About  |   Contact  |  Mongabay on Facebook  |  Mongabay on Twitter  |  Subscribe
Rainforests | Tropical fish | Environmental news | For kids | Madagascar | Photos

Sri Lanka-Race, Religion, and Politics POLITICS AND SOCIETY





MONGABAY.COM
Mongabay.com seeks to raise interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife, while examining the impact of emerging trends in climate, technology, economics, and finance on conservation and development (more)







WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Email:


Sri Lanka Index

Like other nations in the South Asia region, Sri Lanka has a diverse population. Various communities profess four of the world's major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The major ethnic groups include not only the Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan Tamils, who compose 74 and 12.6 percent of the population, respectively, but also Indian Tamils (5.5 percent of the population) who view themselves as separate from the Sri Lankan Tamils, as well as "Moors" or Muslims (7.1 percent), "Burghers" and other people of mixed European and Sri Lankan descent (0.4 percent), Malays (0.4 percent), and tiny percentages of others including the aboriginal Veddahs, who are considered to be the island's original inhabitants (see People , ch. 2).

The society also possesses a caste system similar to that of India's. Caste in Sri Lanka is politically important for two reasons. First, members of the national political elite tend to be members of the higher status castes. Since independence the overwhelming majority of the prime ministers and the one president have been members of the Sinhalese Goyigama (cultivator) caste. Also, voters tend to support people of their own caste, though caste identification rarely becomes a campaign issue because electoral districts tend to be homogeneous in terms of caste and the major parties generally put up candidates of that caste.

Among Sinhalese, there is also a historically significant distinction between people who live in the coastal and lowland areas and those who live in the mountainous central part of the island, the area that constituted the Kingdom of Kandy before its conquest by the British in the early nineteenth century. During the British colonial period and to a lesser extent in independent Sri Lanka, the two groups, which possess somewhat different cultures and ways of life, frequently perceived their interests to be divergent. During the 1920s, for example, the Kandyan National Assembly advocated a federal state in which the Kandyan community would be guaranteed regional autonomy (see European Encroachment and Dominance, 1500-1948 , ch. 1).

Apart from religion, ethnicity, and caste, there are social differences that emerged as a result of British colonialism. Despite a history of popular support for Marxist parties, especially the Trotskyite Ceylon Equal Society Party (Lanka Sama Samaja Party--LSSP), economically based classes in the European sense are poorly developed in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, welldefined elite groups, including families with planter, merchant, and professional backgrounds, continued to be important in the late 1980s despite the redistributive policies of recent governments. Marks of their special status included not only wealth but education in the island's most prestigious schools or overseas, fluency in English, and a higher degree of Westernization than among other Sri Lankans. In a 1985 survey of government party parliamentarians since 1970, political scientist Robert Oberst discovered not only that there was a disproportionate number of graduates of a handful of elite schools among UNP and SLFP legislators, but also that elite secondary school graduates were more likely to assume ministerial posts and play a central role in the passage of bills than nonelite school graduates. Nonelite graduates tended to be backbenchers with limited influence.

In a society as diverse as Sri Lanka's, social divisions have had a direct and weighty impact on politics. In the late 1980s, the ethnically, linguistically, and religiously based antagonism of the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils overshadowed all other social divisions: the civil war that resulted, especially since mid-1983, seemed to bode a permanent division of the country. Yet in the routine operation of day-to-day politics, allegiances based on family, caste, or region also continued to be of major importance.

As in India, matters of religion, ethnicity, region, and language have become public rather than private issues. Persons have typically viewed personal advancement not only in terms of individual initiative but also in terms of the fortunes of their ethnic, caste, or religious community. In India, however, there are so many different groups, spread out over the country like a vast mosaic, that no single group has been strong enough to seriously destabilize the national-level political system. Dissident movements, such as the Sikh militants in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab have tended to be limited to a single region. India's ruling party, Congress (I), preserved national unity by forming electoral coalitions with disparate groups such as high-caste Hindus, Muslims, and untouchables and balancing them off against other groups loyal to opposition parties.

In Sri Lanka, however, both the nature of diversity and the attitude of the government have been different. Within the island's much smaller geographical area, politics have become polarized because the politically prominent groups are few in number and clearly defined in terms of language, custom, religion, and geographical region. Successive governments moreover, have never attempted to adopt an impartial role in relation to ethnic rivalries.

Concrete economic and social equity issues have played a major role in the ethnic antagonisms of Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan Tamils since independence. Ethnic rivalry, however, draws upon older and deeper roots. Each community views itself as possessing a unique and superior culture, based on religion, language, and race. The integrity of this culture is perceived to be threatened by the encroachments of the other group. Both Sinhalese and Tamils, occupying relatively well-defined geographical areas (the Sri Lankan Tamils in the Northern Province and parts of the Eastern Province, but with vulnerable enclaves in large cities; and the Sinhalese in the central and southern parts of the island), regard themselves as besieged minorities. The Sinhalese perceive themselves as the only group of "Aryans" and Buddhists in an overwhelmingly Dravidian and Hindu region (including the populous state of Tamil Nadu and other parts of southern India), while the Tamils see themselves as an endangered minority on the island itself. During the 1980s, this state of mutual paranoia, sharpened the ethnic boundaries of both groups and intensified economic and social conflicts.

Data as of October 1988

Race, Religion, and Politics

Like other nations in the South Asia region, Sri Lanka has a diverse population. Various communities profess four of the world's major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The major ethnic groups include not only the Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan Tamils, who compose 74 and 12.6 percent of the population, respectively, but also Indian Tamils (5.5 percent of the population) who view themselves as separate from the Sri Lankan Tamils, as well as "Moors" or Muslims (7.1 percent), "Burghers" and other people of mixed European and Sri Lankan descent (0.4 percent), Malays (0.4 percent), and tiny percentages of others including the aboriginal Veddahs, who are considered to be the island's original inhabitants (see People , ch. 2).

The society also possesses a caste system similar to that of India's. Caste in Sri Lanka is politically important for two reasons. First, members of the national political elite tend to be members of the higher status castes. Since independence the overwhelming majority of the prime ministers and the one president have been members of the Sinhalese Goyigama (cultivator) caste. Also, voters tend to support people of their own caste, though caste identification rarely becomes a campaign issue because electoral districts tend to be homogeneous in terms of caste and the major parties generally put up candidates of that caste.

Among Sinhalese, there is also a historically significant distinction between people who live in the coastal and lowland areas and those who live in the mountainous central part of the island, the area that constituted the Kingdom of Kandy before its conquest by the British in the early nineteenth century. During the British colonial period and to a lesser extent in independent Sri Lanka, the two groups, which possess somewhat different cultures and ways of life, frequently perceived their interests to be divergent. During the 1920s, for example, the Kandyan National Assembly advocated a federal state in which the Kandyan community would be guaranteed regional autonomy (see European Encroachment and Dominance, 1500-1948 , ch. 1).

Apart from religion, ethnicity, and caste, there are social differences that emerged as a result of British colonialism. Despite a history of popular support for Marxist parties, especially the Trotskyite Ceylon Equal Society Party (Lanka Sama Samaja Party--LSSP), economically based classes in the European sense are poorly developed in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, welldefined elite groups, including families with planter, merchant, and professional backgrounds, continued to be important in the late 1980s despite the redistributive policies of recent governments. Marks of their special status included not only wealth but education in the island's most prestigious schools or overseas, fluency in English, and a higher degree of Westernization than among other Sri Lankans. In a 1985 survey of government party parliamentarians since 1970, political scientist Robert Oberst discovered not only that there was a disproportionate number of graduates of a handful of elite schools among UNP and SLFP legislators, but also that elite secondary school graduates were more likely to assume ministerial posts and play a central role in the passage of bills than nonelite school graduates. Nonelite graduates tended to be backbenchers with limited influence.

In a society as diverse as Sri Lanka's, social divisions have had a direct and weighty impact on politics. In the late 1980s, the ethnically, linguistically, and religiously based antagonism of the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils overshadowed all other social divisions: the civil war that resulted, especially since mid-1983, seemed to bode a permanent division of the country. Yet in the routine operation of day-to-day politics, allegiances based on family, caste, or region also continued to be of major importance.

As in India, matters of religion, ethnicity, region, and language have become public rather than private issues. Persons have typically viewed personal advancement not only in terms of individual initiative but also in terms of the fortunes of their ethnic, caste, or religious community. In India, however, there are so many different groups, spread out over the country like a vast mosaic, that no single group has been strong enough to seriously destabilize the national-level political system. Dissident movements, such as the Sikh militants in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab have tended to be limited to a single region. India's ruling party, Congress (I), preserved national unity by forming electoral coalitions with disparate groups such as high-caste Hindus, Muslims, and untouchables and balancing them off against other groups loyal to opposition parties.

In Sri Lanka, however, both the nature of diversity and the attitude of the government have been different. Within the island's much smaller geographical area, politics have become polarized because the politically prominent groups are few in number and clearly defined in terms of language, custom, religion, and geographical region. Successive governments moreover, have never attempted to adopt an impartial role in relation to ethnic rivalries.

Concrete economic and social equity issues have played a major role in the ethnic antagonisms of Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan Tamils since independence. Ethnic rivalry, however, draws upon older and deeper roots. Each community views itself as possessing a unique and superior culture, based on religion, language, and race. The integrity of this culture is perceived to be threatened by the encroachments of the other group. Both Sinhalese and Tamils, occupying relatively well-defined geographical areas (the Sri Lankan Tamils in the Northern Province and parts of the Eastern Province, but with vulnerable enclaves in large cities; and the Sinhalese in the central and southern parts of the island), regard themselves as besieged minorities. The Sinhalese perceive themselves as the only group of "Aryans" and Buddhists in an overwhelmingly Dravidian and Hindu region (including the populous state of Tamil Nadu and other parts of southern India), while the Tamils see themselves as an endangered minority on the island itself. During the 1980s, this state of mutual paranoia, sharpened the ethnic boundaries of both groups and intensified economic and social conflicts.

Data as of October 1988



BackgroundThe first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C. probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced in about the mid-third century B.C., and a great civilization developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (kingdom from circa 200 B.C. to circa A.D. 1000) and Polonnaruwa (from about 1070 to 1200). In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty established a Tamil kingdom in northern Sri Lanka. The coastal areas of the island were controlled by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century. The island was ceded to the British in 1796, became a crown colony in 1802, and was united under British rule by 1815. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. Tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted into war in 1983. After two decades of fighting, the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formalized a cease-fire in February 2002 with Norway brokering peace negotiations. Violence between the LTTE and government forces intensified in 2006 and the government regained control of the Eastern Province in 2007. In May 2009, the government announced that its military had finally defeated the remnants of the LTTE and that its leader, Velupillai PRABHAKARAN, had been killed.
LocationSouthern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India
Area(sq km)total: 65,610 sq km
land: 64,630 sq km
water: 980 sq km
Geographic coordinates7 00 N, 81 00 E
Land boundaries(km)0 km

Coastline(km)1,340 km

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

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m
Natural resourceslimestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower
Land use(%)arable land: 13.96%
permanent crops: 15.24%
other: 70.8% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)7,430 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)50 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 12.61 cu km/yr (2%/2%/95%)
per capita: 608 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsoccasional cyclones and tornadoes
Environment - current issuesdeforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching and urbanization; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff; waste disposal; air pollution in Colombo
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - notestrategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes
Population21,324,791
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 and more than 200,000 Tamils have sought refuge in the West (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 23.9% (male 2,594,815/female 2,493,002)
15-64 years: 68% (male 7,089,307/female 7,418,123)
65 years and over: 8.1% (male 803,172/female 926,372) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 30.9 years
male: 29.9 years
female: 31.8 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)0.904% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)16.26 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)6.13 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-1.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 15% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 18.57 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 20.33 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 75.14 years
male: 73.08 years
female: 77.28 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)1.99 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Sri Lankan(s)
adjective: Sri Lankan
Ethnic groups(%)Sinhalese 73.8%, Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%, Indian Tamil 4.6%, Sri Lankan Tamil 3.9%, other 0.5%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)

Religions(%)Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)
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

Country nameconventional long form: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
conventional short form: Sri Lanka
local long form: Shri Lamka Prajatantrika Samajaya di Janarajaya/Ilankai Jananayaka Choshalichak Kutiyarachu
local short form: Shri Lamka/Ilankai
former: Serendib, Ceylon
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Colombo
geographic coordinates: 6 56 N, 79 51 E
time difference: UTC+5.5 (10.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (legislative capital)
Administrative divisions8 provinces; Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western
note: in October 2006, a Sri Lankan Supreme Court ruling voided a presidential directive merging the North and Eastern Provinces; a parliamentary decision on the issue is pending
Constitutionadopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978; amended 20 December 2000

Legal systema highly complex mixture of English common law, Roman-Dutch, Kandyan, and Jaffna Tamil law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA (since 19 November 2005); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government; Ratnasiri WICKREMANAYAKE (since 21 November 2005) holds the largely ceremonial title of prime minister
head of government: President Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA (since 19 November 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 17 November 2005 (next scheduled for 26 January 2010)
election results: Mahinda RAJAPAKSA elected president; percent of vote - Mahinda RAJAPAKSA 50.3%, Ranil WICKREMESINGHE 48.4%, other 1.3%

Legislative branchunicameral Parliament (225 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of an open-list, proportional representation system by electoral district to serve six-year terms)
elections: last held on 2 April 2004 (next to be held by April 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party or electoral alliance - SLFP and JVP (no longer in United People's Freedom Alliance) 45.6%, UNP 37.8%, TNA 6.8%, JHU 6%, SLMC 2%, UPF 0.5%, EPDP 0.3%, other 1%; seats by party - UNP 68, SLFP 57, JVP 39, TNA 22, CWC 8, JHU 7, SLMC 6, SLMC dissidents 4, Communist Party 2, JHU dissidents 2, LSSP 2, MEP 2, NUA 2, UPF 2, EPDP 1, UNP dissident 1

Judicial branchSupreme Court; Court of Appeals; judges for both courts are appointed by the president

Political pressure groups and leadersLiberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE [P. SIVAPARAN, Chief of International Secretariat; V. RUDRAKUMARAN, legal advisor]; note - this insurgent group suffered military defeat in May 2009; some cadres remain scattered throughout country;
other: Buddhist clergy; labor unions; radical chauvinist Sinhalese groups such as the National Movement Against Terrorism; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups
International organization participationADB, ARF, BIMSTEC, C, CP, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NAM, OAS (observer), OPCW, PCA, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIS, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionyellow 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 around the entire flag and extends between the two panels

Economy - overviewIn 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for more market-oriented policies, export-oriented trade, and encouragement of foreign investment. Recent changes in government, however, have brought some policy reversals. Currently, the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party has a more statist economic approach, which seeks to reduce poverty by steering investment to disadvantaged areas, developing small and medium enterprises, promoting agriculture, and expanding the already enormous civil service. The government has halted privatizations. Although suffering a brutal civil war that began in 1983, Sri Lanka saw GDP growth average 4.5% in the last 10 years with the exception of a recession in 2001. In late December 2004, a major tsunami took about 31,000 lives, left more than 6,300 missing and 443,000 displaced, and destroyed an estimated $1.5 billion worth of property. Government spending on development and fighting the LTTE drove GDP growth to about 7% per year in 2006-07 before the global recession slow growth in 2008, but high government spending and high oil and commodity prices also raised inflation to around 15% in 2008. Sri Lanka's most dynamic sectors now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, port construction, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. In 2008, plantation crops made up only about 20% of exports (compared with more than 90% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for more than 40%. About 1.5 million Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% of them in the Middle East. They send home more than $2.5 billion a year. The 25-year civil conflict between LTTE and the government of Sri Lanka has been a serious impediment to economic activities. By mid February 2009, the LTTE remained in control of small and shrinking area in the North. The conflict continues to cast a shadow over the economy.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$92.09 billion (2008 est.)
$86.88 billion (2007 est.)
$81.35 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$39.6 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)6% (2008 est.)
6.8% (2007 est.)
7.7% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$4,400 (2008 est.)
$4,200 (2007 est.)
$3,900 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 13.4%
industry: 29.4%
services: 57.3% (2008 est.)
Labor force7.569 million
note: excludes northern and eastern provinces (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 34.7%
industry: 26.1%
services: 39.2% (30 September 2008 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)5.2% (2008 est.)
6% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)22% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 1.1%
highest 10%: 39.7% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index49 (2004)
34.4 (1995)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)24.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $7.8 billion
expenditures: $11 billion (2009 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)22.6% (2008 est.)
15.8% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$2.55 billion (30 September 2008)
$2.465 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$9.01 billion (30 September 2008)
$10.46 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$15.92 billion (30 September 2008)
$14.82 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$4.326 billion (31 December 2008)
$7.553 billion (31 December 2007)
$7.769 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$1.189 billion (2005)

Public debt(% of GDP)76.7% of GDP (2008 est.)
104.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productsrice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish
Industriesprocessing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining, information technology services

Industrial production growth rate(%)5.9% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$3.876 billion (2008 est.)
-$1.464 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$8.137 billion (2008 est.)
$7.741 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)textiles and apparel, tea and spices; diamonds, emeralds, rubies; coconut products, rubber manufactures, fish
Exports - partners(%)US 21.6%, UK 11.9%, India 6.8%, Germany 5.1%, Belgium 4.8%, Italy 4.7% (2008)
Imports$12.61 billion (2008 est.)
$10.17 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)textile fabrics, mineral products, petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery and transportation equipment
Imports - partners(%)India 20.3%, China 12.2%, Iran 7.6%, Singapore 7.4%, South Korea 4.7% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.655 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$3.644 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$16.78 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$12.2 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$250.2 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesSri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar - 108.33 (2008), 110.78 (2007), 103.99 (2006), 100.498 (2005), 101.194 (2004)

Currency (code)Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)

Telephones - main lines in use3.446 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular11.082 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: telephone services have improved significantly and are available in most parts of the country
domestic: national trunk network consists mostly of digital microwave radio relay; fiber-optic links now in use in Colombo area and fixed wireless local loops have been installed; competition is strong in mobile cellular systems and mobile cellular subscribership is increasing
international: country code - 94; the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cables provide connectivity to Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe, US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
Internet country code.lk
Internet users1.164 million (2008)
Airports18 (2009)
Roadways(km)total: 97,286 km
paved: 78,802 km
unpaved: 18,484 km (2003)

Ports and terminalsColombo
Military branchesSri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for voluntary military service; 5-year service obligation (2007)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 5,458,720
females age 16-49: 5,594,006 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 4,498,667
females age 16-49: 4,693,895 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 173,256
female: 167,645 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)2.6% of GDP (2006)
Disputes - internationalnone

Refugees and internally displaced personsIDPs: 460,000 (both Tamils and non-Tamils displaced due to long-term civil war between the government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)) (2007)
Trafficking in personscurrent situation: Sri Lanka is a source and destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation; Sri Lankan men and women migrate willingly to the Persian Gulf, Middle East, and East Asia to work as construction workers, domestic servants, or garment factory workers, where some find themselves in situations of involuntary servitude when faced with restrictions on movement, withholding of passports, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and debt bondage; children are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation and, less frequently, for forced labor
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - for a second consecutive year, Sri Lanka is on the Tier 2 Watch List for failing to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of human trafficking, particularly in the area of law enforcement; the government failed to arrest, prosecute, or convict any person for trafficking offenses and continued to punish some victims of trafficking for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked; Sri Lanka has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)
Electricity - production(kWh)9.507 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 51.7%
hydro: 48.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)7.946 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)89,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)968.4 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)87,690 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS3,800 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 200 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and chikungunya
water contact disease: leptospirosis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.7%
male: 92.3%
female: 89.1% (2001 census)

Education expenditures(% of GDP)NA








Copyright mongabay 2000-2013