[Country map of Sri Lanka]

Sri Lanka


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

Map references: Asia

total area: 65,610 sq km
land area: 64,740 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 1,340 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: none

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

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

Land use:
arable land: 16%
permanent crops: 17%
meadows and pastures: 7%
forest and woodland: 37%
other: 23%

Irrigated land: 5,600 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff
natural hazards: occasional cyclones and tornadoes
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Marine Life Conservation

Note: strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes


Population: 18,342,660 (July 1995 est.)
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; as of late 1992, nearly 115,000 were housed in refugee camps in south India, another 95,000 lived outside the Indian camps, and more than 200,000 Tamils have sought political asylum in the West

Age structure:
0-14 years: 29% (female 2,597,969; male 2,713,696)
15-64 years: 65% (female 6,042,228; male 5,902,343)
65 years and over: 6% (female 547,715; male 538,709) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.15% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 18.13 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 5.78 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 21.3 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.14 years
male: 69.58 years
female: 74.82 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.08 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Sri Lankan(s)
adjective: Sri Lankan

Ethnic divisions: Sinhalese 74%, Tamil 18%, Moor 7%, Burgher, Malay, and Vedda 1%

Religions: Buddhist 69%, Hindu 15%, Christian 8%, Muslim 8%

Languages: Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%
note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken by about 10% of the population

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 88%
male: 93%
female: 84%

Labor force: 6.6 million
by occupation: agriculture 45.9%, mining and manufacturing 13.3%, trade and transport 12.4%, services and other 28.4% (1985 est.)


conventional long form: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
conventional short form: Sri Lanka
former: Ceylon

Digraph: CE

Type: republic

Capital: Colombo

Administrative divisions: 8 provinces; Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western

Independence: 4 February 1948 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence and National Day, 4 February (1948)

Constitution: adopted 16 August 1978

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 and head of government: President Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (since 12 November 1994); note - Sirimavo BANDARANAIKE is the Prime Minister; in Sri Lanka the president is considered to be both the chief of state and the head of the government, this is in contrast to the more common practice of dividing the roles between the president and the prime minister when both offices exist; election last held 9 November 1994 (next to be held NA November 2000); results - Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (People's Alliance) 62%, Srima DISSANAYAKE (United National Party) 37%, other 1%
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister

Legislative branch: unicameral
Parliament: elections last held 16 August 1994 (next to be held by August 2000); results - PA 49.0%, UNP 44.0%, SLMC 1.8%, TULF 1.7%, SLPF 1.1%, EPDP 0.3%, UPF 0.3%, PLOTE 0.1%, other 1.7%; seats - (225 total) PA 105, UNP 94, EPDP 9, SLMC 7, TULF 5, PLOTE 3, SLPF 1, UPF 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), C. G. Kumar PONNAMBALAM; Ceylon Workers Congress (CLDC), S. THONDAMAN; Communist Party, K. P. SILVA; Communist Party/Beijing (CP/B), N. SHANMUGATHASAN; Democratic People's Liberation Front (DPLF), leader NA; Democratic United National Front (DUNF), G. M. PREMACHANDRA; Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), Douglas DEVANANDA; Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRL), Suresh PREMACHANDRAN; Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students (EROS), Shankar RAJI; Lanka Socialist Party/Trotskyite (LSSP, or Lanka Sama Samaja Party), Colin R. DE SILVA; Liberal Party (LP), Chanaka AMARATUNGA; New Socialist Party (NSSP, or Nava Sama Samaja Party), Vasudeva NANAYAKKARA; People's Alliance (PA), Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA; People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Dharmalingam SIDARTHAN; People's United Front (MEP, or Mahajana Eksath Peramuna), Dinesh GUNAWARDENE; Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Sirimavo BANDARANAIKE; Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), M. H. M. ASHRAFF; Sri Lanka People's Party (SLMP, or Sri Lanka Mahajana Party), Ossie ABEYGUNASEKERA; Sri Lanka Progressive Front (SLPF), leader NA; Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), leader NA; Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), M. SIVASITHAMBARAM; United National Party (UNP), Ranil WICKREMANSINGHE; Upcountry People's Front (UPF), leader NA; several ethnic Tamil and Muslim parties, represented in either parliament or provincial councils
note: the United Socialist Alliance (USA), which was formed in 1987 and included the NSSP, LSSP, SLMP, CP/M, and CP/B, was defunct as of 1993, following the formation of the People's Alliance Party (PA)

Other political or pressure groups: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and other smaller Tamil separatist groups; other radical chauvinist Sinhalese groups; Buddhist clergy; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups; labor unions


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jayantha DHANAPALA
chancery: 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-4025 through 4028
FAX: [1] (202) 232-7181
consulate(s): New York

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Teresita C. SCHAFFER
embassy: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3
mailing address: P. O. Box 106, Colombo
telephone: [94] (1) 448007
FAX: [94] (1) 437345

Flag: 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 that goes around the entire flag and extends between the two panels


Overview: Industry - dominated by the fast-growing apparel industry - has surpassed agriculture as the main source of export earnings and accounts for over 16% of GDP. The economy has been plagued by high rates of unemployment since the late 1970s. Economic growth, which has been depressed by ethnic unrest, accelerated in 1991-94 as domestic conditions began to improve and conditions for foreign investment brightened. Currently, however, the new government's emphasis on populist measures has clouded Sri Lanka's economic prospects.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $57.6 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 5% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $3,190 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 12% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 13.6% (1993 est.)

revenues: $2.3 billion
expenditures: $3.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.5 billion (1993)

Exports: $2.9 billion (f.o.b., 1993)
commodities: garments and textiles, teas, diamonds, other gems, petroleum products, rubber products, other agricultural products, marine products, graphite
partners: US 35.2%, Germany, UK, Belgium-Luxembourg, Japan, Netherlands, France (1993)

Imports: $4 billion (c.i.f., 1993)
commodities: textiles and textile materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, petroleum, building materials
partners: Japan, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China (1993)

External debt: $7.2 billion (1993 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 9% (1993 est.); accounts for 16% of GDP

capacity: 1,410,000 kW
production: 3.2 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 168 kWh (1993)

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

Agriculture: accounts for one-fourth of GDP; field crops - rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseeds, roots, spices; cash crops - tea, rubber, coconuts; animal products - milk, eggs, hides, meat; not self-sufficient in rice production

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $1 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1980-89), $5.1 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $169 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $369 million

Currency: 1 Sri Lankan rupee (SLRe) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Sri Lankan rupees (SLRes) per US$1 - 50.115 (January 1995), 49.415 (1994), 48.322 (1993), 43.830 (1992), 41.372 (1991), 40.063 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 1,948 km
broad gauge: 1,948 km 1.868-m gauge (102 km double track) (1990)

total: 75,263 km
paved: mostly bituminous treated 27,637 km
unpaved: crushed stone, gravel 32,887 km; improved, unimproved earth 14,739 km

Inland waterways: 430 km; navigable by shallow-draft craft

Pipelines: crude oil and petroleum products 62 km (1987)

Ports: Colombo, Galle, Jaffna, Trincomalee

Merchant marine:
total: 26 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 289,115 GRT/453,609 DWT
ships by type: bulk 2, cargo 12, container 1, oil tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 8

total: 14
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 7
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 1


Telephone system: 114,000 telephones (1982); very inadequate domestic service, good international service
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: submarine cables extend to Indonesia and Djibouti; 2 INTELSAT (Indian Ocean) earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 12, FM 5, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 5
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Police Force

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 4,990,661; males fit for military service 3,888,372; males reach military age (18) annually 178,926 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $412 million, 3.6% of GDP (1994)