Fact file


Country name

long form: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Short form:Sri Lanka


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 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 and the government regained control of the Eastern Province in 2007. In May 2009, the government announced that its military had finally defeated the remnants of the LTTE and that its leader, Velupillai Prabakaran had been killed.


Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India. 7 00 N, 81 00 E


total:65,610 sq km

Max length: 432 km

Max width: 224 km


25.1m (2014): Population density is 324 people per sq km. (UK is 255, Australia is 3, and Macau is 20,497)  

Life Expectancy

74.07 years

Ethnic groups

Sinhalese 74%, Sri Lankan Moors 7.1%, Indian Tamil 5.5%, Sri Lankan Tamil 7.1%, other 0.5%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)


Buddhist 70.1%, Hindu 12.6% Muslim 9.7%, Christian 7.4%, Roman Catholic 6.1%, Other 1.3%


defined as age 15 and over who can read and write: 98.1% (2014)


President: President Maithripala Sirisena (since 9 January 2015)

Ranil Wickremasinghe holds the largely ceremonial title of prime minister (since 9 January 2015)

Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister

GDP (per capita)

$3,558 (2014 est.) - country comparison to the world: 117

Internet users

4.2 million (2014) - country comparison to the world: 74


230/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Round 3-pin plugs are usual with bayonet lamp fittings.

GSM network

900/1800 MHz, 4G LTE 18000/23000 MHz 


Sinhala (official) 74%, Tamil 18%, Other 8%. English is commonly used in Gov't and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population

Typical foods

Rice is the main staple in local cuisine. Flavourful curries are used to make a variety of dishes ranging from meat, fish, vegetables and even fruit. Along with rice and various curries coconut milk is a common ingredient.


Based mainly on the road network which is centered on Colombo. There is a railway network but it is largely a legacy of British Colonial times and today only handles a fraction of the country's transport needs.


Sri Lankan Rupee (Rs) 100 cents = Rs 1. Change money on arrival (Rs are not available outside SL).

ATMs in major towns. Credit cards accepted in main towns.