Sri Lanka

Country Summary



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.



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


23,326,272 (2023 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

0.59% (2023 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)
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

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)

$296.595 billion (2021 est.)
$287.046 billion (2020 est.)
$297.372 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$13,400 (2021 est.)
$13,100 (2020 est.)
$13,600 (2019 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


8.37% of GDP (2020 est.)
7.58% of GDP (2019 est.)
7.45% of GDP (2018 est.)


$13.083 billion (2020 est.)
$19.414 billion (2019 est.)
$20.264 billion (2018 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)


$18.271 billion (2020 est.)
$24.562 billion (2019 est.)
$26.841 billion (2018 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)

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, November 14, 2023