Where Sri Lanka on the world map. Map of Sri Lanka
Map of Sri Lanka with cities. Where Sri Lanka is on the world map. The main geographical facts about Sri Lanka - population, country area, capital, official language, religions, industry and culture.
Sri Lanka Fact File
Official name Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Form of government Republic with single legislative body (Parliament)
Capital Colombo (Sri Jayawardanapura-Kotte)
Area 65,610 sq km (25,332 sq miles)
Time zone GMT + 5.5 hours
Projected population 2015 21,451,000
Population density 298.4 per sq km (772.8 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 72.4
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 15.7
Official language Sinhala, Tamil
Other languages Malayan, English
Literacy rate 90.2 %
Religions Buddhist 69%, Hindu 15%, Christian 8%, Muslim 8%
Ethnic groups Sinhalese 74%, Tamil 18%, Sri Lankan Moor 7%, other 1 %
Currency Sri Lankan rupee
Economy Services 45 %, agriculture 43c industry 12%
GNP per capita US$ 3,250
Climate Tropical; southwest wetter with most rain falling April to June and October to November; northeast drier with most rain falling December to February
Highest point Mt Pidurutalagala 2,524 m (8,281 ft)
Map reference Page 216-17
Sri Lanka is a large, scenically dramatic island off India's southeast coast, and was known as Ceylon until 1972. It has a mountainous center, and a string of coral islets called "Adam's Bridge" link it to India in the northwest. Over the last 50 years the country has suffered intermittent strife. For over 1,000 years a minority of Hindu Tamils in the north and a majority of Sinhalese elsewhere have lived side by side. From the sixteenth century successive European nations—the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British—visited and left their ethnic mark. Britain controlled the whole island from 1815, and brought in large numbers of additional Tamil plantation workers from south India later that century.
When Sri Lanka gained its independence in 1948 the majority Sinhalese stripped 800,000 Tamils of citizenship and the right to vote, and made Sinhala the country's sole official language. From that point onwards there has been civil unrest and from 1983 there has been civil war. The Tamil demand for an autonomous northern state has been complicated by separate leftist insurrections by radical Sinhalese seeking to overthrow the government. Sri Lanka has a large number of political parties and movements on the left (including one which is officially Trotskyist) which have added intransigence to its political life. Civil war and insurgencies have taken at least 50,000 lives.
With high mountains, intermontane plateaus, and steep river gorges, the rugged terrain of the central uplands dominates the island. Much of this higher ground is devoted to growing tea on large plantations. Falling away to the southwest, the terrain declines towards the sandy coastal lowlands where coconuts are grown (Sri Lanka is the world's fifth-largest producer). Rubber is the third important plantation crop. Overall, 37 percent of the country supports tropical vegetation and open woodland. Though it has been reduced by deforestation, rainforest still covers the wettest areas. The fertile, rice-growing northern plains are bordered to the southeast by the Mahaweli River.
Among Sri Lanka's mineral resources are a variety of precious and semi-precious stones including sapphire, ruby, tourmaline, and topaz. Also mined are graphite, mineral sands, and phosphates. About 43 percent of the workforce is engaged in agriculture, the main subsistence crop being rice—although production falls considerably short of the country's requirements. Fruit, vegetables, and spices are grown as staples as well as for export and Sri Lanka is one of the world's main exporters of tea. But today industry, dominated by the manufacture of clothing and expanding in special Export Processing Zones, has overtaken agriculture as the principal source of export earnings. The uncertain economic climate created by civil strife continues to cloud the nation's prospects, deterring tourists and discouraging foreign investment.