World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Indian Subcontinent

Sri Lanka Travelling Guide
Sri Lanka Travelling Guide

General background: Occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and the Dutch in the 17th century, the island was ceded to the British in 1802. As Ceylon it became independent in 1948; its name was changed in 1972. Tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted in violence in the mid-1980s. Tens of thousands have died in an ethnic war that continues to fester.

Area comparative: Slightly larger than West Virginia.

Climate: Tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
Terrain: Mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior

Population: 19,576,783

Ethnic groups: Sinhalese 74%, Tamil 18%, Moor 7%, Burgher, Malay, and Vedda 1%

Religions: Buddhist 70%, Hindu 15%, Christian 8%, Muslim 7% (1999)

Language: 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

Government type: republic

Capital: Colombo; note - Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital

Legal system: A highly complex mixture of English common law, Roman-Dutch, Muslim, Sinhalese, and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Economic overview: In 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for market-oriented policies and export-oriented trade. Sri Lanka's most dynamic sectors now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. By 1996 plantation crops made up only 20% of exports (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for 63%. GDP grew at an average annual rate of 5.5% throughout the 1990s until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-2000 with average growth of 5.3%. But 2001 saw the first contraction in the country's history, due to a combination of power shortages, severe budgetary problems, the global slowdown, and continuing civil strife.

Communication/Telephone system: Very inadequate domestic service, particularly in rural areas; likely improvement with privatization of national telephone company and encouragement to private investment; good international service (1999).

Places of interest: Head for the hill country to escape the heat of the plains, where the coast fades away to reveal gorgeous rolling hills often carpeted with tea plantations. The entire island is teeming with bird life and exotics like elephants and leopards are not uncommon.

Travel tips: The people are friendly, the food is delicious and costs are low.