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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 formally 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... See More



 Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India

Geographic Coordinates:

 7 00 N, 81 00 E


 Total: 65,610 sq km
Land: 64,630 sq km
Water: 980 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 Slightly larger than West Virginia

Land Boundaries:

 0 km


 1,340 km (Rank: 72)

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


 Tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)


 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: 13.96%
Permanent crops: 15.24%
Other: 70.8% (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 5,700 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 50 cu km (1999)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 12.61 cu km/yr (2%/2%/95%)
Per capita: 608 cu m/yr (2000)

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

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 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)


 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


 Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)


 21,283,913 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 24.9% (male 2,705,953/female 2,599,717)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 6,993,668/female 7,313,440)
65 years and over: 7.9% (male 720,219/female 950,916) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 30.8 years
Male: 29.7 years
Female: 31.8 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 0.934% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 17.42 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 5.92 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 -2.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 14% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 1.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 COLOMBO (capital) 681,000 (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 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: 0.86 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 39 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 9.7 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 10.68 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 8.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 75.73 years
Male: 72.21 years
Female: 79.38 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 2.2 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 4% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 0.492 physicians/1,000 population (2006)

Hospital Bed Density:

 3.1 beds/1,000 population (2004)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 98% of population
Rural: 88% of population
Total: 90% of population
Urban: 2% of population
Rural: 12% of population
Total: 10% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 88% of population
Rural: 92% of population
Total: 91% of population
Urban: 12% of population
Rural: 8% of population
Total: 9% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 Less than 0.1% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 2,800 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 Fewer than 200 (2009 est.)

Major Infectious Diseases:

 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)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 21.1% (2007)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 90.7%
Male: 92.3%
Female: 89.1% (2001 census)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 13 years
Male: 12 years
Female: 13 years (2004)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 21.3%
Male: 17.1%
Female: 27.9% (2009)

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Country Name:

 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

Government Type:



 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)

Administrative Divisions:

 9 provinces; Central, Eastern, North Central, Northern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western


 4 February 1948 (from the UK)

National Holiday:

 Independence Day, 4 February (1948)


 Adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978; amended 20 December 2001

Legal System:

 Mixed legal system of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, and Jaffna Tamil customary law

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA (since 19 November 2005); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government; Dissanayake Mudiyanselage JAYARATNE holds the largely ceremonial title of prime minister (since 21 April 2010)

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 (two-term limit); election last held on 26 January 2010 (next to be held in 2016)

Election results: Mahinda RAJAPAKSA reelected president for second term; percent of vote - Mahinda RAJAPAKSA 57.88%, Sarath FONSEKA 40.15%, other 1.97%

Legislative Branch:

 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 8 April 2010 with a repoll in two electorates held on 20 April 2010 (next to be held by April 2016)

Election results: percent of vote by alliance or party - United People's Freedom Alliance 60.93%, United National Party 29.34%, Democratic National Alliance 5.49%, Tamil National Alliance 2.9%, other 1.94%; seats by alliance or party - United People's Freedom Alliance 144, United National Party 60, Tamil National Alliance 14, Democratic National Alliance 7

Judicial Branch:

 Supreme Court; Court of Appeals; judges for both courts are appointed by the president

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Coalitions and leaders: Democratic National Alliance led by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP [Somawansa AMARASINGHE]; Tamil National Alliance led by Illandai Tamil Arasu Kachchi [R. SAMPANTHAN]; United National Front led by United National Party [Ranil WICKREMESINGHE]; United People's Freedom Alliance led by Sri Lanka Freedom Party [Mahinda RAJAPAKSA]

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE [P. SIVAPARAN, Chief of International Secretariat; V. RUDRAKUMARAN, legal advisor]; note - this insurgent group suffered military defeat in May 2009; some cadres remain scattered throughout country;
Other: Buddhist clergy; labor unions; radical chauvinist Sinhalese groups such as the National Movement Against Terrorism; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 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

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Patricia A. BUTENIS
Embassy: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3
Mailing address: P. O. Box 106, Colombo
Telephone: [94] (11) 249-8500
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 larger panel depicts a yellow lion holding a sword on a dark red rectangular field that also displays a yellow bo leaf in each corner; the yellow field appears as a border around the entire flag and extends between the two panels; the lion represents Sinhalese ethnicity, the strength of the nation, and bravery; the sword demonstrates the sovereignty of the nation; the four bo leaves - symbolizing Buddhism and its influence on the country - stand for the four virtues of kindness, friendliness, happiness, and equanimity; orange signifies Sri Lankan Tamils, green the Sri Lankan Moors; dark red represents the European Burghers, but also refers to the rich colonial background of the country; yellow denotes other ethnic groups; also referred to as the Lion Flag

National Symbols:


National Anthem:

 Name: "Sri Lanka Matha" (Mother Sri Lanka)
Lyrics/music: Ananda SAMARKONE

Note: adopted 1951

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Economy - Overview:

 Sri Lanka is engaging in large-scale reconstruction and development projects following the end of the 26-year conflict with the LTTE, including increasing electricity access and rebuilding its road and rail network. Additionally, Sri Lanka seeks to reduce poverty by using a combination of state directed policies and private investment promotion to spur growth in disadvantaged areas, develop small and medium enterprises, and promote increased agriculture. High levels of government funding may be difficult, as the government already is faced with high debt interest payments, a bloated civil service, and historically high budget deficits. The 2008-09 global financial crisis and recession exposed Sri Lanka's economic vulnerabilities and nearly caused a balance of payments crisis, which was alleviated by a $2.6 billion IMF standby agreement in July 2009. The end of the civil war and the IMF loan, however, have largely restored investors' confidence, reflected in part by the Sri Lankan stock market's recognition as one of the best performing markets in the world. Sri Lankan growth rates averaged nearly 5% in during the war, but increased government spending on development and fighting the LTTE in the final years spurred GDP growth to around 6-7% per year in 2006-08. After experiencing 3.5% growth in 2009, Sri Lanka's economy is poised to achieve high growth rates in the postwar period.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $106.5 billion (2010 est.)
$97.6 billion (2009 est.)
$94.02 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $49.68 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 9.1% (2010 est.)
3.8% (2009 est.)
6% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $5,000 (2010 est.)
$4,600 (2009 est.)
$4,400 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 12.8%
Industry: 29.4%
Services: 57.8% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 8.074 million (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 32.7%
Industry: 26.3%
Services: 41% (December 2008 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 5.8% (2010 est.)
5.7% (2009 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 23% (2008 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 3.1%
Highest 10%: 32.9% (2007)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 40.3 (2007)
46 (1995)

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons:

 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)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 25.9% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $7.386 billion
Expenditures: $11.32 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 14.9% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -7.9% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 81.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
86.1% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 5.9% (2010 est.)
3.4% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 5.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
15% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 10.22% (31 December 2010 est.)
15.67% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $2.462 billion (31 December 2008)
$2.465 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $11.01 billion (31 December 2008)
$10.46 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $3.579 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$2.871 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $19.72 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$16.41 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $20.44 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$16.72 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $19.92 billion (31 December 2010)
$8.133 billion (31 December 2009)
$4.326 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:

 Rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, vegetables, fruit, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish


 Processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; tourism, shipping; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining, information technology services, construction

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 8.4% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 8.893 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 51.7%
Hydro: 48.3%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 7.885 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 637 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 92,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 84,730 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$1.691 billion (2010 est.)
-$291 million (2009 est.)


 $8.307 billion (2010 est.)
$7.085 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Textiles and apparel, tea and spices; rubber manufactures; precious stones; coconut products, fish

Exports - Partners:

 US 19.6%, UK 10.4%, Italy 5.1%, India 4.9%, Germany 4.9%, Belgium 4.1% (2010)


 $12.16 billion (2010 est.)
$9.186 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Petroleum, textiles, machinery and transportation equipment, building materials, mineral products, foodstuffs

Imports - Partners:

 India 19.4%, China 15.1%, Singapore 9.1%, Iran 7%, Japan 4.9% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $7.197 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$5.358 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $19.78 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$17.21 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Sri Lanka Rupee to Any Currency

Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar -
113.36 (2010)
114.95 (2009)
108.33 (2008)
110.78 (2007)
103.99 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 3.579 million (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 17.359 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 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)

Broadcast Media:

 Government operates 2 television channels and a radio network; multi-channel satellite and cable TV subscription services are obtainable; 8 private TV stations and about a dozen private radio stations in operation (2008)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 15, FM 52, shortwave 4 (2007)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 12 (2009)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 8,865 (2010)

Internet Users:

 1.777 million (2009)

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 18 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 14
Over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
Under 914 m: 3 (2010)


 Total: 1,449 km
Broad gauge: 1,449 km 1.676-m gauge (2010)


 Total: 91,907 km (2008)


 160 km (primarily on rivers in southwest) (2008)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 22
By type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 14, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 3
Foreign-owned: 5 (Germany 5) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:


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Military Branches:

 Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force (2010)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 18 years of age for voluntary military service; 5-year service obligation (2010)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 5,342,147
Females age 16-49: 5,466,409 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 4,177,432
Females age 16-49: 4,574,833 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 167,026
Female: 162,587 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 2.6% of GDP (2006)

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Last Updated: December 2011

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