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Location: Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India

Geographic coordinates: 7 00 N, 81 00 E

Map references: Asia

total: 65,610 sq km
land: 64,740 sq km
water: 870 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 1,340 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

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

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m

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

Land use:
arable land: 14%
permanent crops: 15%
permanent pastures: 7%
forests and woodland: 32%
other: 32% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 5,500 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: occasional cyclones and tornadoes

Environment—current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography—note: strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes


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Population: 18,933,558 (July 1998 est.)
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; as of late 1996, 63,068 were housed in refugee camps in south India, another 30,000-40,000 lived outside the Indian camps, and more than 200,000 Tamils have sought political asylum in the West

Age structure:
0-14 years: 28% (male 2,673,194; female 2,556,926)
15-64 years: 66% (male 6,126,759; female 6,385,450)
65 years and over: 6% (male 579,329; female 611,900) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.12% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 18.4 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.96 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.25 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 16.33 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.55 years
male: 69.82 years
female: 75.41 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.12 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Sri Lankan(s)
adjective: Sri Lankan

Ethnic groups: Sinhalese 74%, Tamil 18%, Moor 7%, Burgher, Malay, and Vedda 1%

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

Languages: Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%
note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken by about 10% of the population

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.2%
male: 93.4%
female: 87.2% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
conventional short form: Sri Lanka
former: Ceylon

Data code: CE

Government type: republic

National capital: Colombo

Administrative divisions: 8 provinces; Central, North Central, North Eastern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western

Independence: 4 February 1948 (from UK)

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

Constitution: adopted 16 August 1978

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

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (since 12 November 1994); note—Sirimavo BANDARANAIKE is the prime minister; in Sri Lanka the president is considered to be both the chief of state and the head of the government, this is in contrast to the more common practice of dividing the roles between the president and the prime minister when both offices exist
head of government: President Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (since 12 November 1994); note—Sirimavo BANDARANAIKE is the prime minister; in Sri Lanka the president is considered to be both the chief of state and the head of the government, this is in contrast to the more common practice of dividing the roles between the president and the prime minister when both offices exist
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 9 November 1994 (next to be held NA November 2000)
election results: Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA elected president; percent of vote - Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA (People's Alliance) 62%, Srima DISSANAYAKE (United National Party) 37%, other 1%

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (225 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of a modified proportional representation system to serve six-year terms)
elections: last held 16 August 1994 (next to be held by August 2000)
election results: percent of vote by party—PA 49.0%, UNP 44.0%, SLMC 1.8%, TULF 1.7%, SLPF 1.1%, EPDP 0.3%, UPF 0.3%, PLOTE 0.1%, other 1.7%; seats by party—PA 105, UNP 94, EPDP 9, SLMC 7, TULF 5, PLOTE 3, SLPF 1, UPF 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission; Court of Appeals

Political parties and leaders: All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), C. G. Kumar PONNAMBALAM; Ceylon Workers Congress (CLDC), S. THONDAMAN; Communist Party, K. P. SILVA; Communist Party/Beijing (CP/B), N. SHANMUGATHASAN; Democratic People's Liberation Front (DPLF), leader NA; Democratic United National (Lalith) Front (DUNLF), Srimani ATHULATHMUDALI; Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), Douglas DEVANANDA; Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRL), Suresh PREMACHANDRAN; Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students (EROS), Shankar RAJI; Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Somawansa AMERASINGHE; Lanka Socialist Party/Trotskyite (LSSP, or Lanka Sama Samaja Party), Batty WEERAKOON; Liberal Party (LP), Rajira WIJESINGHE; New Socialist Party (NSSP, or Nava Sama Samaja Party), Vasudeva NANAYAKKARA; People's Alliance (PA), Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA; People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Uma MAHESWARAN; People's United Front (MEP, or Mahajana Eksath Peramuna), Dinesh GUNAWARDENE; Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA; Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), M. H. M. ASHRAFF; Sri Lanka People's Party (SLMP, or Sri Lanka Mahajana Party), Y. P. DE SILVA; Sri Lanka Progressive Front (SLPF), Ariya BULEGODA; Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), M. K. SIVAJILINGHAM; Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), M. SIVASITHAMBARAM; United National Party (UNP), Ranil WICHREMESINGHE; Upcountry People's Front (UPF), Periyasamy CHANDRASEKARAN; Desha Vimukthi Janatha Party (DVJP), P.M. Podi APPUHAMY; several ethnic Tamil and Muslim parties, represented in either parliament or provincial councils
note: the United Socialist Alliance (USA), which was formed in 1987 and included the NSSP, LSSP, SLMP, CP/M, and CP/B, was defunct as of 1993, following the formation of the People's Alliance Party (PA)

Political pressure groups and leaders: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE); other radical chauvinist Sinhalese groups; Buddhist clergy; Sinhalese Buddhist lay groups; labor unions

International organization participation: AsDB, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM, PCA, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Warnasena RASAPUTRAM
chancery: 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-4025 through 4028
FAX: [1] (202) 232-7181
consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Shaun E. DONNELLY
embassy: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3
mailing address: P. O. Box 106, Colombo
telephone: [94] (1) 448007
FAX: [94] (1) 437345, 446013

Flag description: 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


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Economy—overview: At independence in 1948, plantations growing tea, rubber, or coconuts and paddies growing rice for subsistence dominated Sri Lanka's economy, and, as late as 1970, plantation crops accounted for 93% of exports. In 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for market-oriented policies and export-oriented trade. Sri Lanka's most dynamic industries now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. By 1996 plantation crops made up only 20% of exports, while textiles and garments accounted for 63%. GDP grew at an annual average rate of 5.5% throughout the 1990s until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in second half 1996, however, and continued to perform well in 1997 with growth of 6%. Sustained economic growth, coupled with population growth of only 1.1%, has pushed Sri Lanka from the ranks of the poorest countries in the world up to the threshold of the middle income countries. For the next round of reforms, the central bank of Sri Lanka recommends that Colombo expand market mechanisms in nonplantation agriculture, dismantle the government's monopoly on wheat imports, and promote more competition in the financial sector. A continuing cloud over the economy is the fighting between the Sinhalese and the minority Tamils, which has cost 50,000 lives in the past 14 years.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$72.1 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 6% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$3,800 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 18.4%
industry: 18%
services: 63.6% (1996)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 9.6% (1997)

Labor force:
total: 6.2 million (1997)
by occupation: services 46%, agriculture 37%, industry 17% (1997 est.)

Unemployment rate: 11% (1997 est.)

revenues: $3 billion
expenditures: $4.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $1 billion (1997 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: 6.5% (1996 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 1.557 million kW (1997 est.)

Electricity—production: 4.86 billion kWh (1997 est.)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 220 kWh (1997 est.)

Agriculture—products: rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, roots, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, meat

total value: $4.1 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: textiles and apparel, tea, diamonds and other gems, rubber products, petroleum products (1995)
partners: US 34%, UK 9.5%, Japan 6.2%, Germany 5.8%, Belgium-Luxembourg 5.3% (1996)

total value: $5.4 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: machinery and equipment, textiles, transport equipment, petroleum, building materials, sugar, wheat (1996)
partners: India 10.4%, Japan 9.1%, South Korea 6.5%, Hong Kong 6.5%, Taiwan 5.3% (1996)

Debt—external: $9.4 billion (1996)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $620 million (1996 est.)

Currency: 1 Sri Lankan rupee (SLRe) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Sri Lankan rupees (SLRes) per US$1—61.479 (January 1998), 58.995 (1997), 55.271 (1996), 51.252 (1995), 49.415 (1994), 48.322 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 352,681 (1997 est.); note—in addition, there are 114,888 mobile telephones (1997 est.)

Telephone system: very inadequate domestic service, but expanding with the entry of two wireless loop operators and privatization of national telephone company; good international service
domestic: NA
international: submarine cables to Indonesia and Djibouti; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 12, FM 5, shortwave 0

Radios: 3.6 million (1996 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 5

Televisions: 1.6 million (1996 est.)


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total: 1,501 km
broad gauge: 1,442 km 1.676-m gauge
narrow gauge: 59 km 0.762-m gauge (1995)

total: 99,200 km
paved: 39,680 km
unpaved: 59,520 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 430 km; navigable by shallow-draft craft

Pipelines: crude oil and petroleum products 62 km (1987)

Ports and harbors: Colombo, Galle, Jaffna, Trincomalee

Merchant marine:
total: 24 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 204,542 GRT/317,253 DWT
ships by type: bulk 2, cargo 13, container 1, oil tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 6 (1997 est.)

Airports: 13 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 12
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (1997 est.)




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