The World Factbook (1990)/Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka

World Factbook (1990) Sri Lanka.jpg

See regional map VIII


Total area: 65,610 km²; land area: 64,740 km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 1,340 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Continental shelf: edge of continental margin or 200 nm
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

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

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

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

Land use: 16% arable land; 17% permanent crops; 7% meadows and pastures; 37% forest and woodland; 23% other; includes 8% irrigated

Environment: occasional cyclones, tornados; deforestation; soil erosion

Note: only 29 km from India across the Palk Strait; near major Indian Ocean sea lanes


Population: 17,196,436 (July 1990), growth rate 1.5% (1990)

Birth rate: 21 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 6 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: NEGL migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 31 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 68 years male, 72 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.3 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Sri Lankan(s); adjective—Sri Lankan

Ethnic divisions: 74% Sinhalese; 18% Tamil; 7% Moor; 1% Burgher, Malay, and Veddha

Religion: 69% Buddhist, 15% Hindu, 8% Christian, 8% Muslim

Language: Sinhala (official); Sinhala and Tamil listed as national languages; Sinhala spoken by about 74% of population, Tamil spoken by about 18%; English commonly used in government and spoken by about 10% of the population

Literacy: 87%

Labor force: 6,600,000; 45.9% agriculture, 13.3% mining and manufacturing, 12.4% trade and transport, 28.4% services and other (1985 est.)

Organized labor: about 33% of labor force, over 50% of which are employed on tea, rubber, and coconut estates


Long-form name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Type: republic

Capital: Colombo

Administrative divisions: 24 districts; Amparai, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Batticaloa, Colombo, Galle, Gampaha, Hambantota, Jaffna, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalla, Kurunegala, Mannar, Matale, Matara, Moneragala, Mullativu, Nuwara Eliya, Polonnaruwa, Puttalam, Ratnapura, Trincomalee, Vavuniya; note—the administrative structure may now include 8 provinces (Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, and Western) and 25 districts (with Kilinochchi added to the existing districts)

Independence: 4 February 1948 (from UK; formerly Ceylon)

Constitution: 31 August 1978

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

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

Executive branch: president, prime minister, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—President Ranasinghe PREMADASA (since 2 January 1989);

Head of Government—Prime Minister Dingiri Banda WIJETUNGE (since 6 March 1989)

Political parties and leaders: United National Party (UNP), Ranasinghe Premadasa; Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Sirimavo Bandaranaike; Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Mhm. Ashraff; All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), Kumar Ponnambalam; Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP, or People's United Front), Dinesh Gundawardene; Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP, or Sri Lanka People's Party), Chandrika Baudaranaike Kumaranatunga; Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP, Lanka Socialist Party/Trotskyite), Colin R. de Silva; Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP, or New Socialist Party), Vasudeva Nanayakkara; Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), leader NA; Communist Party/Moscow (CP/M), K. P. Silva; Communist Party/Beijing (CP/B), N. Shanmugathasan

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held 19 December 1988 (next to be held December 1994); results—Ranasinghe Premadasa (UNP) 50%, Sirimavo Bandaranaike (SLFP) 45%, others 5%;

Parliament—last held 15 February 1989 (next to be held by February 1995); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(225 total) UNP 125, SLFP 67, others 33

Other political or pressure groups: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and other smaller Tamil separatist groups; Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP or People's Liberation Front); Buddhist clergy; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups; labor unions


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador W. Susanta De ALWIS; Chancery at 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 483-4025 through 4028; there is a Sri Lankan Consulate in New York; US—Ambassador Marion V. CREEKMORE; Embassy at 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3 (mailing address is P. O. Box 106, Colombo); telephone [94](1) 548007

Flag: 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


Overview: Agriculture, forestry, and fishing dominate the economy, employing about half of the labor force and accounting for about 25% of GDP. The plantation crops of tea, rubber, and coconuts provide about 50% of export earnings and almost 20% of budgetary revenues. The economy has been plagued by high rates of unemployment since the late 1970s.

GDP: $6.1 billion, per capita $370; real growth rate 2.7% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 15% (1988)

Unemployment rate: 20% (1988 est.)

Budget: revenues $1.5 billion; expenditures $2.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $0.7 billion (1989)

Exports: $1.5 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—tea, textiles and garments, petroleum products, coconut, rubber, agricultural products, gems and jewelry, marine products; partners—US 26%, Egypt, Iraq, UK, FRG, Singapore, Japan

Imports: $2.3 billion (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—petroleum, machinery and equipment, textiles and textile materials, wheat, transportation equipment, electrical machinery, sugar, rice; partners—Japan, Saudi Arabia, US 5.6%, India, Singapore, FRG, UK, Iran

External debt: $5.6 billion (1989)

Industrial production: growth rate 5% (1988)

Electricity: 1,300,000 kW capacity; 4,200 million kWh produced, 250 kWh per capita (1989)

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

Agriculture: accounts for 25% of GDP and nearly half of labor force; most important staple crop is paddy rice; other field crops—sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseeds, roots, spices; cash crops tea, rubber, coconuts; animal products milk, eggs, hides, meat; not self-sufficient in rice production

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $932 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1980-87), $4.3 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $169 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $369 million

Currency: Sri Lankan rupee (plural—rupees); 1 Sri Lankan rupee (SLRe) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Sri Lankan rupees (SLRs) per US$1—40.000 (January 1990), 36.047 (1989), 31.807 (1988), 29.445 (1987), 28.017 (1986), 27.163 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 1,868 km total (1985); all 1.868-meter broad gauge; 102 km double track; no electrification; government owned

Highways: 66,176 km total (1985); 24,300 km paved (mostly bituminous treated), 28,916 km crushed stone or gravel, 12,960 km improved earth or unimproved earth; several thousand km of mostly unmotorable tracks

Inland waterways: 430 km; navigable by shallow-draft craft

Pipelines: crude and refined products, 62 km (1987)

Ports: Colombo, Trincomalee

Merchant marine: 40 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 258,923 GRT/334,702 DWT; includes 22 cargo, 8 refrigerated cargo, 4 container, 1 livestock carrier, 2 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 3 bulk

Civil air: 8 major transport (including 1 leased)

Airports: 14 total, 13 usable; 12 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 7 with runways 1, 220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: good international service; 109,900 telephones (1982); stations—12 AM, 5 FM, 1 TV; submarine cables extend to Indonesia, Djibouti, India; 2 Indian Ocean INTELSAT earth stations

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Air Force, Navy, Police Force, Special Police Task Force, National Auxiliary Force

Military manpower: males 15-49, 4,568,648; 3,574,637 fit for military service; 177,610 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 5% of GDP, or $300 million (1989 est.)