Sri Lanka

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Sri Lanka
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Sri Lanka
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Map of Sri Lanka
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Photos of Sri Lanka
 
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OF SRI LANKA
 

Introduction

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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; 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, but the government regained control of the Eastern Province in 2007. By May 2009, the government announced that its military had defeated the remnants of the LTTE. Since the end of the conflict, the government has resettled tens of thousands of internally displaced persons and has undertaken a number of massive infrastructure projects to reconstruct its economy.
 
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Geography

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Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India
 
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7 00 N, 81 00 E
 
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total: 65,610 sq km
country comparison to the world: 122
land: 64,630 sq km
water: 980 sq km
 
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slightly larger than West Virginia
 
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0 km
 
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1,340 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
 
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tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
 
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mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior
 
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lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pidurutalagala 2,524 m
 
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limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower
 
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arable land: 13.96%
permanent crops: 15.24%
other: 70.8% (2005)
 
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5,700 sq km (2008)
 
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50 cu km (1999)
 
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total: 12.61 cu km/yr (2%/2%/95%)
per capita: 608 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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occasional cyclones and tornadoes
 
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deforestation; 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
 
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party 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
 
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strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes
 
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People and Society

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noun: Sri Lankan(s)
adjective: Sri Lankan
 
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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)
 
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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
 
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Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)
 
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21,283,913 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
 
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0-14 years: 24.9% (male 2,705,953/female 2,599,717)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 6,993,668/female 7,313,440)
65 years and over: 7.9% (male 720,219/female 950,916) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 30.8 years
male: 29.7 years
female: 31.8 years (2011 est.)
 
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0.934% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
 
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17.42 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
 
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5.92 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
 
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-2.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
 
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urban population: 14% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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COLOMBO (capital) 681,000 (2009)
 
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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: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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39 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 103
 
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total: 9.7 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 149
male: 10.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 75.73 years
country comparison to the world: 82
male: 72.21 years
female: 79.38 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.2 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
 
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4% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 162
 
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0.492 physicians/1,000 population (2006)
country comparison to the world: 124
 
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3.1 beds/1,000 population (2004)
country comparison to the world: 71
 
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improved:
urban: 98% of population
rural: 88% of population
total: 90% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2% of population
rural: 12% of population
total: 10% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 88% of population
rural: 92% of population
total: 91% of population
unimproved:
urban: 12% of population
rural: 8% of population
total: 9% of population (2008)
 
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less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
 
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2,800 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129
 
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fewer than 200 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
 
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degree 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)
 
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21.1% (2007)
country comparison to the world: 30
 
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NA
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.7%
male: 92.3%
female: 89.1% (2001 census)
 
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total: 13 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2004)
 
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total: 21.3%
country comparison to the world: 49
male: 17.1%
female: 27.9% (2009)
 
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Government

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conventional 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
 
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republic
 
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name: 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)
 
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9 provinces; Central, Eastern, North Central, Northern, North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, Western
 
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4 February 1948 (from the UK)
 
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Independence Day, 4 February (1948)
 
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adopted 16 August 1978, certified 31 August 1978; amended 20 December 2001
 
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mixed legal system of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, and Jaffna Tamil customary law
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: President Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA (since 19 November 2005); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government; Dissanayake Mudiyanselage JAYARATNE holds the largely ceremonial title of prime minister (since 21 April 2010)
head of government: President Mahinda Percy RAJAPAKSA (since 19 November 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (two-term limit); election last held on 26 January 2010 (next to be held in 2016)
election results: Mahinda RAJAPAKSA reelected president for second term; percent of vote - Mahinda RAJAPAKSA 57.88%, Sarath FONSEKA 40.15%, other 1.97%
 
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unicameral 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 8 April 2010 with a repoll in two electorates held on 20 April 2010 (next to be held by April 2016)
election results: percent of vote by alliance or party - United People's Freedom Alliance 60.93%, United National Party 29.34%, Democratic National Alliance 5.49%, Tamil National Alliance 2.9%, other 1.94%; seats by alliance or party - United People's Freedom Alliance 144, United National Party 60, Tamil National Alliance 14, Democratic National Alliance 7
 
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Supreme Court; Court of Appeals; judges for both courts are appointed by the president
 
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Coalitions and leaders: Democratic National Alliance led by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP [Somawansa AMARASINGHE]; Tamil National Alliance led by Illandai Tamil Arasu Kachchi [R. SAMPANTHAN]; United National Front led by United National Party [Ranil WICKREMESINGHE]; United People's Freedom Alliance led by Sri Lanka Freedom Party [Mahinda RAJAPAKSA]
 
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Liberation 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
 
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ABEDA, ADB, ARF, BIMSTEC, C, CP, FAO, G-11, 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, MONUSCO, NAM, OAS (observer), OPCW, PCA, SAARC, SACEP, SCO (dialogue member), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNISFA, UNMISS, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Jaliya Chitran WICKRAMASURIYA
chancery: 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-4025 through 4028
FAX: [1] (202) 232-7181
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
consulate(s): New York
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Patricia A. BUTENIS
embassy: 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3
mailing address: P. O. Box 106, Colombo
telephone: [94] (11) 249-8500
FAX: [94] (11) 243-7345
 
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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 dark red 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 the Sri Lankan Moors; dark red represents the European Burghers, but also refers to the rich colonial background of the country; yellow denotes other ethnic groups; also referred to as the Lion Flag
 
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lion
 
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name: "Sri Lanka Matha" (Mother Sri Lanka)
lyrics/music: Ananda SAMARKONE
note: adopted 1951
 
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Economy

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Sri Lanka is engaging in large-scale reconstruction and development projects following the end of the 26-year conflict with the LTTE, including increasing electricity access and rebuilding its road and rail network. Additionally, Sri Lanka seeks to reduce poverty by using a combination of state directed policies and private investment promotion to spur growth in disadvantaged areas, develop small and medium enterprises, and promote increased agriculture. High levels of government funding may be difficult, as the government already is faced with high debt interest payments, a bloated civil service, and historically high budget deficits. The 2008-09 global financial crisis and recession exposed Sri Lanka's economic vulnerabilities and nearly caused a balance of payments crisis, which was alleviated by a $2.6 billion IMF standby agreement in July 2009. The end of the civil war and the IMF loan, however, have largely restored investors' confidence, reflected in part by the Sri Lankan stock market's recognition as one of the best performing markets in the world. Sri Lankan growth rates averaged nearly 5% in during the war, but increased government spending on development and fighting the LTTE in the final years spurred GDP growth to around 6-7% per year in 2006-08. After experiencing 3.5% growth in 2009, Sri Lanka's economy is poised to achieve high growth rates in the postwar period.
 
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$106.5 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
$97.6 billion (2009 est.)
$94.02 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$49.68 billion (2010 est.)
 
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9.1% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
3.8% (2009 est.)
6% (2008 est.)
 
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$5,000 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
$4,600 (2009 est.)
$4,400 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 12.8%
industry: 29.4%
services: 57.8% (2010 est.)
 
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8.074 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
 
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agriculture: 32.7%
industry: 26.3%
services: 41% (December 2008 est.)
 
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5.8% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
5.7% (2009 est.)
 
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23% (2008 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 32.9% (2007)
 
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40.3 (2007)
country comparison to the world: 61
46 (1995)
 
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25.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
 
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revenues: $7.386 billion
expenditures: $11.32 billion (2010 est.)
 
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14.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186
 
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-7.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186
 
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81.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
86.1% of GDP (2009 est.)
 
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5.9% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 163
3.4% (2009 est.)
 
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5.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
15% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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10.22% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
15.67% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$3.579 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103
$2.871 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$19.72 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
$16.41 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$20.44 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
$16.72 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$19.92 billion (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 71
$8.133 billion (31 December 2009)
$4.326 billion (31 December 2008)
 
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rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, vegetables, fruit, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish
 
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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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8.4% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 38
 
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8.893 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
 
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7.885 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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637 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
 
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92,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
 
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
 
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84,730 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
 
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-$1.691 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
-$291 million (2009 est.)
 
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$8.307 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97
$7.085 billion (2009 est.)
 
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textiles and apparel, tea and spices; rubber manufactures; precious stones; coconut products, fish
 
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US 19.6%, UK 10.4%, Italy 5.1%, India 4.9%, Germany 4.9%, Belgium 4.1% (2010)
 
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$12.16 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
$9.186 billion (2009 est.)
 
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petroleum, textiles, machinery and transportation equipment, building materials, mineral products, foodstuffs
 
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India 19.4%, China 15.1%, Singapore 9.1%, Iran 7%, Japan 4.9% (2010)
 
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$7.197 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
$5.358 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$19.78 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
$17.21 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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$NA
 
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Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar -
113.36 (2010)
114.95 (2009)
108.33 (2008)
110.78 (2007)
103.99 (2006)
 
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Communications

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3.579 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 44
 
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17.359 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 49
 
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general 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)
 
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government operates 2 television channels and a radio network; multi-channel satellite and cable TV subscription services are obtainable; 8 private TV stations and about a dozen private radio stations in operation (2008)
 
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.lk
 
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8,865 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 131
 
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1.777 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 77
 
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Transportation

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18 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 139
 
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total: 14
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2010)
 
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total: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 3 (2010)
 
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total: 1,449 km
country comparison to the world: 80
broad gauge: 1,449 km 1.676-m gauge (2010)
 
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total: 91,907 km (2008)
country comparison to the world: 52
 
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160 km (primarily on rivers in southwest) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 101
 
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total: 22
country comparison to the world: 98
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 14, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 3
foreign-owned: 5 (Germany 5) (2010)
 
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Colombo
 
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Military

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Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force (2010)
 
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18 years of age for voluntary military service; 5-year service obligation (2010)
 
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males age 16-49: 5,342,147
females age 16-49: 5,466,409 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 4,177,432
females age 16-49: 4,574,833 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 167,026
female: 162,587 (2010 est.)
 
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2.6% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 56
 
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Transnational Issues

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none
 
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IDPs: 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)
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