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Sri Lanka-The Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms





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Sri Lanka Index

In 1829 the British Colonial Office sent a Royal Commission of Eastern Inquiry--the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission--to assess the administration of the island. The legal and economic proposals made by the commission in 1833 were innovative and radical. The proposed reforms opposed mercantilism, state monopolies, discriminatory administrative regulations, and, in general, any interference in the economy. Many of the proposals were adopted and helped set a pattern of administrative, economic, judicial, and educational development that continued into the next century.

The commission worked to end the protested administrative division of the country along ethnic and cultural lines into lowcountry Sinhalese, Kandyan Sinhalese, and Tamil areas. The commission proposed instead that the country be put under one uniform administrative system, which was to be divided into five provinces. Colebrooke believed that in the past, separate administrative systems had encouraged social and cultural divisions, and that the first step toward the creation of a modern nation was the administrative unification of the country. Cameron applied the same principle to the judicial system, which he proposed be unified into one system and be extended to all classes of people, offering everyone equal rights in the eyes of the law. His recommendations were adopted and enforced under the Charter of Justice in 1833.

The commissioners also favored the decentralization of executive power in the government. They stripped away many of the autocratic powers vested in the governor, replacing his advisory council with an Executive Council, which included both official and unofficial nominees. The Executive Council appointed the members of the Legislative Council, which functioned as a forum for discussion of legislative matters. The Legislative Council placed special emphasis on Sri Lankan membership, and in 1833 three of the fifteen members were Sri Lankans. The governor nominated them to represent low-country Sinhalese, Burghers, and Tamils, respectively. The commissioners also voted to change the exclusively British character of the administrative services and recommended that the civil service include local citizens. These proposed constitutional reforms were revolutionary--far more liberal than the legal systems of any other European colony.

The opening of the Ceylon Civil Service to Sri Lankans required that a new emphasis be placed on English education. In time, the opening contributed to the creation of a Westernized elite, whose members would spearhead the drive for independence in the twentieth century. The Colebrooke-Cameron Commission emphasized the standardization of educational curriculum and advocated the substitution of English for local languages. Local English schools were established, and the missionary schools that had previously taught in the vernacular also adopted English.

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








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