Sri Lanka

Country Summary

2023 population pyramid



The first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C., probably from northern India. 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.



total: 65,610 sq km
land: 64,630 sq km
water: 980 sq km


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

Natural resources

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

People and Society


total: 21,982,608
male: 10,642,043
female: 11,340,565 (2024 est.)

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.)


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

Population growth rate

0.39% (2024 est.)


Government type

presidential republic


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

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 Dinesh GUNAWARDENA (since 22 July 2022); note - prime minister functions as deputy to the president)
head of government: President Ranil WICKREMESINGHE (since 20 July 2022)

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)


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.)

Real GDP per capita

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

Agricultural products

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


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


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

Exports - partners

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

Exports - commodities

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


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

Imports - partners

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

Imports - commodities

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

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.)

Page last updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2024