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About Sri Lanka

  • Introduction

    The 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 formally united under British rule by 1815. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948,although it remained under dominion status.Its 1972 constitution proclaimed it an independent republic, and changed the country’s name. Finally, in 1978, a new constitution officially declared the island the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

    SRI LANKA has often been described as a tropical paradise. The vegetation of the coastal belt is lush and dramatic, and the mountainous areas of the interior are spectacular. Pleasant sea breezes temper the coast’s tropical climate through most of the year; the hills and mountains in the island’s center are cool at night. Arab traders of long ago knew the island as Serendib, which is the origin of the word serendipity, reflecting the unexpected pleasures of the land.

  • Geography

    Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India
    Geographic coordinates:7 00 N, 81 00 E
    Area:total: 65,610 sq km,
    land: 64,630 sq km,
    water: 980 sq km,
    Coastline:1,340 km
    Climate:tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
    Sri Lanka is 5 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Median Time)
  • Government

    Government type:republic
    conventional long form: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
    conventional short form: Sri Lanka
    former: Serendib, Ceylon
    Independence:4 February 1948 (from the UK)
    Executive branch:chief of state: President Maithripala SIRISENA (since 9 January 2015); note – the president is both chief of state and head of government; Ranil WICKREMESINGHE (since 9 January 2015) holds the title of prime minister
    head of government: President Maithripala SIRISENA (since 9 January 2015)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister
    elections: president elected by popular vote for a 6-year term, but can call an election after 4 years; eligible for unlimited terms; election last held on 8 January 2015 (next to be held by January 2021)
    election results: Maithripala SIRISENA elected president; percent of vote – Maithripala SIRISENA (National Democratic Front)) 51.3%, Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA (Sri Lanka Freedom Party) 47.6%
    Flag description:yellow with two panels; the smaller hoist-side panel has two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and orange; the other larger panel depicts a yellow lion holding a sword on a maroon rectangular field that also displays a yellow bo leaf in each corner; the yellow field appears as a border around the entire flag and extends between the two panels; the lion represents Sinhalese ethnicity, the strength of the nation, and bravery; the sword demonstrates the sovereignty of the nation; the four bo leaves – symbolizing Buddhism and its influence on the country – stand for the four virtues of kindness, friendliness, happiness, and equanimity; orange signifies Sri Lankan Tamils, green Sri Lankan Moors, and maroon the Sinhalese majority; yellow denotes other ethnic groups; also referred to as the Lion Flag
    National symbol(s):lion, water lily; national colors: maroon, yellow
    National anthem:name: “Sri Lanka Matha” (Mother Sri Lanka)
    lyrics/music: Ananda SAMARKONE
    note: adopted 1951
  • Economy

    Economy – overview:
    Sri Lanka continues to experience strong economic growth following the end of the 26-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The government has been pursuing large-scale reconstruction and development projects in its efforts to spur growth in war-torn and disadvantaged areas, develop small and medium enterprises and increase agricultural productivity. The government’s high debt payments and bloated civil service have contributed to historically high budget deficits, but fiscal consolidation efforts and strong GDP growth in recent years have helped bring down the government’s fiscal deficit. However, low tax revenues are a major concern. The 2008-09 global financial crisis and recession exposed Sri Lanka’s economic vulnerabilities and nearly caused a balance of payments crisis. Agriculture slowed due to a drought and weak global demand affected exports and trade. In early 2012, Sri Lanka floated the rupee, resulting in a sharp depreciation, and took steps to curb imports. A large trade deficit remains a concern, but strong remittances from Sri Lankan workers abroad help offset the trade deficit. Government debt of about 80% of GDP remains among the highest in emerging markets.
    GDP (purchasing power parity):
    $217.1 billion (2014 est.)
    $202.9 billion (2013 est.)
    $189.1 billion (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 63
    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $71.57 billion (2014 est.)
    GDP – real growth rate:
    7% (2014 est.)
    7.3% (2013 est.)
    6.3% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 18
    GDP – per capita (PPP):
    $10,400 (2014 est.)
    $9,700 (2013 est.)
    $9,200 (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2013 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 130
    Gross national saving:
    28.7% of GDP (2014 est.)
    27.7% of GDP (2013 est.)
    23.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 34
    GDP – composition, by end use:
    household consumption: 66.1%
    government consumption: 12.8%
    investment in fixed capital: 29.6%
    investment in inventories: 0.3%
    exports of goods and services: 22.5%
    imports of goods and services: -31.4%
    (2014 est.)
    GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
    agriculture: 10.2%
    industry: 33.1%
    services: 56.7% (2014 est.)
    Agriculture – products:
    rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, vegetables, fruit, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish
    processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; tourism, shipping; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining, information technology services, construction
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