Sri Lanka facts on every entity in the world

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 Portuguese controlled the coastal areas of the island in the 16th century and 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 into war in 1983. 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, but the government regained control of the Eastern Province in 2007 and by May 2009, the remnants of the LTTE had been defeated. Since the end of the conflict, the government has enacted an ambitious program of economic development projects, many of which are financed by loans from the Government of China. In addition to efforts at reconstructing its economy, the government has resettled more than 95% of those civilians displaced during the final phase of the conflict and released the vast majority of former LTTE combatants captured by Government Security Forces. At the same time, there has been little progress on more contentious and politically difficult issues such as reaching a political settlement with Tamil elected representatives and holding accountable those alleged to have been involved in human rights violations and other abuses during the conflict.



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

Geographic coordinates

7.00° N, 81.00° E

Area 122/257

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

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


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m

Natural resources

limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 43.5%

arable land 20.7%; permanent crops 15.8%; permanent pasture 7%

forest: 29.4%

other: 27.1% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

5,700 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources

52.8 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 12.95 cu km/yr (6%/6%/87%)

per capita: 638.8 cu m/yr (2005)

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 and Society


noun: Sri Lankan(s)

adjective: Sri Lankan

Ethnic groups

Sinhalese 74.9%, Sri Lankan Tamil 11.2%, Sri Lankan Moors 9.2%, Indian Tamil 4.2%, other 0.5% (2012 est.)


Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%, other 8%

note: English, spoken competently by about 10% of the population, is commonly used in government and is referred to as the link language in the constitution


Buddhist (official) 70.2%, Hindu 12.6%, Muslim 9.7%, Roman Catholic 6.1%, other Christian 1.3%, other 0.05% (2012 est.)

Population 57/238

22,053,488 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 24.58% (male 2,764,848/female 2,655,218)

15-24 years: 14.77% (male 1,652,884/female 1,604,089)

25-54 years: 41.9% (male 4,523,146/female 4,718,156)

55-64 years: 9.72% (male 992,750/female 1,149,828)

65 years and over: 9.04% (male 847,805/female 1,144,764) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 51.2%

youth dependency ratio: 37.2%

elderly dependency ratio: 14.1%

potential support ratio: 7.1% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 32.1 years

male: 30.9 years

female: 33.3 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 131/233

0.84% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 124/224

15.85 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 159/225

6.11 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 154/222

-1.35 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 18.4% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 0.72% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (legislative capital) 128,000 (2014); COLOMBO (capital) 707,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.86 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth


note: median age at first birth among women 30-34 (2006/07 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 118/184

30 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 146/224

total: 8.8 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 9.75 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.82 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 84/224

total population: 76.56 years

male: 73.06 years

female: 80.19 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 106/224

2.1 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

68.4% (2006/07)

Health expenditures 177/191

3.2% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.68 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

3.6 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source


urban: 98.5% of population

rural: 95% of population

total: 95.6% of population


urban: 1.5% of population

rural: 5% of population

total: 4.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 88.1% of population

rural: 96.7% of population

total: 95.1% of population


urban: 11.9% of population

rural: 3.3% of population

total: 4.9% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.03% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

3,300 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

100 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 155/191

6.8% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 23/138

26.3% (2012)

Education expenditures 168/173

1.7% of GDP (2012)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years

male: 13 years

female: 14 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 69/134

total: 20.1%

male: 15%

female: 27.8% (2013 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

conventional short form: Sri Lanka

local long form: Shri Lanka Prajatantrika Samajavadi Janarajaya/Ilankai Jananayaka Choshalichak Kutiyarachu

local short form: Shri Lanka/Ilankai

former: Serendib, Ceylon

note: the name means "resplendent island" in Sanskrit

Government type



name: Colombo; note - Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital

geographic coordinates: 6.55° N, 79.50° E

time difference: UTC+5.5 (10.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

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)


several previous; latest adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978; amended many times, last in 2015 (2015)

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


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Sri Lanka

dual citizenship recognized: no, except in cases where the government rules it is to the benefit of Sri Lanka

residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Maithripala SIRISENA (since 9 January 2015); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government; Ranil WICKREMESINGHE (since 9 January 2015) holds the title of prime minister

head of government: President Maithripala SIRISENA (since 9 January 2015)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister

elections/appointments: president directly elected by preferential majority popular vote for a 6-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 8 January 2015 (next to be held by January 2021); note - the January 2015 election was held nearly 2 years ahead of schedule

election results: Maithripala SIRISENA elected president; percent of vote - Maithripala SIRISENA (Sri Lanka Freedom Party) 51.3%, Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA (Sri Lanka Freedom Party) 47.6%, other 1.1%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament (225 seats; 196 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote using a preferential method in which voters select 3 candidates in order of preference; remaining 29 seats allocated to other political parties and groups in proportion to share of national vote; members serve 6-year terms)

elections: last held on 17 August 2015 following President SIRISENA's dissolution of Parliament in late June in an effort to consolidate power and pass reformas (next to be held in 2021)

election results: percent of vote by alliance/party - EYJP 45.7%, UPFA 42.4%, JVP 4.9%, TNA 4.6%, SLMC 0.4%, EPDP 0.3% other 1.7%; seats by alliance/party EYJP 106, UPFA 95, TNA 16, JVP 6, SLMC 1, EPDP 1

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of the Republic (consists of the chief justice and 10 justices); note - the court has exclusive jurisdiction to review legislation

judge selection and term of office: the chief justice appointed by the president; the other justices appointed by the president with the advice of the chief justice; all justices hold office until age 65

subordinate courts: Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate's Courts; municipal and primary courts

Political parties and leaders

Eelam People's Democratic Party or EPDP

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP [Anura Kumara DISSANAYAKE]

Jathika Hela Urumaya or JHU [Patali Champika RANAWAKA]

Sri Lanka Freedom Party or SLFP [Maithripala SIRISENA]

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress or SLMC [Rauff HAKEEM]

Tamil National Alliance or TNA [R. SAMPANTHAN]

United National Front for Good Gevernance or EYJP (coalition includes UNP)

United National Party or UNP [Ranil WICKREMESINGHE]

United People's Freedom Alliance or UPFA (coalition includes SLFP)

Political pressure groups and leaders

Buddhist clergy

Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups

other: labor unions; hard-line nationalist Sinhalese groups such as the National Movement Against Terrorism

International organization participation


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 maroon 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 Sri Lankan Moors, and maroon the Sinhalese majority; yellow denotes other ethnic groups; also referred to as the Lion Flag

National symbol(s)

lion, water lily; national colors: maroon, yellow

National anthem

name: "Sri Lanka Matha" (Mother Sri Lanka)

lyrics/music: Ananda SAMARKONE

note: adopted 1951


Economy - overview

Sri Lanka continues to experience strong economic growth following the end of the government's 26-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The government has been pursuing large-scale reconstruction and development projects in its efforts to spur growth in war-torn and disadvantaged areas, develop small and medium enterprises and increase agricultural productivity. The government's high debt payments and bloated civil service have contributed to historically high budget deficits and low tax revenues remain a concern. Government debt of about 72% of GDP remains among the highest in emerging markets. The new government in 2015 drastically increased wages for public sector employees, which boosted demand for consumer goods but hurt the overall balance of payments and reduced foreign exchange reserves.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 62/230

$232.5 billion (2015 est.)

$214.4 billion (2014 est.)

$205.2 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$79.52 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 33/225

5.5% (2015 est.)

4.5% (2014 est.)

3.4% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 133/230

$11,200 (2015 est.)

$10,500 (2014 est.)

$9,800 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 31/179

27.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

26.9% of GDP (2014 est.)

26.1% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 67.6%

government consumption: 13.5%

investment in fixed capital: 28.4%

investment in inventories: -0.9%

exports of goods and services: 21.2%

imports of goods and services: -29.8%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 8.1%

industry: 29.1%

services: 62.8% (2015 est.)

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 95/202

2.7% (2015 est.)

Labor force 56/233

8.928 million (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 28.4%

industry: 25.7%

services: 45.9% (June 2012)

Unemployment rate 40/207

4.2% (2015 est.)

4.3% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line

8.9% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.6%

highest 10%: 39.5% (2009)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 23/144

49 (2010)

46 (1995)


revenues: $9.785 billion

expenditures: $15.38 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 207/219

12.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 191/220

-7% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 38/176

74.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

71.8% of GDP (2014 est.)

note: covers central government debt, and excludes debt instruments directly owned by government entities other than the treasury (e.g. commercial bank borrowings of a government corporation); the data includes treasury debt held by foreign entities as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement; sub-national entities are usually not permitted to sell debt instruments

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 65/226

0.8% (2015 est.)

3.3% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 64/156

6% (31 December 2013)

6.5% (19 December 2012)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 116/184

7.4% (31 December 2015 est.)

7.84% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 99/192

$5.007 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$4.591 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 79/193

$26.79 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$25.95 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 69/191

$35.91 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$33.21 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 67/121

$18.48 billion (31 November 2013 est.)

$17.05 billion (31 December 2012)

$19.44 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Current account balance 139/197

-$1.566 billion (2015 est.)

-$2.79 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 85/224

$11.28 billion (2015 est.)

$11.13 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

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

Exports - partners

US 25%, UK 10.2%, India 5.7%, Italy 5.6%, Germany 4.6% (2014)

Imports 73/223

$20.14 billion (2015 est.)

$19.42 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

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

Imports - partners

India 20.7%, China 17.8%, UAE 9.1%, Singapore 6.6%, Japan 4.9% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 87/170

$7.065 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$8.209 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 66/206

$45 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$42 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

Exchange rates

Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar -

140 (2015 est.)

130.57 (2014 est.)

130.57 (2013 est.)

127.6 (2012 est.)

110.57 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 93/220

11.36 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 89/219

10.17 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 118/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 129/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 87/214

3.373 million kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 148/214

51.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 64/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 52/214

47% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 81/212

1.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 117/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 108/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 59/214

32,520 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 116/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 86/214

31,150 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 78/212

108,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 165/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 62/213

72,790 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 169/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 128/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 76/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 175/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 123/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 91/212

15.23 million Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 52/219

total subscriptions: 2.7 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 55/217

total: 22.1 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 101 (2014 est.)

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) (2011)

Broadcast media

government operates 8 TV channels and a radio network; multi-channel satellite and cable TV subscription services available; 35 private TV stations and about 50 radio stations (2012)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 15, FM 52, shortwave 4 (2007)

Television broadcast stations

12 (2009)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 136/232

9,552 (2012)

Internet users 74/217

total: 4.4 million

percent of population: 19.9% (2014 est.)


Airports 137/236

19 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 15

over 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 6

914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 3 (2013)


1 (2013)

Railways 80/136

total: 1,447 km

broad gauge: 1,447 km 1.676-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 41/223

total: 114,093 km

paved: 16,977 km

unpaved: 97,116 km (2010)

Waterways 100/107

160 km (primarily on rivers in southwest) (2012)

Merchant marine 94/156

total: 21

by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 13, chemical tanker 1, container 1, petroleum tanker 2

foreign-owned: 8 (Germany 8) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Colombo

container port(s) (TEUs): Colombo (3,651,963)

Military and Security

Military branches

Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Coast Guard (2015)

Military service age and obligation

18-22 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; 5-year service obligation (Air Force) (2012)

Military expenditures 29/132

2.43% of GDP (2012)

2.89% of GDP (2011)

2.43% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Refugees and internally displaced persons

IDPs: up to 73,700 (civil war; more than half displaced prior to 2008; many of the more than 480,000 IDPs registered as returnees have not reached durable solutions) (2015)