31 December 2007)
$15.92 billion (30 September 2008)
country comparison to the world: 77
$14.82 billion (31 December 2007)
$4.326 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 76
$7.553 billion (31 December 2007)
$7.769 billion (31 December 2006)
rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish
processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining, information technology services
5.9% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
9.507 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
7.946 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
0 kWh (2008 est.)
0 kWh (2008 est.)
0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200
89,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
968.4 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
87,690 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200
0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 194
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 196
$-3.052 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
$-1.464 billion (2007 est.)
$7.899 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
$7.741 billion (2007 est.)
textiles and apparel, tea and spices; diamonds, emeralds, rubies; coconut products, rubber manufactures, fish
US 21.7%, UK 11.9%, India 6.8%, Germany 5.1%, Belgium 4.8%, Italy 4.7% (2008)
$12.26 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
$10.17 billion (2007 est.)
textile fabrics, mineral products, petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery and transportation equipment
India 21.2%, China 11.2%, Iran 7.9%, Singapore 7.7% (2008)
$2.3 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
$3.644 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$13.59 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
$12.2 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$250.2 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
$NA
Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar - 108.33 (2008), 110.78 (2007), 103.99 (2006), 100.498 (2005), 101.194 (2004)
Communications ::Sri Lanka
3.446 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 44
11.082 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 56
general assessment: telephone services have improved significantly and are available in most parts of the country
domestic: national trunk network consists mostly of digital microwave radio relay; fiber-optic links now in use in Colombo area and fixed wireless local loops have been installed; competition is strong in mobile cellular systems and mobile cellular subscribership is increasing
international: country code - 94; the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cables provide connectivity to Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe, US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
AM 15, FM 52, shortwave 4 (2007)
14 (2006)
.lk
6,090 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 134
1.164 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 83
Transportation ::Sri Lanka
18 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 138
total: 14
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2009)
total: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 3 (2009)
total: 1,449 km
country comparison to the world: 82
broad gauge: 1,449 km 1.676-m gauge (2007)
total: 97,286 km
country comparison to the world: 44
paved: 78,802 km
unpaved: 18,484 km (2003)
160 km (primarily on rivers in southwest) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 101
total: 26
country comparison to the world: 89
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 18, chemical tanker 1, container 1, petroleum tanker 2
foreign-owned: 5 (Germany 5)
registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2008)
Colombo
Military ::Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force (2009)
18 years of age for voluntary military service; 5-year service obligation (2007)
males age 16-49: 5,458,720
females age 16-49: 5,594,006 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 4,498,667
females age 16-49: 4,693,895 (2009 est.)
male: 173,256
female: 167,645 (2009 est.)
2.6% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 63
Transnational Issues ::Sri Lanka
none
IDPs: 460,000 (both Tamils and non-Tamils displaced due to long-term civil war between the government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)) (2007)
current situation: Sri Lanka is a source and destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation; Sri Lankan men and women migrate willingly to the Persian Gulf, Middle East, and East Asia to work as construction workers, domestic servants, or garment factory workers, where some find themselves in situations of involuntary servitude when faced with restrictions on movement, withholding of passports, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and debt bondage; children are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation and, less frequently, for forced labor
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - for a second consecutive year, Sri Lanka is on the Tier 2 Watch List for failing to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of human trafficking, particularly in the area of law enforcement; the government failed to arrest, prosecute, or convict any person for trafficking offenses and continued to punish some victims of trafficking for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked; Sri Lanka has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)