Sri Lanka

Country Summary

2022 population pyramid

Introduction

Background

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; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972.

Geography

Area

total: 65,610 sq km

land: 64,630 sq km

water: 980 sq km

Climate

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

Population

23,187,516 (2022 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.)

Languages

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

Religions

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

0.61% (2022 est.)

Government

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

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

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 Ranil WICKREMESINGHE (since 12 May 2022)

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

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)

Economy

Economic overview

lower middle-income South Asian island economy; extremely high public debts; rapid inflation; facing domestic food, fuel, and medicine shortages; tourism industry disrupted by COVID-19; known garment and commodities exporter; low foreign exchange reserves

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$274.8 billion (2020 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$12,500 (2020 est.)

Agricultural products

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

Industries

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

Exports

$19.41 billion (2019 est.)

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)

Imports

$24.56 billion (2019 est.)

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)


Page last updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2022