Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, south-east of India, separated from India by the Palk Channel. The land is flat except for the central mountainous region. These mountains divide the island into two distinct regions and also block the monsoon winds which are responsible for the tropical climate. The south west region receives abundant rainfall and the remainder of the island is drier. Large tea plantations cover the southern mountain slopes.
Sri Lanka is the 53rd most populated country in the world. There are three main ethnic groups, the Sinhalese, Tamil, and Sri Lankan Moors (also known as Muslims). The Sinhalese alone account for nearly 82% of the people. The Tamil are divided into two groups; the Sri Lankan Tamils (long-settled descendants from south-eastern India) and the Indian Tamils (recent immigrants from south-eastern India, most of whom were migrant workers brought to Sri Lanka under British rule). Sri Lankan Moors commonly referred to as Muslims make up 8% of the population.
Sri Lanka is a democratic republic with an executive presidency and a Prime Minister. Proportional representation is the method of election and vote counting used. Tensions between the majority Sinhalese community and the minority Tamil community following independence erupted into a bitter civil war in the 1980’s. Many lives were lost until a cease-fire in early 2002 and a political agreement between the government and rebels in late 2002. There were set-backs to the peace process in late 2006. At the start of 2007, the cease-fire signed in 2002 was no longer respected by the parties though they had not officially withdrawn from it. On 18 May 2009, the Sri Lankan Government formally announced its regaining of complete territorial control over Sri Lanka. On 19 May 2009, Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa delivered a ‘victory' speech to Parliament. Approximately 280,000 to 300,000 civilians were displaced by the conflict in Sri Lanka, with the Sri Lankan Government pledging to resettle civilians by February 2010. Progress on this matter still continues.
Health and Education
The general health standards and education standards of the population are good. Over 90% of people over the age of 15 can read and write. Health is a government priority however, regional areas are still lacking in some facilities and medical staff is concentrated in urban areas. Communicable diseases are still important causes of death such as malaria, tuberculosis, dengue fever, diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections as well as tuberculosis.
Sri Lanka’s major crops are rice for domestic consumption, rubber, coconuts and cocoa for export. Deforestation and soil erosion are important environmental problems as well as air pollution which are on the increase due to industrial gas emissions. The violence that has occurred has damaged the economy and harmed tourism in what is one of South Asia’s more advanced and potentially prosperous societies.
Population: 20.87 million (WB 2011)
Head of State: President, HE Mahinda Rajapaksa
Head of Government: President, HE Mahinda Rajapaksa
Joined Commonwealth: 1948
Major Languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English
Major Religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam
Life Expectancy: 72 years (men), 78 years (women) (WB 2010)
Infant Mortality Rate: 10.5 per 1000 births (WB 2011)
Literacy Rate: 91%
Monetary Unit: Sri Lanka Rupee (SLRs)
Main Exports: Clothing, textiles, tea, gems, rubber,
GNI per capita: US $2,240 (Com Sec 2012)
(GNI = income per person per year)
- Internal Peace and Reconciliation
- Growth, Trade and Investment
- Regional Security
- Vaccine Preventable Diseases
- Environmental Concerns
Commonwealth Secretariat: www.thecommonwealth.org
BBC Country Profiles: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/country_profiles/default.stm
Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade: www.dfat.gov.au/
World Health Organisation: www.who.int/countries/en/
UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs: www.irinnews.org
One World Civil Society Network: www.oneworld.net
United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) http://www.unfpa.org/public/
Economist Intelligence Unit - EIU Viewswire http://viewswire.eiu.com/
CIA World Factbook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html
Country Watch http://www.countrywatch.com/cw_default.aspx
Asia News Network: www.asianewsnet.net
Central Asia News: www.centralasianews.net
Sri Lanka Government: www.priu.gov.lk
Sri Lanka News: www.lankapage.com