Photos of Sri Lanka

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.



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 about 200 B.C. to about A.D. 1000) and Polonnaruwa (from about A.D. 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; the name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. Prevailing tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted into war in 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 2009.

During the post-conflict years under then-President Mahinda RAJAPAKSA, the government initiated infrastructure development projects, many of which were financed by loans from China. His regime faced 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, political, and judicial reforms. However, implementation of these reforms was uneven. In 2019, Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA won the presidential election and appointed his brother Mahinda prime minister. Civil society raised concerns about the RAJAPAKSA administration’s commitment to pursuing justice, human rights, and accountability reforms, as well as the risks to foreign creditors that Sri Lanka faced given its ongoing economic crisis. A combination of factors including the COVID-19 pandemic; severe shortages of food, medicine, and fuel; and power outages triggered increasingly violent protests in Columbo beginning in 2022. In response, WICKREMESINGHE -- who had already served as prime minister five times -- was named to replace the prime minister, but he became president within a few months when Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA fled the country. 

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

comparison ranking: total 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


total: 21,982,608

male: 10,642,043

female: 11,340,565 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 60; male 62; total 61


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: 22.6% (male 2,537,918/female 2,423,615)

15-64 years: 65% (male 6,954,869/female 7,336,897)

65 years and over: 12.4% (2024 est.) (male 1,149,256/female 1,580,053)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 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: 34.1 years (2024 est.)

male: 32.2 years

female: 35.8 years

comparison ranking: total 107

Population growth rate

0.39% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 159

Birth rate

14.5 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 116

Death rate

7.5 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 101

Net migration rate

-3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 179

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.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

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

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

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

total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2024 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

29 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 112

Infant mortality rate

total: 6.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 7.5 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.1 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 157

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.8 years (2024 est.)

male: 73.7 years

female: 79.9 years

comparison ranking: total population 100

Total fertility rate

2.13 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 93

Gross reproduction rate

1.04 (2024 est.)

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 (2020)

Physician 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 (2023)

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

water contact diseases: leptospirosis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

5.2% (2016)

comparison ranking: 182

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.)

comparison ranking: total 122

Tobacco use

total: 22% (2020 est.)

male: 41.4% (2020 est.)

female: 2.6% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 72

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

20.5% (2016)

comparison ranking: 16

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 0.9%

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

Education expenditures

1.9% of GDP (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 187


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)


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


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.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

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

Revenue from forest resources

0.06% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 126

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 178

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 23.88 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 23.36 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 10.95 megatons (2020 est.)

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: 810 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 830 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 11.31 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

52.8 billion cubic meters (2020 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)

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 between mid-September and mid-October 2024)

election results: Ranil WICKREMESINGHE elected president by Parliament on 20 July 2022; Parliament vote - WICKREMESINGHE (UNP) 134, Dullas ALAHAPPERUMA (SLPP) 82

Note: amid public protests which began in March 2022, President Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA fled the country on 13 July and Ranil WICKREMESINGHE became acting president; RAJAPAKSA announced his resignation on the 14th, which was accepted by the speaker of Parliament the following day

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 party/coalition - 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 party/coalition - SLFPA 145, SJB 54, TNA 10, JVP 3, other 13; composition- men 213, women 12, percentage 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 [Udaya GAMMANPILA]
National People's Power or NPP (also known as Jathika Jana Balawegaya or JJB) [Anura Kumara DISSANAYAKE]
People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam or PLOTE [Dharmalingam 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 [Gamini Lakshman 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]
Tamil People's National Alliance or TPNA [Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam VIGNESWARAN]
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 13 January 2022)

chancery: 3025 Whitehaven Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 483-4025

FAX: [1] 202-232-2329

email address and website:

consulate(s) general: Los Angeles

consulate(s): 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

This is an audio of the National Anthem for Sri Lanka. The national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.:

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

economic contraction in 2022-23 marked by increased poverty and significant inflation; IMF two-year debt relief program following 2022 sovereign default; structural challenges from non-diversified economy and rigid labor laws; heavy dependence on tourism receipts and remittances

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$270.611 billion (2022 est.)
$293.581 billion (2021 est.)
$283.62 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 60

Real GDP growth rate

-7.82% (2022 est.)
3.51% (2021 est.)
-4.62% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 213

Real GDP per capita

$12,200 (2022 est.)
$13,300 (2021 est.)
$12,900 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 130

GDP (official exchange rate)

$74.404 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

49.72% (2022 est.)
7.01% (2021 est.)
6.15% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 215

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.)

comparison rankings: services 109; industry 75; agriculture 102

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, plantains, tea, sugarcane, milk, cassava, fiber crops, maize, chicken (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage


processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; tourism; clothing and textiles; mining

Industrial production growth rate

-15.95% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 216

Labor force

8.775 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 61

Unemployment rate

6.18% (2022 est.)
5.31% (2021 est.)
5.36% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 128

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 26.1% (2021 est.)

male: 21.1%

female: 35.6%

comparison ranking: total 57

Population below poverty line

14.3% (2019 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

37.7 (2019 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 74

Average household expenditures

on food: 27.7% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

on alcohol and tobacco: 3.4% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.1%

highest 10%: 30.8% (2019 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population


5.13% of GDP (2022 est.)
6.24% of GDP (2021 est.)
8.46% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities


revenues: $10.623 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $17.496 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-5.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 174

Public debt

79.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
79.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
73.51% of GDP (2015 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 42

Taxes and other revenues

7.38% (of GDP) (2021 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 203

Current account balance

-$1.453 billion (2022 est.)
-$3.284 billion (2021 est.)
-$1.187 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 135


$16.169 billion (2022 est.)
$14.974 billion (2021 est.)
$13.083 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 96

Exports - partners

US 24%, India 8%, UK 7%, Germany 6%, Italy 4% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

garments, tea, used rubber tires, rubber products, precious stones (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars


$19.244 billion (2022 est.)
$21.526 billion (2021 est.)
$18.271 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 96

Imports - partners

India 34%, China 19%, UAE 5%, Malaysia 4%, Singapore 4% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, fabric, ships, cotton fabric, synthetic fabric (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$3.137 billion (2021 est.)
$5.664 billion (2020 est.)
$7.648 billion (2019 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 113

Debt - external

$55.332 billion (2019 est.)
$52.567 billion (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 64

Exchange rates

Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
198.764 (2021 est.)
185.593 (2020 est.)
178.745 (2019 est.)
162.465 (2018 est.)
152.446 (2017 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2022 est.)


installed generating capacity: 5.04 million kW (2022 est.)

consumption: 10.401 billion kWh (2022 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 1.62 billion kWh (2022 est.)

comparison rankings: transmission/distribution losses 117; consumption 103; installed generating capacity 90

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 47.4% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

solar: 5.3% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

wind: 5.8% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

hydroelectricity: 40.6% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

biomass and waste: 0.8% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)


consumption: 2.084 million metric tons (2022 est.)

exports: (2022 est.) less than 1 metric ton

imports: 2.205 million metric tons (2022 est.)


refined petroleum consumption: 121,000 bbl/day (2022 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

21.766 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 4.663 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 17.103 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 82

Energy consumption per capita

14.449 million Btu/person (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: 142


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2.582 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 45

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 31.237 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 143 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 47

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 is 12 per 100 and mobile-cellular is 143 per 100 (2022)

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)

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: 14.74 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 67% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 51

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

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

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 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


18 (2024)

comparison ranking: 141


1 (2024)


7 km refined products


total: 1,562 km (2016)

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

comparison ranking: total 81


total: 114,093 km

paved: 16,977 km

unpaved: 97,116 km (2010)

comparison ranking: total 44


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

comparison ranking: 110

Merchant marine

total: 96 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 5, general cargo 15, oil tanker 11, other 65

comparison ranking: total 92


total ports: 6 (2024)

large: 0

medium: 2

small: 1

very small: 1

size unknown: 2

ports with oil terminals: 2

key ports: Batticaloa Roads, Colombo, Galle Harbor, Hambantota, Kankesanturai, Trincomalee Harbor

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 (2024)

note 1: the Civil Security Department, also known as the Civil Defense Force, is an auxiliary force administered by the Ministry of Defense

note 2: 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

1.6% of GDP (2023 est.)
1.7% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.9% of GDP (2021 est.)
2% of GDP (2020 est.)
2% of GDP (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 88

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 260,000 total personnel (200,000 Army; 30,000 Navy; 30,000 Air Force); approximately 11,000 Special Task Force personnel (2023)

note: in January 2023, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense announced plans to decrease the size of the Army to 135,000 by 2024 and 100,000 by 2030

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 (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-22 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription (2023)

Military deployments

110 Central African Republic (MINUSCA); 125 Lebanon (UNIFIL); 240 Mali (MINUSMA) (2024)

Military - note

the military is responsible for external defense and may be called upon to handle specifically delineated domestic security responsibilities that generally do not include arrest authority; it has sent small numbers of personnel on UN peacekeeping missions; from 1983 to 2009, it fought against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a conflict that involved both guerrilla and conventional warfare, as well as acts of terrorism and human rights abuses, and cost the military nearly 30,000 killed; since the end of the war, a large portion of the Army reportedly remains deployed in the majority Tamil-populated northern and eastern provinces; the military over the past decade also has increased its role in a range of commercial sectors including agriculture, hotels, leisure, and restaurants 

Sri Lanka traditionally has had close security ties to India; India participated in the LTTE war in 1987-1991, losing over 1,000 soldiers; the Sri Lankan and Indian militaries continue to conduct exercises together, and India trains over 1,000 Sri Lankan soldiers per year; in recent years, Sri Lanka has increased military ties with China, including acquiring military equipment, hosting naval port calls, and sending personnel to China for training (2023)


Terrorist group(s)

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) (2022)

stateless persons: 35 (2022)