Sri Lanka - At a glance

Sri Lanka at a glance

Country The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. It became Sri Lanka – and a republic – in 1972, with the addition of ‘Sri’, meaning ‘resplendent’, to an ancient name for the island, ‘Lanka’.

Location An island off the southern tip of India, 880km north of the Equator; latitude 5°55’ to 9°50’N, longitude 70°42’ to 81°52’E

Area 65,525km² (25,299 square miles)

Topography Flat on the coastal areas and northern half of the island with the central and south-central areas being hilly and mountainous

Climate Tropical in lowlands with average temperatures of 27°C. Cooler in hills with average of 16°C. Monsoon in southwest May–July; in northeast, December–January.

Capital Sri Jayewardenepura. Commercial capital Colombo; population of Colombo district 2.3 million (2012).

Government The executive consists of an elected president who is head of state, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and head of the cabinet of ministers drawn from a parliament of 225 elected members

Population 20.26 million (2012 estimate), of whom 74.9% are Sinhalese, 11.2% Sri Lankan Tamil, 4.2% Indian Tamil, 9.2% Moors, with the balance being Malays, Burghers (descendants of Dutch colonists) and others

Population distribution Urban 21.5%, rural 72.2%, estate 6.3%

Literacy rate 92%

Life expectancy at birth Males 69 years; females 74 years

Economy Main foreign-exchange earners: emigrants’ remittances, tea, tourism (1,000,000 visitors in 2012) and locally manufactured garment exports

Gross domestic product (GDP) 6% real growth rate

Gross national product (GNP) Rs7.5 million (2012)

Average per capita income US$1,160 per annum

Languages Official languages are Sinhala and Tamil, with English as the official link language

Religion Buddhist 69.3%, Hindu 15.5%, Christian 7.6%, Muslim 7.5%, others 0.1%

Currency Rupee (Rs) (for up-to-date rates, go to

International dialling code +94

Time GMT +5 hours 30 minutes

Electricity 230 volts AC

Weights and measures Metric

Flag Two equal stripes of green and yellow alongside the Lion Flag of King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe 

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