South Asia :: Sri Lanka

Introduction ::Sri Lanka

    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 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. By May 2009, the government announced that its military had defeated the remnants of the LTTE. 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 to reconstruct its economy, the government has resettled more than 95% of those civilians who were 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 at the end of the war.

Geography ::Sri Lanka

People and Society ::Sri Lanka

Government ::Sri Lanka

    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
    name: Colombo
    geographic coordinates: 6 55 N, 79 50 E
    time difference: UTC+5.5 (10.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    note: Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (legislative capital)
    9 provinces; Central, Eastern, North Central, Northern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western
    4 February 1948 (from the UK)
    Independence Day, 4 February (1948)
    adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978; amended many times, most recently in 2010
    mixed legal system of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, and Jaffna Tamil customary law
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    18 years of age; universal
    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
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    elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term, eligible for a second term; election last held on 26 January 2010 (next to be held in 2016)
    election results: Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA reelected president for second term; percent of vote - Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA 57.88%, Sarath FONSEKA 40.15%, other 1.97%
    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 1.34%; seats by alliance or party - United People's Freedom Alliance 144, United National Party 60, Tamil National Alliance 14, Democratic National Alliance 7
    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
    Coalitions and leaders: Democratic National Alliance, led by General (Retired) Sarath FONSEKA
    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]
    Buddhist clergy
    labor unions
    hard-line nationalist Sinhalese groups such as the National Movement Against Terrorism
    Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups
    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
    chief of mission: Ambassador Michele J. SISON
    embassy: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3
    mailing address: P. O. Box 106, Colombo
    telephone: [94] (11) 249-8500
    FAX: [94] (11) 243-7345
    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
    name: "Sri Lanka Matha" (Mother Sri Lanka)

    lyrics/music: Ananda SAMARKONE
    note: adopted 1951

Economy ::Sri Lanka

    Sri Lanka continues to experience strong economic growth following the end of the 26-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). 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, but fiscal consolidation efforts and strong GDP growth in recent years have helped bring down the government's fiscal deficit. However, low tax revenues are a major concern. The 2008-09 global financial crisis and recession exposed Sri Lanka''s economic vulnerabilities and nearly caused a balance of payments crisis. Growth slowed to 3.5% in 2009. Economic activity rebounded with the end of the war and an IMF agreement, resulting in two straight years of 8% growth in 2010-11. Growth moderated to about 6% in 2012. Agriculture slowed due to a drought and weak global demand affected exports and trade. In early 2012, Sri Lanka floated the rupee, resulting in a sharp depreciation, and took steps to curb imports. A large trade deficit remains a concern. Strong remittances from Sri Lankan workers abroad have helped to offset the trade deficit.
    $128.4 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 67
    $120.6 billion (2011 est.)
    $111.4 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $59.41 billion (2012 est.)
    6.4% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 37
    8.2% (2011 est.)
    8% (2010 est.)
    $6,200 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    $5,900 (2011 est.)
    $5,500 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    23.8% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 53
    22.1% of GDP (2011 est.)
    25.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 69.6%
    government consumption: 13.5%
    investment in fixed capital: 28.9%
    investment in inventories: 1.8%
    exports of goods and services: 22.8%
    imports of goods and services: -36.5%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 11.1%
    industry: 31.5%
    services: 57.5% (2012 est.)
    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
    10.3% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 9
    8.194 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 58
    agriculture: 31.8%
    industry: 25.8%
    services: 42.4% (June 2012)
    5.2% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 47
    4.2% (2011 est.)
    8.9% (2010 est.)
    lowest 10%: 1.6%
    highest 10%: 39.5% (2009)
    49 (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 24
    46 (1995)
    revenues: $7.868 billion
    expenditures: $11.63 billion (2012 est.)
    13.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 199
    -6.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 183
    77.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 30
    78.4% of GDP (2011 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
    calendar year
    7.5% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 182
    6.7% (2011 est.)
    7.5% (19 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 37
    7% (31 December 2011 est.)
    13.25% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    9.41% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $3.539 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 110
    $3.852 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $21.89 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 82
    $18.88 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
    $28.86 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 72
    $26.53 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $16.92 billion (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 65
    $19.44 billion (31 December 2011)
    $19.92 billion (31 December 2010)
    -$4.737 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 164
    -$4.638 billion (2011 est.)
    $9.785 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    $10.56 billion (2011 est.)
    textiles and apparel, tea and spices; rubber manufactures; precious stones; coconut products, fish
    US 22.6%, UK 9.8%, India 6.4%, Belgium 5.2%, Germany 4.8%, Italy 4.3% (2012)
    $17.32 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 82
    $18.24 billion (2011 est.)
    petroleum, textiles, machinery and transportation equipment, building materials, mineral products, foodstuffs
    India 21.3%, China 16.5%, Singapore 8.6%, Iran 7.7%, UAE 4.4%, Malaysia 4.3% (2012)
    $6.831 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 83
    $6.748 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $26.87 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 76
    $23.98 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar -
    127.6 (2012 est.)
    110.57 (2011 est.)
    113.06 (2010 est.)
    114.95 (2009)
    108.33 (2008)

Energy ::Sri Lanka

Communications ::Sri Lanka

    2.832 million (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 52
    19.336 million (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 49
    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)
    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)
    9,552 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 136
    1.777 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 77

Transportation ::Sri Lanka

Military ::Sri Lanka

Transnational Issues ::Sri Lanka

    IDPs: 118,376 (civil war; more than half displaced prior to 2008; many of the more than 470,000 IDPs registered as returnees had not reached durable solutions as of September 2012) (2012)
    current situation: Sri Lanka is primarily a source and, to a much lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; some Sri Lankan adults and children who migrate willingly to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Singapore to work as domestic servants, construction workers, or garment factory workers face conditions indicative of forced labor; some Sri Lankan women are forced into prostitution in Jordan, Singapore, Maldives, and other countries; within Sri Lanka, women and children are subjected to sex trafficking in brothels, while other children are forced to work in the agriculture, fireworks, and fish-drying industries
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Sri Lanka does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; law enforcement efforts and victim protection, particularly identification, are very weak, with no reported prosecutions or convictions under the country's penal code article prohibiting human trafficking; government employees' complicity in trafficking offenses remains a problem; the government has not approved its draft standard operating procedures for identifying trafficking victims and referring them to protective services, consequently, victims may have been punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked; the government adopted an anti-trafficking action plan in 2012 (2013)