The Palk Strait separates India (upper left) from Sri Lanka (center). This image shows the Strait filled with bright sediment, while off the northeast tip of Sri Lanka, a darkening in the waters could be a phytoplankton bloom. On Sri Lanka, many of the native forests have been cleared, but small pockets remain in preserves, such as that seen in the dark green southeastern portion of the island. The imaging satellite also detected a number of fires that are indicated in red. Image courtesy of NASA.
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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 cease-fire 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. Since Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA’s election, there have been concerns about his administration’s commitment to pursuing justice, human rights, and accountability reforms, as well as the risks to foreign creditors that Sri Lanka faces given its ongoing economic crisis. A combination of factors including the impact of the worldwide COVID pandemic; severe shortages of food, medicine, and fuel; and power outages have triggered increasingly violent protests in Columbo. Longtime parliamentarian and former five-time prime minister, Ranil WICKREMESINGHE replaced Mahinda RAJAPASKA as prime-minister in mid-May 2022, with a mandate to resolve the country's economic problems.

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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

Area comparison map
Area comparison map

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.)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 53.7

youth dependency ratio: 35.4

elderly dependency ratio: 17

potential support ratio: 5.9 (2021 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

13.8 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 131

Death rate

6.49 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 137

Net migration rate

-1.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

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: 19.2% of total population (2023)

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

Major urban areas - population

103,000 Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (legislative capital) (2018), 633,000 COLOMBO (capital) (2023)

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: 0.61 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

25.6 years (2016 est.)

note: data represents 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: 8.2 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 9.18 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78 years

male: 74.57 years

female: 81.56 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 99.7% of population

rural: 91.2% of population

total: 92.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.3% of population

rural: 8.8% of population

total: 7.2% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

4.1% of GDP (2019)

Physicians density

1.23 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

4.2 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 96.6% of population

rural: 97.9% of population

total: 97.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 3.4% of population

rural: 2.1% of population

total: 2.4% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

water contact diseases: leptospirosis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 2.58 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.22 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.01 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 2.32 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.03 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 122

Tobacco use

total: 22% (2020 est.)

male: 41.4% (2020 est.)

female: 2.6% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 74

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 0.9%

women married by age 18: 9.8% (2016 est.)


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)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 21%

male: 17.1%

female: 28.1% (2019 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: 19.2% of total population (2023)

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: intermediate (2020)

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

water contact diseases: leptospirosis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Food insecurity

widespread lack of access: due to serious macroeconomic challenges, significant reduction in 2022 cereal output, and high food prices - severe macroeconomic challenges, mostly reflecting dwindling foreign currency reserves after revenues from merchandise exports, remittances, and from the tourist sector declined dramatically over the last year, have had a negative impact on the country’s capacity to import cereals; the 2022 cereal production sharply declined due to a government ordered reduction in the application of chemical fertilizers; unprecedentedly high food prices are constraining economic access to food for a majority of households

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 (Sinhala)/ Ilankai Jananayaka Choshalichak Kutiyarachu (Tamil)

local short form: Shri Lanka (Sinhala)/ Ilankai (Tamil)

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 Ranil WICKREMESINGHE (since 20 July 2022); the president is both chief of state and head of government; prime minister (vacant)

head of government: President Ranil WICKREMESINGHE (since 20 July 2022)

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: Ranil WICKREMESINGHE elected president by Parliament on 20 July 2022; WICKREMESINGH 134 votes, Dullas ALAHAPPERUNA 82 votes

Note: amid public protests which began in March 2022, President Gotabaya RAJAPAKSE fled the country on 13 July and Ranil WICKREMESINGHE became acting president; RAJAPAKSE announced his resignation on the 14th, which was accepted by the speaker of Parliament the following day; Parliament on 20 July elected WICKREMESINGHE as president; vote - Ranil WICKREMESINGHE - 134,  Dullas ALAHAPPERUMA - 82

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 to the island wide proportional vote the party obtains; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 5 August 2020 (next  to be held in August 2025)

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 - men 213, women 12, percent of women 5.3%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): 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 or CFD [Ganeshalingam CHANDRALINGAM]
Eelam People's Democratic Party or EPDP [Douglas DEVANANDA]
Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front or EPRLF [Suresh PREMACHANDRAN]
Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi or ITAK [Mavai SENATHIRAJAH]
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]
People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam or PLOTE [D. SIDDARTHAN]
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 or SLPFA [Mahinda RAJAPAKSA] (includes SLPFP, SLPP, and several smaller parties)
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka's People's Front) or SLPP [G. L. PEIRIS]
Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization or TELO [Selvam ADAIKALANATHAN]
Tamil National Alliance or TNA [Rajavarothiam SAMPANTHAN] (includes ITAK, PLOTE, TELO)
Tamil National People's Front or TNPF [Gajendrakumar PONNAMBALAM]
United National Front for Good Governance or UNFGG [Ranil WICKREMESINGHE] (coalition includes JHU, UNP)
United National Party or UNP [Ranil WICKREMESINGHE]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Mahinda SAMARASINGHE (since 1 December 2021)

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 Julie J. CHUNG (since 17 February 2022)

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

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 8 (6 cultural, 2 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Ancient City of Polonnaruwa (c); Ancient City of Sigiriya (c); Sacred City of Anuradhapura (c); Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (c); Sacred City of Kandy (c); Sinharaja Forest Reserve (n); Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple (c); Central Highlands of Sri Lanka (n)


Economic overview

Sri Lanka’s economy has historically relied upon government-guided market investments, and since 2009, several sectors have been excluded from any privatization efforts. Major infrastructure development of rural and civil war-impacted areas remains a major focus, as does small business development. Sri Lanka’s longstanding high debt and large civil service have contributed to historically high budget deficits and remain a concern. Sri Lankan tourism soared since the end of conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, but the 2018 constitutional crisis, the 2019 Easter bombings, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have since destabilized this key industry, leading Sri Lanka to nearly expend all foreign currency reserves. Regionally, Sri Lanka has engaged China on major infrastructure projects and currently owes $6.5 billion, which may soon be restructured.

Fiscally, Sri Lanka’s focus on domestic goods—instead of export growth—further increased Sri Lanka’s trade imbalance, despite its EU preferential trade status allowing tax-free garment and gem exports to the EU. From 2019 until its repeal in 2021, Sri Lanka’s agricultural import ban on chemical fertilizers resulted in disastrous reductions in rice, tea, and rubber yields, increasing Sri Lanka’s import dependencies for these goods. The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War has also decreased fuel supplies and significantly increased prices. India is providing both direct fertilizer and fuel aid to offset these shortages. Power shortages plague business climates, and further stoke existing labor shortages. Additionally Sri Lanka is also considering privatizing several state-owned entities to try to spur industrial and service sectors’ growth.

Monetarily, Sri Lanka remains in a dire position, further exacerbated by the 2019 tax cuts that contributed to the country’s ongoing economic calamity. Already one of the highest indebted emerging markets, Sri Lanka defaulted on its current public debt payments in May 2022, and its ongoing currency crisis has crippled domestic revenues, tax collections, and economic activity, ushering in the country’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. As a result, inflation is skyrocketing (nearing 40%), and food, fuel, and medicine shortages have led to widespread unrest and economic collapse. Sri Lanka currently seeks an immediate $3 million IMF bridge loan and $75 million in foreign currency to pay for essential goods and fuel.The World Bank, India, and the G7 countries have agreed to aid Sri Lanka in securing debt relief, but the IMF maintains that Sri Lanka must raise interest rates and taxes to secure any loan.

Current Sri Lankan priorities focus on the following goals:

  • Securing a bridge loan from the IMF;
  • Improving its foreign currency reserves through continued promotion of tourism and privatization of state enterprises;
  • Recovering from COVID-19 pandemic-related economic disruptions and demand shocks;
  • Identifying alternative fuel supply chains; and
  • Restructuring preexisting infrastructure debts to China.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$274.8 billion (2020 est.)

$284.97 billion (2019 est.)

$278.68 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 55

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 (2020 est.)

$13,100 (2019 est.)

$12,900 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 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: 173

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: CCC (2020)

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: CCC+ (2020)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

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

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

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

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

$26.063 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 74

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: 63

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.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2019)


installed generating capacity: 4.527 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 13,991,420,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 1.337 billion kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 64% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.7% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 2.3% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 32.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)


production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 2.237 million metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 2.586 million metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)


total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 131,100 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 35,300 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

23.939 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 5.546 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 18.393 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,607,868 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 48

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 30,778,600 (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 144 (2019)

country comparison to the world: 46

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Sri Lanka’s fixed-line telephony market was one of the very few in the world to experience a significant upsurge in subscriptions in 2020; while the country suffers from a relatively poor fixed-line infrastructure and a correspondingly strong mobile sector, demand for traditional phone services increased 14% in 2020; preliminary results suggest a further jump of up to 13% can also be expected in 2021; this will take Sri Lanka’s fixed-line penetration to levels not seen since 2013; the most reason behind the market’s reversal of fortunes is the Covid-19 crisis and Sri Lanka’s ensuring lock downs; these forced much of the population back inside and reverting to ‘traditional’ methods of communication for both voice and data services; the fixed broadband market was equally robust, growing 20% in 2020 alone; Sri Lanka possesses a relatively low number of computers per household so the fixed broadband market’s success comes off a small base; the one area of the telecommunications market that experienced a fall was the mobile segment; up until the start of the pandemic, Sri Lanka had a very high mobile penetration rate of 155%; this near-saturation level reflected the preponderance for subscribers to carry multiple SIM cards to take advantage of cheaper on-net call rates; the reduction in demand and traffic because of the pandemic led to a sharp drop in the number of active subscriptions, down to just 135% – a 17% decline in just one year; the market is expected to bounce back quickly, as soon as the country eases back on its lock down measures and reduces travel restrictions; it will also be boosted, come 2022, by the anticipated launch of commercial 5G mobile services (2021)

domestic: fixed-line roughly 11 per 100 and mobile-cellular nearly 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 a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress toward 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

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: 7,671,650 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 35% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 74

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1,781,530 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 60


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 (2018) mt-km

Airports - with paved runways

total: 11

over 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5

914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 7

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 3

under 914 m: 2 (2021)


1 (2021)


7 km refined products


total: 1,562 km (2016)

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

country comparison to the world: 82


total: 114,093 km (2010)

paved: 16,977 km (2010)

unpaved: 97,116 km (2010)

country comparison to the world: 43


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

country comparison to the world: 110

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 Armed 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); Ministry of Public Security: Sri Lanka National Police (2022)

note: the Sri Lanka Police includes the Special Task Force, a paramilitary unit responsible for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations; it coordinates internal security operations with the military

Military expenditures

1.9% of GDP (2022 est.)

1.9% of GDP (2021 est.)

2% of GDP (2020 est.)

2% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $5.9 billion)

1.9% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $5.6 billion)

country comparison to the world: 67

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 240,000 total personnel (170,000 Army; 40,000 Navy; 30,000 Air Force); approximately 11,000 Special Task Force personnel (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory consists mostly of Chinese and Russian-origin equipment with a smaller mix of material from countries such as India and the US; since 2010, China, India, and the US have been the leading suppliers of arms to Sri Lanka (2022)

Military service age and obligation

18-22 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription (2022)

Military deployments

110 Central African Republic (MINUSCA); 125 Lebanon (UNIFIL); 240 Mali (MINUSMA) (May 2022)

Military - note

Sri Lanka traditionally has had close security ties to India; India participated in the counter-insurgency war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from 1987-1991, losing over 1,000 soldiers in the conflict; the Sri Lankan and Indian militaries continue 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

since the end of the war with LTTE, the Sri Lankan military has increased its role in a range of commercial sectors including agriculture, hotels, leisure, and restaurants; this expansion has been particularly discernible in the majority Tamil-populated northern and eastern provinces where a large portion of the Army reportedly remained deployed as of 2021 (2022)


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: 12,000 (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) (2021)