The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was established in 1975 to care for orphaned wild elephants found wandering the forests of Sri Lanka. The orphanage is located in the town of Pinnawala, about 90 km northeast of Colombo. Since 1995, newly found orphan elephants have been cared for at the Elephant Transit Home created by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation, while the Pinnawala facility has focused on the existing herd of elephants. In 1982, an elephant breeding program was begun at Pinnawala and the herd is estimated now to number about 70 elephants.
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The first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C., probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced circa 250 B.C., and the first kingdoms developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (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 followed 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. Prevailing tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted into war in July 1983. Fighting between the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continued for over a quarter century. Although Norway brokered peace negotiations that led to a ceasefire in 2002, the fighting slowly resumed and was again in full force by 2006. The government defeated the LTTE in May 2009.

During the post-conflict years under President Mahinda RAJAPAKSA, the government initiated infrastructure development projects, many of which were financed by loans from China. His regime faced significant allegations of human rights violations and a shrinking democratic space for civil society.  In 2015, a new coalition government headed by President Maithripala SIRISENA of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Prime Minister Ranil WICKREMESINGHE of the United National Party came to power with pledges to advance economic, governance, anti-corruption, reconciliation, justice, and accountability reforms. However, implementation of these reforms has been uneven. In October 2018, President SIRISENA attempted to oust Prime Minister WICKREMESINGHE, swearing in former President RAJAPAKSA as the new prime minister and issuing an order to dissolve the parliament and hold elections. This sparked a seven-week constitutional crisis that ended when the Supreme Court ruled SIRISENA’s actions unconstitutional, RAJAPAKSA resigned, and WICKREMESINGHE was reinstated. In November 2019, Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA won the presidential election and appointed his brother, Mahinda, prime minister.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



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

Geographic coordinates

7 00 N, 81 00 E


total: 65,610 sq km

land: 64,630 sq km

water: 980 sq km

country comparison to the world: 122

Area - comparative

slightly larger than West Virginia

<p>slightly larger than West Virginia</p>

Land boundaries

total: 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


highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 228 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 43.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 20.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 15.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 7% (2018 est.)

forest: 29.4% (2018 est.)

other: 27.1% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

5,700 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

the population is primarily concentrated within a broad wet zone in the southwest, urban centers along the eastern coast, and on the Jaffna Peninsula in the north

Natural hazards

occasional cyclones and tornadoes

Geography - note

strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes; Adam's Bridge is a chain of limestone shoals between the southeastern coast of India and the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka; geological evidence suggests that this 50-km long Bridge once connected India and Sri Lanka; ancient records seem to indicate that a foot passage was possible between the two land masses until the 15th century when the land bridge broke up in a cyclone

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) 87%, Tamil (official and national language) 28.5%, English 23.8% (2012 est.)

note: data represent main languages spoken by the population aged 10 years and older; shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census; English 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.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 23.11% (male 2,696,379/female 2,592,450)

15-24 years: 14.58% (male 1,700,442/female 1,636,401)

25-54 years: 41.2% (male 4,641,842/female 4,789,101)

55-64 years: 10.48% (male 1,110,481/female 1,288,056)

65 years and over: 10.63% (male 1,023,315/female 1,410,734) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Sri Lanka. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 53.7

youth dependency ratio: 36.4

elderly dependency ratio: 17.3

potential support ratio: 5.8 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 33.7 years

male: 32.3 years

female: 35.1 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 97

Birth rate

14.01 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 131

Death rate

6.45 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 137

Net migration rate

-1.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

Population distribution

the population is primarily concentrated within a broad wet zone in the southwest, urban centers along the eastern coast, and on the Jaffna Peninsula in the north


urban population: 18.9% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.22% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

103,000 Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (legislative capital) (2018), 619,000 COLOMBO (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female

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

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

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

65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

25.6 years (2016 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 30-34

Maternal mortality ratio

36 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 106

Infant mortality rate

total: 8.36 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 9.35 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 150

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.75 years

male: 74.31 years

female: 81.33 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 81

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.1% of population

rural: 91.4% of population

total: 92.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.9% of population

rural: 8.6% of population

total: 7.4% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

1 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

4.2 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 97.1% of population

rural: 99.3% of population

total: 98.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.9% of population

rural: 0.7% of population

total: 1.1% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<200 (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk:



vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

water contact diseases: leptospirosis

animal contact diseases: rabies


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 92.3%

male: 93%

female: 91.6% (2019)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years

male: 14 years

female: 14 years (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 21.1%

male: 16.6%

female: 29.4% (2018 est.)


Environment - current issues

deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching and urbanization; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; coral reef destruction; 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, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 15.25 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 23.36 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 10.95 megatons (2020 est.)


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

Land use

agricultural land: 43.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 20.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 15.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 7% (2018 est.)

forest: 29.4% (2018 est.)

other: 27.1% (2018 est.)


urban population: 18.9% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.22% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 169

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk:



vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

water contact diseases: leptospirosis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 2,631,650 tons (2016 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 336,588 tons (2016 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 12.8% (2016 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 805 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 831 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 11.31 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

52.8 billion cubic meters (2017 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

etymology: the name means "resplendent island" in Sanskrit

Government type

presidential republic


name: Colombo (commercial capital); Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (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)

etymology: Colombo may derive from the Sinhala "kolon thota," meaning "port on the river" (referring to the Kelani River that empties into the Indian Ocean at Colombo); alternatively, the name may derive from the Sinhala "kola amba thota" meaning "harbor with mango trees"; it is also possible that the Portuguese named the city after Christopher COLUMBUS, who lived in Portugal for many years (as Cristovao COLOMBO) before discovering the Americas for the Spanish crown in 1492 - not long before the Portuguese made their way to Sri Lanka in 1505; Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte translates as "Resplendent City of Growing Victory" in Sinhala

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 (National Day), 4 February (1948)


history: several previous; latest adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978

amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of its total membership, certification by the president of the republic or the Parliament speaker, and in some cases approval in a referendum by absolute majority of valid votes; amended many times, last in 2020

Legal system

mixed legal system of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, Jaffna Tamil customary law, and Muslim personal 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 Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA (since 18 November 2019); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government; Prime Minister Mahinda RAJAPAKSA (since 21 November 2019)

head of government: President Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA (since 18 November 2019)

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

elections/appointments: president directly elected by preferential majority popular vote for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 16 November 2019 (next to be held in 2024); prime minister appointed by the president from among members of Parliament for a 5-year term)

election results: Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA elected president; percent of vote - Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA (SLPP) 52.2%, Sajith PREMADASA (UNP) 42%, other 5.8%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament (225 seats; 196 members directly elected in multi-seat district constituencies by proportional representation vote using a preferential method in which voters select 3 candidates in order of preference; remaining 29 seats, referred to as the "national list" are allocated by each party secretary according the the island wide proportional vote the party obtains; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 17 August 2015 (next originally scheduled for 25 April 2020 but postponed to due to the COVID-19 pandemic)

election results: percent of vote by coalition/party - SLFPA 59.1%, SJB 23.9%, JVP 3.8%, TNA 2.8%, UNP 2.2%, TNPF 0.6%, EPDP 0.5%,  other 7.1%; seats by coalition/party - SLFPA 145, SJB 54, TNA 10, JVP 3, other 13; composition - NA

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court of the Republic (consists of the chief justice and 9 justices); note - the court has exclusive jurisdiction to review legislation

judge selection and term of office: chief justice nominated by the Constitutional Council (CC), a 9-member high-level advisory body, and appointed by the president; other justices nominated by the CC and appointed by the president on the advice of the chief justice; all justices can serve until age 65

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

Political parties and leaders

Crusaders for Democracy [Ganeshalingam CHANDRALINGAM]
Eelam People's Democratic Party or EPDP [Douglas DEVANANDA]
Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front [Suresh PREMACHANDRAN]
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP [Anura Kumara DISSANAYAKE]
Jathika Hela Urumaya or JHU [Karunarathna PARANAWITHANA, Ven. Hadigalle Wimalasara THERO]
National Peoples Power or JVP [Anura Kumara DISSANAYAKE]
Samagi Jana Balawegaya or SJB [Sajith PREMADASA]
Sri Lanka Freedom Party or SLFP [Maithripala SIRISENA]
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress or SLMC [Rauff HAKEEM]
Sri Lanka People's Freedom Alliance [Mahinda RAJAPAKSA]
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna or SLPP [G. L. PEIRIS]
Tamil National Alliance or TNA [Rajavarothiam SAMPANTHAN] (alliance includes Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi [Mavai SENATHIRAJAH], People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam [D. SIDDARTHAN], Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization [Selvam ADAIKALANATHAN])
Tamil National People's Front [Gajendrakumar PONNAMBALAM]
United National Front for Good Governance or UNFGG [Ranil WICKREMESINGHE] (coalition includes JHU, UNP)
United National Party or UNP [Ranil WICKREMESINGHE]
United People's Freedom Alliance or UPFA [Maithripala SIRISENA] (coalition includes SLFP)

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Ravinatha ARYASINHA (since 23 December 2020)

chancery: 3025 Whitehaven Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 483-4025 through 4028

FAX: [1] (202) 232-7181

email address and website:

consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Alaina B. TEPLITZ (since 1 November 2018); note - also accredited to Maldives

embassy: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 03

mailing address: 6100 Colombo Place, Washington DC  20521-6100

telephone: [94] (11) 249-8500

FAX: [94] (11) 243-7345

email address and website:

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


Economic overview

Sri Lanka is attempting to sustain economic growth while maintaining macroeconomic stability under the IMF program it began in 2016. The government's high debt payments and bloated civil service, which have contributed to historically high budget deficits, remain a concern. Government debt is about 79% of GDP and remains among the highest of the emerging markets. In the coming years, Sri Lanka will need to balance its elevated debt repayment schedule with its need to maintain adequate foreign exchange reserves.

In May 2016, Sri Lanka regained its preferential trade status under the European Union’s Generalized System of Preferences Plus, enabling many of its firms to export products, including its top export garments, tax free to the EU. In 2017, Parliament passed a new Inland Revenue Act in an effort to increase tax collection and broaden the tax base in response to recommendations made under its IMF program. In November 2017, the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering and terrorist financing listed Sri Lanka as non-compliant, but reported subsequently that Sri Lanka had made good progress in implementing an action plan to address deficiencies.

Tourism has experienced strong growth in the years since the resolution of the government's 26-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. In 2017, the government promulgated plans to transform the country into a knowledge-based, export-oriented Indian Ocean hub by 2025.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$274.8 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$284.97 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$278.68 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 56

Real GDP growth rate

2.29% (2019 est.)

3.32% (2018 est.)

3.58% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 122

Real GDP per capita

$12,500 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$13,100 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$12,900 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 119

GDP (official exchange rate)

$84.016 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

4.3% (2019 est.)

4.2% (2018 est.)

6.5% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 174

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: CCC (2020)

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: CCC+ (2020)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 7.8% (2017 est.)

industry: 30.5% (2017 est.)

services: 61.7% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 62% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 8.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 26.3% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 10.2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 21.9% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -29.1% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, coconuts, sugar cane, plantains, milk, tea, cassava, maize, poultry, coir


processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; tourism, shipping; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining, information technology services, construction

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 27%

industry: 26%

services: 47% (31 December 2016)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3%

highest 10%: 32.2% (2012 est.)


revenues: 12.07 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 16.88 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

79.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

79.6% of GDP (2016 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 intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental 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

country comparison to the world: 35

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$10 million (2019 est.)

-$17 million (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 69


$19.41 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$20.26 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

$15.166 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 83

Exports - partners

United States 24%, India 8%, United Kingdom 7%, Germany 7% (2019)

Exports - commodities

clothing and apparel, tea, used tires, rubber products, precious stones, cinnamon (2019)


$24.56 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$26.84 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

$26.063 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75

Imports - partners

India 24%, China 23%, Singapore 7%, United Arab Emirates 6%, Malaysia 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, textiles, gold, cars, broadcasting equipment (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$7.959 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$6.019 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 78

Debt - external

$55.332 billion (2019 est.)

$52.567 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64

Exchange rates

Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar -

185.8 (2020 est.)

181.2 (2019 est.)

178.545 (2018 est.)

135.86 (2014 est.)

130.57 (2013 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 21.1%

male: 16.6%

female: 29.4% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 71


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2019)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,428,957 (2020)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11.34 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 51

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 29,730,465 (2020)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 138.8 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 46

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: telephone services have improved significantly; strong growth anticipated as Sri Lanka is lagging behind other Asian telecoms; increase in mobile broadband penetration; govt. funds telecom sector to expand fiber and LTE networks and growing investment in 5G services (2020)

domestic: fixed-line 11 per 100 and mobile-cellular 139 per 100; national trunk network consists of digital microwave radio relay and fiber-optic links; fixed wireless local loops have been installed; competition is strong in mobile cellular systems and mobile cellular subscribership is increasing (2020)

international: country code - 94; landing points for the SeaMeWe -3,-5,  Dhiraagu-SLT Submarine Cable Network, WARF Submarine Cable, Bharat Lanka Cable System and the Bay of Bengal Gateway submarine cables providing connectivity to Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

government operates 5 TV channels and 19 radio channels; multi-channel satellite and cable TV subscription services available; 25 private TV stations and about 43 radio stations; 6 non-profit TV stations and 4 radio stations

Internet users

total: 10.9 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 35% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1,992,429 (2020)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9.3 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 59


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 34

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 5,882,376 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 436.2 million mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 11

over 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5

914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2020)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 7

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 3

under 914 m: 2 (2020)


1 (2020)


7 km refined products


total: 1,562 km (2016)

broad gauge: 1,562 km 1.676-m gauge (2016)

country comparison to the world: 84


total: 114,093 km (2010)

paved: 16,977 km (2010)

unpaved: 97,116 km (2010)

country comparison to the world: 43


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

country comparison to the world: 100

Merchant marine

total: 90

by type: bulk carrier 6, general cargo 13, oil tanker 11, other 60 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 97

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Colombo

container port(s) (TEUs): Colombo (7,228,337) (2019)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Sri Lanka Army (includes National Guard and the Volunteer Force), Sri Lanka Navy (includes Marine Corps), Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Coast Guard; Civil Security Department (Home Guard); Sri Lanka National Police: Special Task Force (counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency) (2021)

Military expenditures

2% of GDP (2020 est.)

1.9% of GDP (2019)

1.9% of GDP (2018)

2.1% of GDP (2017)

2.2% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 62

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Sri Lankan military has approximately 250,000 total personnel (180,000 Army; 40,000 Navy; 30,000 Air Force); approximately 11,000 Special Task Force (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Sri Lankan military inventory consists mostly of Chinese and Russian-origin equipment; since 2010, China, India, and the US have been the leading suppliers of arms to Sri Lanka (2021)

Military deployments

110 Central African Republic (MINUSCA); 125 Lebanon (UNIFIL); 240 Mali (MINUSMA) (Sep 2021)

Military service age and obligation

18-22 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2021)

Military - note

Sri Lanka traditionally has had close security ties to India; India participated in the counter-insurgency war against the LTTE from 1987-1991, losing over 1,000 soldiers in the conflict; as of 2021, the Sri Lankan and Indian militaries continued to conduct exercises together, and India trains over 1,000 Sri Lankan soldiers per year; however, since the end of the war with LTTE, Sri Lanka has also increased military ties with China, including acquiring military equipment, hosting naval port calls, and sending personnel to China for training


Terrorist group(s)

Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS); Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

IDPs: 27,000 (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) (2020)

Trafficking in persons

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; the majority of trafficking cases involve traffickers forcing Sri Lankan workers into labor overseas; men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the United States in construction, garment manufacturing, and domestic service; authorities have identified labor trafficking victims among Sri Lankan female migrant workers who seek employment in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Japan, and South Korea; traffickers force children, individuals with physical deformities, and those from socially vulnerable groups to beg or engage in criminal activity in Sri Lanka’s largest cities

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Sri Lanka does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; efforts include convicting traffickers under its trafficking statute, identifying victims, and working on anti-trafficking training and raising awareness; however, some officials reportedly complicit in trafficking are inadequately investigated; fewer victims were identified in country and abroad; social and legal assistance for victims remained inadequate and inconsistent; the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment did not refer potential trafficking cases to police for criminal investigation; police continued to arrest  trafficking victims for prostitution, vagrancy, and immigration offenses; child sex trafficking victims remained in government detention centers (2020)