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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 circa 250 B.C., and the first kingdoms developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (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 Portuguese controlled the coastal areas of the island in the 16th century and 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. Prevailing 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. Both the LTTE and the government unofficially abrogated the ceasefire and violence between the LTTE and government forces intensified in 2006, but the government regained control of the Eastern Province in 2007. The government officially withdrew from the ceasefire agreement in January 2008 and by May 2009, the remnants of the LTTE had been defeated.


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

Natural Resources

limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower, arable land

Population - distribution

the population is primarily concentrated within a broad wet zone in the southwest, urban centers along the eastern coast, and on the Jaffna Peninsula in the north

Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (official and national language) 18%, other 8%
Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (legislative capital) 128,000 (2014); COLOMBO (capital) 707,000 (2015)
Conventional long form
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Conventional short form
Sri Lanka
Local long form
Shri Lanka Prajatantrika Samajavadi Janarajaya/Ilankai Jananayaka Choshalichak Kutiyarachu
Local short form
Shri Lanka/Ilankai
presidential republic
Geographic coordinates
6 55 N, 79 50 E
Time difference
UTC+5.5 (10.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Sri Lanka is attempting to sustain economic growth while maintaining macroeconomic stability under an IMF program. The government's high debt payments and bloated civil service cadre, which have contributed to historically high budget deficits and low tax revenues, remain a concern. Government debt is about 77% of GDP and remains among the highest of the emerging markets.
External debt stocks
US$ 43,920,151,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -2,008,522,862
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 23,646,447,321
Exports of goods and services
US$ 17,438,283,795
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 681,238,956
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 6,365,963,005
rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, vegetables, fruit, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish
processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; tourism, shipping; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining, information technology services, construction
textiles and apparel, tea and spices; rubber manufactures; precious stones; coconut products, fish
US 28.8%, UK 10.6%, India 6.6%, Germany 4.9%, Italy 4.5% (2015)
petroleum, textiles, machinery and transportation equipment, building materials, mineral products, foodstuffs
India 28.3%, Japan 9.2%, UAE 7.1%, Singapore 6.1% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
Political and economic uncertainties and an occasionally difficult business environment can affect corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is appreciable.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is mediocre. The availability and the reliability of corporate financial information vary widely. Debt collection can sometimes be difficult. The institutional framework has a few troublesome weaknesses. Intercompany transactions run appreciable risks in the unstable, largely inefficient environments rated B.
  • Diversified agricultural production (tea, rice, coconuts, rubber)
  • Reduction of poverty
  • Human development and governance indicators higher than those of its South-East Asian neighbors
  • Indian and Chinese interests
  • Tourism growing strongly
  • Marked dependence on the textile sector
  • Lack of infrastructures
  • Low levels of capital public spending because of the burden of debt servicing
  • Vulnerability linked to dependence on short- term external funding

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