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Fact Sheet

The first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century BCE from northern India. Buddhism was introduced by about the mid-third century BCE and a great civilization developed in the cities of Anuradhapura (kingdom from circa 200 BCE to circa CE 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.

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

Coastline:1,340 km

Maritime claims: 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

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

Irrigated land: 7,430 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources: 50 cu km (1999)

Natural hazards: Occasional cyclones and tornadoes

Longest river: Mahaweli Ganga 335km

Highest waterfall: Bambarakanda 241m

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

Geography: strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes

Population: 21,128,773

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.)

Population growth rate: 19, 043m (Growth rate 1.4% 2008 est.)

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

Death rate: 6.07 deaths/1,000 population (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

Infant mortality rate: total: 19.01 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 74.97 years

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

Nationality: Sri Lankan(s)

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 and Tamil are official and national languages. Sinhala 74%, Tamil 18%, other 8%

Note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population

Literacy: Age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 90.7%

Country name: Conventional long form: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Government type: Republic

Capital: Colombo (commercial hub) Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (legislative capital)

Geographic coordinates: 6 56 N, 79 51 E

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces; Central, North, East, North Western, North Central, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western

Independence: 4 February 1948 (from the British)

National holiday: Independence Day, 4 February (1948)

Constitution: Adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978

Head 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

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)

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 in 2010

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

Sri Lanka 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: 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 and reconstruction drove growth to more than 7% in 2006 but reduced agriculture output probably slowed growth to about 6 percent in 2007. Government spending and loose monetary policy drove inflation to nearly 16% in 2007. 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.

GDP: real growth rate: 6.2% (2008 1st Quarter est.)

GDP: per capita (PPP): $4,100 (2008 est.)

GDP: composition by sector: Agriculture: 16.5% Industry: 26.9%

Labour force: 47.8 % (2008 1st Q est.)

Labour force - by occupation: Agriculture: 34.3%


Services: 6.4 % (1st Q 2008.)

Unemployment rate: 5.1% (2008 est.)

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

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

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 22.6.7% (August 2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed): 28.9% of GDP (2007 est.)

Budget: revenues: $5.64 billion

Expenditures: $7.77 billion (2007 est.)

Agriculture - products: Rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish

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

Industrial production growth rate: 6.0% (1st Q 2008 est.)

Electricity - production: 8.411 billion kWh (2005)

Electricity - consumption: 7.072 billion kWh (2005)

Total Industrial Exports: 315, 380m (2008 Jan – June)

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

Exports - partners: US 27.7%, UK 11.3%, India 9.3%, Belgium 4.8%, Germany 4% (2006)

Imports: $10.61 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

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

Imports - partners: India 19.6%, China 10.5%, Singapore 8.8%, Iran 5.7%, Malaysia 5.1%, Hong Kong 4.2%, Japan 4.1% (2006)

Market value of publicly traded shares: $7.769 billion (2006)

Currency (code): Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)

Exchange rates: Sri Lankan rupees per US dollar - 110.78 (2007), 103.99 (2006), 100.498 (2005), 101.194 (2004), 96.521 (2003)

Fiscal year: Calendar year

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

Telephones - mobile cellular: 7.983 million (2007)

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)

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

Television broadcast stations: 14 (2006)

Internet country code: .lk

Internet hosts: 6,198 (2007)

Internet users: 700,000 (March 2008)

Mobile phone users: 9.1 million

Airports – One international airport (BIA) and 14 regional airports

Railways: total: 1,449 km

Roadways: total: 97,287 km

Waterways: 160 km (primarily on rivers in southwest) (2006)

Ports and terminals: Colombo

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

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.)

Disputes - international: None

For more information on statistics of Sri Lanka, contact :

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Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka – 0094 011 2675988

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