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Countries > Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Flag

Languages   3 languages are spoken in Sri Lanka (Ceylon). We have 86 products available for those languages.

Capital: Colombo
Population: 18,090,000
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Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Map


Location: Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India

Geographic coordinates: 7 00 N, 81 00 E

Map references: Asia

total : 65,610 sq km
land: 64,740 sq km
water: 870 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 1,340 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

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

Terrain: mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m

Natural resources: limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay

Land use:
arable land: 14%
permanent crops: 15%
permanent pastures : 7%
forests and woodland: 32%
other: 32% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: 6,510 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards: occasional cyclones and tornadoes

Environment - current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note: strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes


Population: 19,576,783
note: since the outbreak of hostilities between the government and armed Tamil separatists in the mid-1980s, several hundred thousand Tamil civilians have fled the island; as of mid-1999, approximately 66,000 were housed in 133 refugee camps in south India, another 40,000 lived outside the Indian camps, and more than 200,000 Tamils have sought refuge in the West (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 25.6% (male 2,559,246; female 2,446,393)
15-64 years : 67.7% (male 6,446,320; female 6,802,515)
65 years and over: 6.7% (male 628,398; female 693,911) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.85% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 16.36 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 6.45 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years:1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years : 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 15.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.35 years
male:69.83 years
female:75 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.93 children born/woman (2002 est.)

noun: Sri Lankan(s)
adjective: Sri Lankan

Ethnic groups: Sinhalese 74%, Tamil 18%, Moor 7%, Burgher, Malay, and Vedda 1%

Religions: Buddhist 70%, Hindu 15%, Christian 8%, Muslim 7% (1999)

Languages: Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%, other 8%
note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.2%
male: 93.4%
female: 87.2% (1995 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form : Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
conventional short form: Sri Lanka
former: Ceylon

Data code: CE

Government type: republic

National capital: Colombo

Administrative divisions: 8 provinces; Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western

Independence: 4 February 1948 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence and National Day, 4 February (1948)

Constitution: adopted 16 August 1978

Legal system: a highly complex mixture of English common law, Roman-Dutch, Muslim, Sinhalese, and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state:President Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (since 12 November 1994); note - Ranil WICKREMASINGHE (since 9 December 2001) is the prime minister; in Sri Lanka the president is considered both the chief of state and head of government, in contrast to the more common practice of dividing the roles between the president and the prime minister when both offices exist
head of government:President Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (since 12 November 1994); note - Ranil WICKREMASINGHE (since 9 December 2001) is the prime minister; in Sri Lanka the president is considered both the chief of state and head of government, in contrast to the more common practice of dividing the roles between the president and the prime minister when both offices exist
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister
elections : president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 21 December 1999 (next to be held NA December 2005)
election results : Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA reelected president; percent of vote - Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (PA) 51%, Ranil WICKREMASINGHE (UNP) 42%, other 7%

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (225 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of a modified proportional representation system by district to serve six-year terms)
elections: last held 7 December 2001 (next to be held NA December 2007)
election results:percent of vote by party or electoral alliance - UNP, SLMC and CWC 46.8%, PA and EPDP 38%, JVP 9.1%, Tamil National Alliance 3.89%, PLOTE 0.19%; seats by party or electoral alliance - UNP, SLMC and CWC 114, PA and EPDP 79, JVP 16, Tamil National Alliance 15, PLOTE 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission; Court of Appeals

Political parties and leaders: All Ceylon Tamil Congress or ACTC [KUMARGURUPARAM]; Ceylon Workers Congress or CWC [Arumugam THONDAMAN]; Communist Party or CP [D. GUNASEKERA]; Democratic United National (Lalith) Front or DUNLF [Shrimani ATULATHMUDALI]; Eelam People's Democratic Party or EPDP [Douglas DEVANANDA]; Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front or EPRLF [Suresh PREMACHANDRAN]; Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP [Tilvan SILVA]; National Unity Alliance or NUA [Ferial ASHRAFF]; People's Alliance or PA [Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA]; People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam or PLOTE [leader NA]; Sihala Urumaya or SU [Tilak KARUNARATNE]; Sri Lanka Freedom Party or SLFP [Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA]; Sri Lanka Muslim Congress or SLMC [Rauff HAKEEM]; Sri Lanka Progressive Front or SLPF [P. Nelson PERERA]; Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization or TELO [SABARATNAM]; Tamil National Alliance or TNA [Nadarajah RAVIRAJ]; Tamil United Liberation Front or TULF [R. SAMPATHAN]; United National Party or UNP [Ranil WICKREMASINGHE]; Upcountry People's Front or UPF [P. CHANDRASEKARAN]; several ethnic Tamil and Muslim parties, represented in either Parliament or provincial councils

Political pressure groups and leaders: Buddhist clergy; labor unions; Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE [Velupillai PRABHAKARAN](insurgent group fighting for a separate state); radical chauvinist Sinhalese groups such as the National Movement Against Terrorism; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups

International organization participation:AsDB, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAS (observer), OPCW, PCA, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Warnasena RASAPUTRAM
chancery : 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-4025 through 4028
FAX : [1] (202) 232-7181
consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador E. Ashley WILLS
embassy: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3
mailing address : P. O. Box 106, Colombo
telephone: [94] (1) 448007
FAX: [94] (1) 437345, 446013

Flag description: yellow with two panels; the smaller hoist-side panel has two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and orange; the other panel is a large dark red rectangle with a yellow lion holding a sword, and there is a yellow bo leaf in each corner; the yellow field appears as a border that goes around the entire flag and extends between the two panels


Economy - overview:In 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for market-oriented policies and export-oriented trade. Sri Lanka's most dynamic sectors now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. By 1996 plantation crops made up only 20% of exports (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for 63%. GDP grew at an average annual rate of 5.5% throughout the 1990s until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-2000 with average growth of 5.3%. But 2001 saw the first contraction in the country's history, due to a combination of power shortages, severe budgetary problems, the global slowdown, and continuing civil strife.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $62.7 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: -1% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $3,250 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 21%
industry: 27%
services :52% (2000)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 14.2% (2001 est.)

Labor force:
total:6.6 million (1998)
by occupation:services 45%, agriculture 38%, industry 17% (1998 est.)

Unemployment rate: 7.7% (2001)

revenues :$2.8 billion
expenditures: $4.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)

Industries: processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, and other agricultural commodities; clothing, cement, petroleum refining, textiles, tobacco

Industrial production growth rate: 1.4% (2001)

Electricity - capacity: 1.56 million kW (1994)

Electricity - production: 6.619 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 6.156 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, roots, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, meat

total value: $4.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
commodities: textiles and apparel 15%, tea, diamonds, coconut products, petroleum products
partners :US 39%, UK 13%, Middle East 8%, Germany 4%, Japan 4% (2000)

total value: $6 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
commodities:machinery and equipment, textiles, petroleum, foodstuffs
partners: Japan 9%, India 8%, Hong Kong 7%, Singapore 7%, South Korea 5% (2000)

Debt - external: $9.9 billion (2000)

Economic aid:
recipient : $577 million (1998)

Currency: 1 Sri Lankan rupee (LKR) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Sri Lankan rupees per US dollar - 93.383 (January 2002), 89.383 (2001), 77.005 (2000), 70.635 (1999), 64.450 (1998), 58.995 (1997)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 494,509 (1998

Telephone system: very inadequate domestic service, particularly in rural areas; likely improvement with privatization of national telephone company and encouragement to private investment; good international service (1999)
domestic: national trunk network consists mostly of digital microwave radio relay; fiber-optic links now in use in Colombo area and two fixed wireless local loops have been installed; competition is strong in mobile cellular systems; telephone density remains low at 2.6 main lines per 100 persons (1999)
international: submarine cables to Indonesia and Djibouti; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) submarine cables to Indonesia and Djibouti; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (1999)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 26, FM 45, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios: 3.85 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 21 (1997)

Televisions: 1.53 million (1997)


total: 1,463 km
broad gauge: 1,404 km 1.676-m gauge
narrow gauge: 59 km 0.762-m gauge (2001)

total: 11,285 km
paved: 10,721 km
unpaved:564 km (1998 est.)

Waterways: 430 km; navigable by shallow-draft craft

Pipelines: crude oil and petroleum products 62 km (1987)

Ports and harbors: Colombo, Galle, Jaffna, Trincomalee

Merchant marine:
total: 18 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 137,321 GRT/233,367 DWT
ships by type: bulk 1, cargo 15, container 1, petroleum tanker 1, includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Germany 9, Hong Kong 1, United Arab Emirates 1 (2002 est.)

Airports: 15 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001)


Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Police Force

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49:5,347,153 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males : 4,148,825 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males:193,522 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $719 million (FY98)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:4.2% (FY98)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

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