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Introduction
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational
Issues
  Introduction Back To Top

Background:
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 January 2008, the government officially withdrew from the ceasefire, and has begun engaging the LTTE in the northern portion of the country.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 12.61 cu km/yr (2%/2%/95%)
per capita: 608 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
50 cu km (1999)

Land boundaries:
0 km

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

Climate:
tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)

Map references:
Asia

Geographic coordinates:
7 00 N, 81 00 E

Natural resources:
limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m

Terrain:
mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior

Geography - note:
strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes

Area:
total: 65,610 sq km
land: 64,740 sq km
water: 870 sq km

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

Coastline:
1,340 km

Area - comparative:
slightly larger than West Virginia

Irrigated land:
7,430 sq km (2003)

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

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

Natural hazards:
occasional cyclones and tornadoes

Land use:
arable land: 13.96%
permanent crops: 15.24%
other: 70.8% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
2.02 children born/woman (2008 est.)

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: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
3,500 (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.97 years
male: 72.95 years
female: 77.08 years (2008 est.)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2008)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.7%
male: 92.3%
female: 89.1% (2001 census)

Net migration rate:
-1.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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)

Median age:
total: 30.4 years
male: 29.5 years
female: 31.4 years (2008 est.)

Population:
21,128,772
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 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
NA

Population growth rate:
0.943% (2008 est.)

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

Death rate:
6.07 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 19.01 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 20.76 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 200 (2003 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24.1% (male 2,596,463/female 2,495,136)
15-64 years: 68% (male 7,019,446/female 7,340,809)
65 years and over: 7.9% (male 783,823/female 893,096) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
16.63 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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

Nationality:
noun: Sri Lankan(s)
adjective: Sri Lankan

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
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

National holiday:
Independence Day, 4 February (1948)

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal

Government type:
republic

Political pressure groups and leaders:
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

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jaliya 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

International organization participation:
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

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 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 formal UPFA 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

Legal system:
a highly complex mixture of English common law, Roman-Dutch, Kandyan, and Jaffna Tamil law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

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

Independence:
4 February 1948 (from UK)

Country name (Goverment):
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

Political parties and leaders:
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]

Capital:
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)

Constitution:
adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978; amended 20 December 2000

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Mahinda 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 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%

Administrative divisions:
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

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

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
US 25.5%, UK 13.2%, India 6.7%, Germany 5.7%, Italy 5.1% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
6.884 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
15% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$1.981 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$12.99 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
5.8% (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
291.9 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$4,400 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
25.3% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$14.82 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$93.32 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$42.16 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
50 (FY03/04)

Exchange rates:
Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar - 108.14 (2008 est.), 110.78 (2007), 103.99 (2006), 100.498 (2005), 101.194 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
5.4% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$2.465 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
7.511 million (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
India 23.1%, Singapore 9.9%, China 8.2%, Iran 7.5%, Hong Kong 6.4% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
21.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11.7%
industry: 29.9%
services: 58.4% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
87,090 bbl/day (2005)

Exports:
$9.132 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)

Economy - overview:
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 growth to about 7% per year in 2006-08, but high government spending and a loose monetary policy also pushed inflation past 20% 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 2006, plantation crops made up only about 15% of exports (compared with more than 90% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for more than 60%. About 800,000 Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% of them in the Middle East. They send home more than $1 billion a year. The struggle by the Tamil Tigers of the north and east for an independent homeland continues to cast a shadow over the economy.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
textile fabrics, mineral products, petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery and transportation equipment

Industries:
processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
22% (2002 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
17.08% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$10.46 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
8.317 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Imports:
$12.57 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 34.3%
industry: 25.3%
services: 40.4% (30 June 2006 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$3.675 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
86,030 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$NA

Public debt:
75.5% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$NA

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$7.553 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:
LKR

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.1%
highest 10%: 39.7% (FY03/04)

Exports - commodities:
textiles and apparel, tea and spices; diamonds, emeralds, rubies; coconut products, rubber manufactures, fish

Economic aid - recipient:
$1.189 billion (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 51.7%
hydro: 48.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $6.646 billion
expenditures: $9.369 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2005 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
771,700 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
2.742 million (2007)

Televisions:
1.53 million (1997)

Internet country code:
.lk

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 15, FM 52, shortwave 4 (2007)

Radios:
3.85 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
7.983 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
14 (2006)

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; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is about 50 per 100 persons
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)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
5 (2000)

Internet hosts:
4,940 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

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

Railways:
total: 1,449 km
broad gauge: 1,449 km 1.676-m gauge (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Colombo

Merchant marine:
total: 26
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)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 14
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2007)

Roadways:
total: 97,286 km
paved: 78,802 km
unpaved: 18,484 km (2003)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 3 (2007)

Airports:
18 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service (2007)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 5,458,720
females age 16-49: 5,594,006 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 4,477,437
females age 16-49: 4,683,716 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 174,065
female: 168,593 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
2.6% of GDP (2006)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
none

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)

Trafficking in persons:
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)

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