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Sri Lanka[Country flag of Sri Lanka]
[Country map of Sri Lanka]

Introduction Sri Lanka
Background:
The Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C., probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced beginning 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 seized power in the north and established a Tamil kingdom. Occupied 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 an ethnic conflict that continues to fester. After two decades of fighting, the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam formalized a cease-fire in February 2002, with Norway brokering peace negotiations.
Geography Sri Lanka
Location:
Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India
Geographic coordinates:
7 00 N, 81 00 E
Map references:
Asia
Area:
total: 65,610 sq km
land: 64,740 sq km
water: 870 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than West Virginia
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
1,340 km
Maritime claims:
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
Climate:
tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
Terrain:
mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m
Natural resources:
limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 13.86%
permanent crops: 15.7%
other: 70.44% (2001)
Irrigated land:
6,510 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
occasional cyclones and tornadoes
Environment - current issues:
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
Environment - international agreements:
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
Geography - note:
strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes
People Sri Lanka
Population:
20,064,776
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 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 24.5% (male 2,508,384/female 2,397,986)
15-64 years: 68.4% (male 6,658,765/female 7,059,468)
65 years and over: 7.2% (male 670,813/female 769,360) (2005 est.)
Median age:
total: 29.44 years
male: 28.38 years
female: 30.51 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.79% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
15.63 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
6.49 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 14.35 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 15.57 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.17 years
male: 70.6 years
female: 75.86 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.85 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
3,500 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality:
noun: Sri Lankan(s)
adjective: Sri Lankan
Ethnic groups:
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)
Religions:
Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)
Languages:
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
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.3%
male: 94.8%
female: 90% (2003 est.)
Government Sri Lanka
Country name:
conventional long form: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
conventional short form: Sri Lanka
former: Serendib, Ceylon
Government type:
republic
Capital:
Colombo; note - Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital
Administrative divisions:
8 provinces; Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western; note - North Eastern province may have been divided in two - Northern and Eastern
Independence:
4 February 1948 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 4 February (1948)
Constitution:
adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978; new constitution proposed in 2002
Legal system:
a highly complex mixture of English common law, Roman-Dutch, Muslim, Sinhalese, and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (since 12 November 1994); note - Mahinda RAJAPAKSE (since 6 April 2004) is the prime minister; the president is considered both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (since 12 November 1994); note - Mahinda RAJAPAKSE is the prime minister (since 6 April 2004); the president is considered both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 21 December 1999 (next to be held NA December 2005)
election results: Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA reelected president; percent of vote - Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA 51%, Ranil WICKREMASINGHE 42%, other 7%
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament (225 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of a modified proportional representation system by district to serve six-year terms)
elections: last held 2 April 2004 (next to be held by 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party or electoral alliance - SLFP and JVP 45.6%, UNP 37.83%, TNA 6.84%, JHU 5.97%, SLMC 2.02%, UPF 0.54%, EPDP 0.27%, others 0.93%; seats by party or electoral alliance - SLFP and JVP 105, UNP 82, TNA 22, JHU 9, SLMC 5, UPF 1, EPDP 1
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; Court of Appeals; judges for both courts are appointed by the president
Political parties and leaders:
All Ceylon Tamil Congress or ACTC [KUMARGURUPARAM]; Ceylon Workers Congress or CWC [Arumugam THONDAMAN]; Communist Party or CP [D. GUNASEKERA]; Democratic United National (Lalith) Front or DUNLF [Shrimani ATULATHMUDALI]; Eelam People's Democratic Party or EPDP [Douglas DEVANANDA]; Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front or EPRLF [Suresh PREMACHANDRAN]; Janatha Vimukthi Perumuna or JVP [Tilvan SILVA]; National Heritage Party or JHU [Tilak KARUNARATNE]; National Unity Alliance or NUA [Ferial ASHRAFF]; People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam or PLOTE [leader NA]; Sihala Urumaya or SU [leader NA]; Sri Lanka Freedom Party or SLFP [Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA]; Sri Lanka Muslim Congress or SLMC [Rauff HAKEEM]; Sri Lanka Progressive Front or SLPF [P. Nelson PERERA]; Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization or TELO [SABARATNAM]; 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]; several ethnic Tamil and Muslim parties, represented in either Parliament or provincial councils
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Buddhist clergy; labor unions; Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE [Velupillai PRABHAKARAN](insurgent group fighting for a separate state); radical chauvinist Sinhalese groups such as the National Movement Against Terrorism; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups
International organization participation:
AsDB, C, CP, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NAM, OAS (observer), ONUB, OPCW, PCA, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Bernard GOONETILLEKE
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
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jeffrey J. LUNSTEAD
embassy: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3
mailing address: P. O. Box 106, Colombo
telephone: [94] (11) 244-8007
FAX: [94] (11) 243-7345
Flag description:
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
Economy - overview:
In 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for market-oriented policies and export-oriented trade. Sri Lanka's most dynamic sectors now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. In 2003, plantation crops made up only 15% of exports (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for 63%. GDP grew at an average annual rate of 5.5% in the early 1990s until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-2000 with average growth of 5.3%, but 2001 saw the first contraction in the country's history, -1.4%, due to a combination of power shortages, severe budgetary problems, the global slowdown, and continuing civil strife. Growth recovered to 4.0% in 2002 and to 5.2% in both 2003 and 2004. About 800,000 Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% in the Middle East. They send home about $1 billion a year. The struggle by the Tamil Tigers of the north and east for a largely independent homeland continues to cast a shadow over the economy. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$80.58 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5.2% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $4,000 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 19.1%
industry: 26.2%
services: 54.7% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
7.26 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 38%, industry 17%, services 45% (1998 est.)
Unemployment rate:
7.8% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
22% (1997 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.5%
highest 10%: 28% (1995)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
34.4 (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.8% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
22.4% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $3.34 billion
expenditures: $4.686 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)
Public debt:
104.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef
Industries:
rubber processing, tea, coconuts, and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, and banking; clothing, cement, petroleum refining, textiles, tobacco
Industrial production growth rate:
7.1% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:
6.697 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 51.7%
hydro: 48.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
6.228 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
75,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA
Oil - imports:
NA
Current account balance:
$-587.3 million (2004 est.)
Exports:
$5.306 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
textiles and apparel; tea and spices; diamonds, emeralds, rubies; coconut products; rubber manufactures, fish
Exports - partners:
US 32.4%, UK 13.5%, India 6.8%, Germany 4.8% (2004)
Imports:
$7.265 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
textile fabrics, mineral products, petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery and transportation equipment
Imports - partners:
India 18%, Singapore 8.7%, Hong Kong 7.7%, China 5.7%, Iran 5.2%, Japan 5.1%, Malaysia 4.1% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$2.475 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$10.85 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$577 million (1998)
Currency (code):
Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)
Currency code:
LKR
Exchange rates:
Sri Lankan rupees per US dollar - 101.194 (2004), 96.521 (2003), 95.662 (2002), 89.383 (2001), 77.005 (2000)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Sri Lanka
Telephones - main lines in use:
881,400 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
931,600 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: very inadequate domestic service, particularly in rural areas; likely improvement with privatization of national telephone company and encouragement to private investment; good international service (1999)
domestic: national trunk network consists mostly of digital microwave radio relay; fiber-optic links now in use in Colombo area and two fixed wireless local loops have been installed; competition is strong in mobile cellular systems; telephone density remains low at 2.6 main lines per 100 persons (1999)
international: country code - 94; submarine cables to Indonesia and Djibouti; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (1999)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 26, FM 45, shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios:
3.85 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
21 (1997)
Televisions:
1.53 million (1997)
Internet country code:
.lk
Internet hosts:
1,882 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
5 (2000)
Internet users:
200,000 (2002)
Transportation Sri Lanka
Railways:
total: 1,449 km
broad gauge: 1,449 km 1.676-m gauge (2004)
Highways:
total: 11,650 km
paved: 11,068 km
unpaved: 582 km (2002)
Waterways:
160 km (primarily on rivers in southwest) (2004)
Ports and harbors:
Colombo, Galle
Merchant marine:
total: 23 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 120,924 GRT/173,604 DWT
by type: cargo 18, container 2, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 2
foreign-owned: 10 (Germany 10)
registered in other countries: 1 (2005)
Airports:
14 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 13
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2004 est.)
Military Sri Lanka
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force, Police Force
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 4,933,217 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 3,789,627 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males: 174,049 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$514.8 million (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.6% (2004)
Transnational Issues Sri Lanka
Disputes - international:
none
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
IDPs: 362,000 (both Tamils and non-Tamils displaced due to Tamil conflict); 555,000 (resulting from 26 December 2004 tsunami) (2004)

This page was last updated on 1 November, 2005


 

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