Sri Lanka Map

Introduction   People   History   Culture   Life   Land   Animal   Economy   Language   Politics   Government   Education   Defence   Time   Currency   Legal   Communications  Legal system Organization   Provinces   Disputes  
Sri Lanka    Introduction Back to Top

Sri Lanka, officially Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, island republic in the Indian Ocean off the south-eastern coast of India, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Sri Lanka is separated from India by the Palk Strait and Gulf of Mannar. Lying between the two nations is a chain of tiny islands known as Adam's Bridge. Sri Lanka is somewhat pear-shaped, with its apex in the north. The greatest length from north to south is about 440 km (273 mi); the greatest width is about 220 km (137 mi). The total area of Sri Lanka is 65,610 sq km (25,326 sq mi). The capital of Sri Lanka is the ancient city of Sri Jayavardhanapura- Kotte ; Colombo is the largest city.

Official Name - Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Capital - Sri Jayavardhanapura 109,000 (1990)
Population - 18,318,000 (1996)
Life Expectancy - 71 years for men 75 years for women
Area - 65,610 sq km (25,326 sq mi)
Largest Cities - Colombo 615,000 Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia 196,000
Languages - Sinhalese; Tamil; English
Religions - Buddhism; Hinduism; Islam; Christianity
Currency - Sri Lankan rupee
Government - Unicameral republic
Sri Lanka    Provinces Back to Top

8 provinces; Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western; note - North Eastern province may have been divided in two - Northern and Eastern

Sri Lanka    People Back to Top

Ethnic, religious, and linguistic distinctions in Sri Lanka are essentially the same. Three ethnic groups—Sinhalese, Tamil, and Muslim—make up more than 99 percent of the country's population, with the Sinhalese alone accounting for nearly three-fourths of the people. The Tamil segment comprises two groups—Sri Lankan Tamils (long-settled descendants from southeastern India) and Indian Tamils (recent immigrants from southeastern India, most of whom were migrant workers brought to Sri Lanka under British rule). Slightly more than one-eighth of the total population belongs to the former group. Muslims, who trace their origin back to Arab traders of the 8th century, account for about 7.5 percent of the population. Burghers (a community of mixed European descent), Parsis (immigrants from western India), and Veddas (regarded as the aboriginal inhabitants of the country) total less than 1 percent of the population.

The Sinhalese constitute the majority in the southern, western, central, and north-central parts of the country. In the rural areas of the Wet Zone lowlands, they account for more than 95 percent of the population. The foremost concentration of the Sri Lankan Tamils lies in the Jaffna Peninsula and in the adjacent districts of the northern lowlands. Smaller agglomerations of this group are also found along the eastern littoral where their settlements are juxtaposed with those of the Muslims. The main Muslim concentrations occur in the eastern lowlands. In other areas, such as Colombo, Kandy, Puttalam, and Gampaha, Muslims form a small but important segment of the urban and suburban population. The Indian Tamils, the vast majority of whom are plantation workers, live in large numbers in the higher areas of the Central Highlands.

Sri Lanka    History Back to Top

According to Hindu legend the greater part of Sri Lanka was conquered in prehistoric times by Ramachandra, the seventh incarnation of the supreme deity Vishnu. The written history of the country begins with the chronicle known as the Mahavamsa. This work was started in the 6th century ad and provides a virtually unbroken narrative up to 1815. The Mahavamsa was compiled by a succession of Buddhist monks. Because it often aims to glorify or to degrade certain periods or reigns, it is not a wholly reliable source despite its wealth of historical material.

Sri Lanka has had a continuous record of settled and civilized life for more than two millennia. The content and direction of this civilization has been shaped by that of the Indian subcontinent. The island's two major ethnic groups, the Sinhalese and the Tamils, and its two dominant religious cultures, Buddhist and Hindu, made their way onto the island from India. The various expressions of literate culture parallel those of India, and overall the culture and civilization of Sri Lanka are of the Indic pattern.

The Mahavamsa relates that the island was conquered in 504 bc by Vijaya, a Hindu prince from northeast India. After subjugating the aboriginal inhabitants, a people now known as Veddas, Vijaya married a native princess, encouraged emigration from the mainland, and made himself ruler of the entire island. However, the realm (called Sinhala after Vijaya’s patrimonial name) that was inherited by his successors consisted of the arid region lying to the north of the south central mountain system.

Sri Lanka    Culture Back to Top

Sri Lanka is a land of great cultural diversity. Religion pervades many aspects of life and constitutes a basic element of this diversity. Buddhist and Hindu temples, as well as mosques and churches, with their own colourful rituals, are the most readily visible features of the cultural landscape. Varying degrees of colonial impact, modernizing influences, and wealth and income add other shades to the cultural mosaic.

Religion plays an important role in Sri Lanka; a revival of Buddhism was associated with the rise of Sinhalese nationalism. Most public holidays are based on religious festivals. The annual torchlight temple procession, or Perahara, in which ornamentally covered elephants and hundreds of dancers participate, draws thousands of devotees. Pilgrimages also play an important role here. The most important pilgrimage is to the top of Adams Peak. Muslims believe that Adam and Eve lived here after they left the Garden of Eden. Buddhists visit a rock on the peak that they believe contains one of Buddha’s footprints. Another important pilgrimage is to the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, where it is believed that one of Buddha’s teeth is enshrined.

In architecture, sculpture, and painting, Sri Lanka's traditions extend far back into antiquity. The remnants of ancient works restored and preserved at archaeological sites, while reflecting Indian influences, also bear testimony to the inspiration derived from Buddhism. Classical literature, too, presents a blend of stylistic influences from India with Buddhist themes. Since the beginning of the 20th century, with the literati being exposed to European literature, local creative writing has acquired greater diversity in style and has become more secular in content.

Sri Lanka    Life Back to Top

74 percent of the population of Sri Lanka is of Sinhalese descent. The largest minority groups are the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils, which together account for about 18 percent of the population. The remaining population includes the descendants of Moors (Arabs), Burghers (Dutch), Malays, and Veddas.

Sri Lanka    Land Back to Top

A roughly triangular mountainous area known as the Central Highlands occupies the south-central region of Sri Lanka and is the heart of the country. This highland mass is surrounded by a diverse plain, the general elevation of which ranges from sea level to about 1,000 feet (300 metres). This plain accounts for about five-sixths of the country's total area. The Central Highlands have a highly dissected terrain consisting of a unique arrangement of plateaus, ridges, escarpments, intermontane basins, and valleys. Sri Lanka's highest mountains—Pidurutalagala at 8,281 feet (2,524 metres), Kirigalpotta (7,858 feet), and Adam's Peak (Sri Pada; 7,559 feet)—are found in this area. The highlands, except on their western and southwestern flanks, are sharply defined by a series of escarpments, the most spectacular being the so-called World's End, a near-vertical precipice of about 4,000 feet.

Sri Lanka    Plants and Animal Back to Top

The animal life of Sri Lanka is diverse and includes many species that may be in danger of extinction, such as the cheetah, leopard, several species of monkey, and elephant. The island also contains numerous species of birds and reptiles.

Sri Lanka    Economy Back to Top

Sri Lanka’s economy is predominantly based on agriculture. Most of the people are subsistence farmers, who make a living by growing rice on their small plots. A large export trade in tea, rubber, and coconuts is the dominant commercial activity; most businesses engaged in producing these goods were nationalized in the middle and late 1970s. The government also controlled banking and insurance, as well as mining and the manufacture of such basic goods as fertilizers, textiles, cement, and petroleum. Consumer goods manufacturing and retail businesses remained in private hands. In the late 1970s the government launched a new program to accelerate economic growth that included the elimination of various state monopolies to allow for more private-sector competition; in the mid-1980s the government sought to promote foreign investment in export-oriented industries. Beginning in the late 1980s ethnic violence strained Sri Lanka’s economy. Renewed attempts to privatize the economy, particularly the agricultural industry, began in the 1990s.

The economy that evolved in Sri Lanka under British rule consisted of a modern sector, the main component being plantation agriculture, and a traditional sector comprising subsistence agriculture. Manufacturing was an insignificant segment of the economy. Banking and commerce were, for the most part, ancillary to plantation agriculture. Nearly all foreign earnings were derived from the three staple plantation crops—tea, rubber, and coconut. The country depended on imports for nearly three-fourths of its food requirements and almost all of its manufactured goods.

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 annual average 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 1997-98 with growth of 6.4% and 4.7% - but slowed to 4.3% in 1999. Growth increased to 5.6% in 2000, with growth in tourism and exports leading the way. But a resurgence of civil war between the Sinhalese and the minority Tamils and a possible slowdown in tourism dampen prospects for 2001. For the next round of reforms, the central bank of Sri Lanka recommends that Colombo expand market mechanisms in nonplantation agriculture, dismantle the government's monopoly on wheat imports, and promote more competition in the financial sector.

Sri Lanka    Communications Back to Top

general assessment: very inadequate domestic service, particularly in rural areas; some hope for 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) (1999)

Sri Lanka    Languages Back to Top

The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala, or Sinhalese, and Tamil. Sinhala is spoken by 74 percent of the population. Tamil, a Dravidian language of southern India, is spoken by people living in the northern and eastern provinces. English, the official language of the country until 1957, is still widely used.

Sri Lanka    Politics Back to Top

All Ceylon Tamil Congress or ACTC [Nalliah GURUPAUAN]; Ceylon Workers Congress or CLDC [Arumugam THONDAMAN]; Communist Party [Raja COLLURE]; Democratic United National (Lalith) Front or DUNLF [Srimani ATHULATHMUDALI]; Eelam People's Democratic Party or EPDP [Douglas DEVANANDA]; Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front or EPRLF [Suresh PREMACHANDRA]; Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP [Tilvan SILVA]; National Unity Alliance or NUA [leader NA]; People's Alliance or PA [Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA]; People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam or PLOTE [D. SIDDATHAN]; Sihala Urumaya or SU [leader NA]; Sri Lanka Freedom Party or SLFP [Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA]; Sri Lanka Muslim Congress or SLMC [Rauff HAKEEM and Ferial ASHRAFF]; Sri Lanka Progressive Front or SLPF [leader NA]; Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization or TELO [SUBRAMANIUM]; 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 (insurgent group fighting for a separate state); radical chauvinist Sinhalese groups such as the National Movement Against Terrorism; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups

Sri Lanka    Government Back to Top

Sri Lanka is an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations, governed under a constitution adopted in 1978.

Sri Lanka    Legal Back to Top

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 - Ratnasiri WICKRAMANAYAKE (since 10 August 2000) is the prime minister; in Sri Lanka the president is considered to be both the chief of state and the head of the government, this is 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 - Ratnasiri WICKRAMANAYAKE (since 10 August 2000) is the prime minister; in Sri Lanka the president is considered to be both the chief of state and the head of the government, this is 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 10 October 2000 (next to be held NA October 2006) election results: percent of vote by party - PA 45.11%, UNP 40.22%, JVP 6%, NUA 2.29%, SU 1.48%, TULF 1.23%, other 3.67%; seats by party - PA 107, UNP 89, JVP 10, TULF 5, EPDP 4, NUA 4, TELO 3, ACTC 1, SU 1, independent 1 Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Court of Appeals; judges for both courts are appointed by the president

Sri Lanka    organization Back to Top
International organization Member


Sri Lanka    Education Back to Top

In Sri Lanka schooling is compulsory for children from 5 to 14 years of age, and it is free at all levels. In 1996 Sri Lanka had 9,554 elementary schools, of which most were government institutions. There are about 30 technical institutions and 9 universities. The University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Colombo, founded as the University of Ceylon in 1942 and renamed in 1978, is one of the country’s major institutions of higher education.

Sri Lanka    Defence Back to Top

Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Police Force
Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 5,304,323 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 4,119,511 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 193,522 (2001 est.)

Sri Lanka    International Disputes Back to Top


Sri Lanka    Time Back to Top
Live Time and Date ( Click Here )

Sri Lanka    Currency and General Information Back to Top
Sri Lanka Rupees United States Dollars
1.00 LKR 0.0104259 USD
95.9150 LKR 1 USD

Countries Currency Unit USD/Unit Units/USD
DZD Algeria Dinars 0.0129554 77.1877
USD United States Dollars 1.00000 1.00000
ARS Argentina Pesos 0.341293 2.93004
AUD Australia Dollars 0.533413 1.87472
ATS Austria Schillings ** 0.0632609 15.8076
BSD Bahamas Dollars 1.00000 1.00000
BBD Barbados Dollars 0.502513 1.99000
BEF Belgium Francs ** 0.0215788 46.3417
BMD Bermuda Dollars 1.00000 1.00000
BRL Brazil Reals 0.430318 2.32386
GBP United Kingdom Pounds 1.42399 0.702251
BGL Bulgaria Leva 0.447293 2.23567
CAD Canada Dollars 0.627606 1.59336
CLP Chile Pesos 0.00152392 656.202
CNY China Yuan Renminbi 0.120813 8.27726
CYP Cyprus Pounds 1.49883 0.667186
CZK Czech Republic Koruny 0.0281883 35.4758
DKK Denmark Kroner 0.117155 8.53568
XCD East Caribbean Dollars 0.370370 2.70000
EGP Egypt Pounds 0.217271 4.60255
EUR Euro 0.870489 1.14878
FJD Fiji Dollars 0.447227 2.23600
FIM Finland Markkaa ** 0.146406 6.83034
FRF France Francs ** 0.132705 7.53550
DEM Germany Deutsche Marks ** 0.445074 2.24682
XAU Gold Ounces 301.977 0.00331151
GRD Greece Drachmae ** 0.00255463 391.447
HKD Hong Kong Dollars 0.128215 7.79939
HUF Hungary Forint 0.00358416 279.006
ISK Iceland Kronur 0.00999868 100.013
INR India Rupees 0.0205205 48.7319
IDR Indonesia Rupiahs 0.000102055 9,798.61
IEP Ireland Pounds ** 1.10529 0.904738
ILS Israel New Shekels 0.212386 4.70841
ITL Italy Lire ** 0.000449570 2,224.35
JMD Jamaica Dollars 0.0210041 47.6099
JPY Japan Yen 0.00754183 132.594
JOD Jordan Dinars 1.41057 0.708931
LBP Lebanon Pounds 0.000660937 1,513.00
LUF Luxembourg Francs ** 0.0215788 46.3417
MYR Malaysia Ringgits 0.263330 3.79751
MXN Mexico Pesos 0.111007 9.00848
NZD New Zealand Dollars 0.440474 2.27028
NOK Norway Kroner 0.113022 8.84780
NLG Netherlands Guilders ** 0.395011 2.53158
PKR Pakistan Rupees 0.0166945 59.9000
PHP Philippines Pesos 0.0196386 50.9202
XPT Platinum Ounces 510.962 0.00195709
PLN Poland Zlotych 0.243488 4.10699
PTE Portugal Escudos ** 0.00434198 230.310
ROL Romania Lei 0.0000303433 32,956.21
RUR Russia Rubles 0.0321342 31.1195
SAR Saudi Arabia Riyals 0.266668 3.74998
XAG Silver Ounces 4.65692 0.214734
SGD Singapore Dollars 0.542540 1.84318
SKK Slovakia Koruny 0.0208441 47.9751
ZAR South Africa Rand 0.0883340 11.3207
KRW South Korea Won 0.000759354 1,316.91
ESP Spain Pesetas ** 0.00523174 191.141
XDR IMF Special Drawing Rights 1.24862 0.800882
SDD Sudan Dinars 0.00384615 260.000
SEK Sweden Kronor 0.0964189 10.3714
CHF Switzerland Francs 0.593789 1.68410
TWD Taiwan New Dollars 0.0286531 34.9002
THB Thailand Baht 0.0230087 43.4619
TTD Trinidad and Tobago Dollars 0.163399 6.12000
TRL Turkey Liras 0.000000763622 1,309,549.07
VEB Venezuela Bolivares 0.00108696 920.000
ZMK Zambia Kwacha 0.000239866 4,169.00

Sri Lanka : Geographic coordinates 7 00 N, 81 00 E
Sri Lanka : Population growth rate 0.87%
Sri Lanka : Birth rate 16.58 births/1,000 population
Sri Lanka : Death rate 6.43 deaths/1,000 population
Sri Lanka : People living with HIV/AIDS 7,500
Sri Lanka : Independence 4 February 1948
Sri Lanka : National holiday Independence Day, 4 February
Sri Lanka : Constitution 16 August 1978
Sri Lanka : GDP purchasing power parity - $62.7 billion
Sri Lanka : GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $3,250
Sri Lanka : Electricity - consumption 5.604 billion kWh
Sri Lanka : Exports $5.2 billion textiles and apparel, tea, diamonds, coconut products, petroleum products
Sri Lanka : Imports $6.1 billion machinery and equipment, textiles, petroleum, foodstuffs
Sri Lanka : Telephones 494,509
Sri Lanka : Mobile cellular 228,604
Sri Lanka : Radio broadcast stations AM 26, FM 45, shortwave 1
Sri Lanka : Radios 3.85 million
Sri Lanka : Television broadcast stations 21
Sri Lanka : Televisions 1.53 million
Sri Lanka : Internet country code .lk
Sri Lanka : Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 5
Sri Lanka : Internet users 65,000
Sri Lanka : Railways 1,463 km
Sri Lanka : Highways 11,285 km
Sri Lanka : Waterways 430 km
Sri Lanka : Pipelines crude oil and petroleum products 62 km
Sri Lanka : Ports and harbors Colombo, Galle, Jaffna, Trincomalee
Sri Lanka : Merchant marine 20 ships
Sri Lanka : Airports 14
Sri Lanka : Heliports N/A
Sri Lanka : Military branches Army, Navy, Air Force, Police Force
Sri Lanka : Military expenditures $719 million