Country Focus Data: Sri Lanka
November 01, 1997
by Mindy Dake
An island in the Indian Ocean, south of India. Colombo is the capital.
Demography: Population 18.55 million (1996 estimate); 1.13% growth rate; Sinhala and Tamil languages; Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim religions.
Geography: Coastal plains in the northern third of the country, hills and mountains in the south-central portion.
Government: Republic. The chief head of state and head of government is President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.
Official agricultural agencies: Food Commissioner.
Economy: Hostility between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils has hampered Sri Lanka's economy for more than a decade. Still, the government has made strides to privatize industry, implement trade reforms and attract foreign investment. More than 40 state firms have been privatized, and a stock exchange was founded in 1990. In 1994, inflation was 8.4% with unemployment of 13%, and agriculture accounted for 20% of gross domestic product.
G.D.P. per capita: US$3,600; growth rate 5% (both 1995 estimates).
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee. Sept. 22, 1997 exchange rate: 59.62 rupees per U.S. dollar.
Exports: US$3.2 billion (f.o.b., 1994); tea, garments and textiles, gems, petroleum and rubber products, coconut and agricultural products.
Imports: US$4.8 billion (c.i.f., 1994); textiles and materials, machinery and equipment, food, petroleum, building materials.
Major agricultural products: rice, tea, coconut, rubber, spices.
Rice and other grains: Annual rice production from 1993-1997 averaged 1.687 million tonnes. Sri Lanka imports annually an average of 156,000 tonnes to satisfy domestic use, but in 1994, Sri Lanka exported 85,000 tonnes.
The country produces no wheat and virtually no coarse grains. Wheat imports from 1993-97 averaged 912,000 tonnes, about equal to domestic consumption.
Transportation: 94,651 km roads, 27% paved; 1,484 km railroads, 98% 1.676-m gauge; major ports are Colombo, Galle, Jaffna, Trincomalee.