The finest island
Sri Lanka is a rich tapestry of geographical and ethnic diversity
Sri Lanka, the “Wonder of Asia”, formerly known as Ceylon, has long served as an important strategic destination in the Indian Ocean. A rich colonial history, including Portu-guese, Dutch, and British rule, is visible in Sri Lanka today, as are its Buddhist and Hindu traditions.
GEOGRAPHY: Sri Lanka is a teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean just south of the south-ernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent, comprising 65,610 sq km of land mass and 1340 km of coast-line. Most of the country’s coastline is made up of sandy beaches and lagoons. Sri Lanka contains more than 100 rivers, most of which are small rivers only present during the wet season. About 12 rivers account for 75% of the water discharge annually. Sri Lanka is known for its enormous biodiversity spread across jungle, forest, and a number of national parks.
CLIMATE: Sri Lanka has two tropical Indian Ocean monsoons annually, a factor which heavily influences its climate. The Yala Monsoon between May and August brings rainfall to the south and west coasts, along with the Hill Country, while the Maha Monsoon, between October and January, affects the east and north coasts, between 22° C and 33° C, while temperatures in the Central Highlands sit between 7° C and 21.6° C.
RESOURCES: Sri Lanka possesses quantities of graphite, limestone, mineral sands, phosphates and clay. Some 20.7% of the country’s land mass is arable while 15.8% is set aside for permanent crops and 7% for permanent pasture. Sri Lanka is also home to over 70 of the world’s 200 varieties of colored gemstones, making it one of the most important gem-bearing nations in the world. Both regional plantation companies and smallholders grow tea, natural rubber, and, to a lesser extent, coconut and palm oil.
LANGUAGE: Under the 1978 Sri Lankan Constitution, both Sinhala, of Indo-Aryan origin, and Tamil, of Dravidian origin, are cited as official national languages.
RELIGION & CULTURE: According to official 2012 census estimates, 70.2% of Sri Lankans practice Buddhism, with the practicing majority concentrated in the country’s Sinhalese population. The island is characterised by an orthodox school of Buddhism, called Theravada Buddhism, an additional 12.6% of the population practices Hinduism and 9.7% practice Islam. . A further 7.4% of the country is Christian, the majority of whom are Roman Catholic.
ECONOMY: The country’s GDP derives primarily from services (61.7%), industry (30.1%) and agriculture (8.3%), according to information distributed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Though lacking indigenous raw materials, quality garments have grown to become Sri Lanka’s most important export item, constituting 41% of total exports in 2014. These are followed by tea (13.5%), rubber-based products (7.5%), spices (2%), coconut-based products (4.5%), gems (3%) and fish (2.2%). The country is also nursing more technology based services, attempting to boost IT exports and business process outsourcing, already a burgeoning industry (6.3%). With diverse destination offerings, including beaches, mountain plateaus and ancient cities.
GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE: The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka gained independence from the British Government in 1948. It is governed by Sri Lanka’s constitution, ratified in 1978 and amended numerous times, most recently in 2015.
HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: According to the UN, Sri Lanka’s Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014 was 0.757, positioning it 77th out of 188 countries surveyed and well above the average of 0.607 for South Asia. This is a 32.5% jump from 1980, when its HDI stood at 0.571. HDI takes into account life expectancy, gross national income per capita and education, the results of which are released annually. GNI per capita in Sri Lanka sits at $3460, below the World Bank threshold of $4125 that separates lower-middle income and upper-middle income countries.