Page last modified 20 August 2023

 

Sri Lanka

Community

Area 65,610 square kilometres (land area 64,630 square kilometres)

Population,


1,500,000 (1850)

1,697,975 (1857)

2,763,984 (1881)

3,008,466 (1891)

3,578,333 (1901)

5,312,548 (1931)

6,695,605 (1946)

7,500,000 (1950)

9,875,000 (1960)

12,486,000 (1970)

15,035,000 (1980)

17,330,000 (1990)

18,780,000 (2000)

20,261,000 (2010)

20,970,000 (2015)

21,670,000 (2018)


Ethnicity, %

 

Arab

Malay

Sinhalese

Tamil

All

Tamil

Indian1

Tamil

Sri Lanka

White

1891

 

 

67.8

 

 

24.1

0.9

1900

6.3

0.3

65.3

26.0

 

 

 

1910

 

0.3

65.1

26.6

 

 

0.3

1944

6.3

0.3

67.0

24.9

15.0

9.9

 

1953

5.7

 

69.4

22.9

12.0

10.9

0.1

1970

7.0

 

72.0

21.0

 

 

 

1981

7.0

 

74.0

18.0

5.0

13.0

 

2012

9.2

 

74.9

15.4

4.2

11.2

 

1Agreement with India for repatriation of Indian Tamils to India.In the 1980s and 1990s, 300,000 Tamils left Sri Lanka, one third to India and two thirds as refugees to developed countries.


Religion, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka from India in the third century BC.

 

Buddhist

Christian All

Christian

R C

Hindu

Muslim

Sunni

1890

 

10.0

7.0

 

 

1910

59.8

9.8

8.0

23.1

6.9

1945

61.0

7.0

 

22.0

9.0

1970

67.4

7.7

 

17.6

7.1

1981

69.0

8.0

 

15.0

8.0

2001

71.1

7.0

 

12.0

9.0

2011

70.2

7.4

 

12.6

9.7

Birth and death rates Below replacement rate = 2.1

 

Fertility Rate

Birth

Rate

Infant

Mortality

Death

Rate

% Aged

Under 15

% Aged

Over

65

% Urban

1930

 

 

 

 

 

 

13.2

1950

 

39.0 (+27.0)

91.0

12.0

40.7

3.9

15.0

1960

5.5

35.0 (+23.2)

71.6

11.8

42.0

4.5

16.4

1970

4.3

29.0 (+21.2)

54.4

7.8

40.3

3.7

19.5

1980

3.4

27.6 (+21.3)

39.7

6.3

35.9

4.4

18.8

1990

2.5

20.0 (+13.5)

18.0

6.5

32.1

5.5

18.6

2000

2.2

18.0 (+11.0)

14.0

7.0

26.8

6.2

18.4

2010

2.2

18.0 (+11.5)

9.7

6.5

25.4

7.3

18.3

2015

2.2

15.6 (+8.8)

7.5

6.8

24.6

9.3

18.4

2016

 

 

7.0

 

24.3

9.7

18.4

2017

2.2

16.1 (+9.1)

6.7

7.0

 

 

 

2018

 

 

6.4

 

24.2

10.5

 

Life expectancy,


31.7 (1921); 32.7 (M), 30.7 (F)

56.6 (1952); 56.0 (M), 58.0 (F)

59.7 (1960); 57.3 (M), 62.2 (F)

64.3 (1970); 62.4 (M), 66.2 (F)

68.3 (1980); 66.3 (M), 70.4 (F)

69.7 (1990); 66.3 (M), 73.2 (F)

71.1 (2000); 67.5 (M), 74.9 (F)

74.3 (2010); 70.9 (M), 77.9 (F)

77.1 (2020); 73.7 (M), 80.3 (F)


Population of principal cities, 1,000s MA = Metropolitan Area

 

COLOMBO

Galle

Jaffna

Kandy1

KOTTE

1800

 

 

4

 

 

1850

40

 

 

 

 

1866

80

 

 

 

 

1871

100

 

 

 

 

1891

127

 

43

 

 

1901

155

37

 

27

 

1910

185

 

40

 

 

1931

284

38

46

37

 

1946

361

49

63

52

 

1953

426

56

77

57

54

1963

 

65

95

68

 

1970

1,250 MA

 

100

 

 

1981

 

76

118

98

101

1993

2,026 MA

86

149

105

110

2001

 

91

 

110

116

2009

 

 

 

 

 

2011

2,324 MA

99

84*

125

 

*Reduction due to civil war.

1Capital of the Kingdom of Kandy, 1480 � 1815; captured by the British 1815. The economic capital is now COLOMBO but to ease congestion, KOTTE has been designated the administrative capital.


Wealth; Gross Domestic Product (nominal values)

 

GDP,

US$ million

Total GDP,

% of USA

GDP per capita,

US$

GDP per capita

% of USA

1948

561

0.25

79

5.18

1956

1,000

0.28

 

 

1960

1,400

0.26

143

4.76

1965

1,700

0.23

150

3.92

1970

2,300

0.22

185

3.53

1975

3,800

0.23

280

3.58

1980

4,020

0.14

272

2.16

1985

5,880

0.14

377

2.06

1990

8,030

0.14

470

1.96

1995

13,020

0.18

710

2.36

2000

16,600

0.17

846

2.32

2005

23,500

0.18

1,260

2.84

2010

56,725

0.38

2,820

5.83

2015

80,600

0.45

3,845

6.84

2016

81,300

0.44

3,835

6.67

GDP by primary sector

 

Agriculture

% GDP

Agriculture

% employed

Industry

% GDP

Industry

% employed

Services

% GDP

Services

% employed

1960

 

56

 

14.0

 

30.0

1980

27.0

54.0

16.1

14.0

57.0

36.0

1990

26.0

49.0

25.3

16.1

48.4

34.0

2000

21.0

38.0

27.0

17.0

52.0

45.0

2010

13.0

32.7

29.6

24.2

57.4

43.1

2016

8.2

28.4

30.6

25.7

82.6

45.9

Communications

Language Official; Sinhala.English, Tamil also used; English was the official language until 1956.The Tamils objected to the change of official language to Sinhala.

 

Sinhala

Tamil

1910

69.0

 

1945

69.0

21.0

1960

69.0

21.0

1990

72.0

21.0

Literacy


20.0% (1901)*

75.0% (1960)

86.5% (1980); 90.5% (M), 82.4% (F)

86.8% (1990); 91.3% (M), 82.0% (F)

90.2% (1995); 93.4% (M), 87.2% (F)

91.9% (2000); 94.5% (M), 89.3% (F)

91.5% (2010); 93.2% (M), 89.9% (F)

92.6% (2015); 93.6% (M), 91.7% (F)


*55.7% of illiterates were female.

Physical communications � roads

 

Roads (km)

Surfaced

(km)

Motor vehicles

Cars

Commercial Vehicles

1941

 

 

 

20,082

4,394

1943

10,547

 

 

 

 

1947

 

 

 

20,892

9,464

1950

 

 

 

32,500

14,800

1956

 

 

81,500

59,100

 

1959

 

 

123,447

74,721

 

1961

19,827

 

 

83,800

 

1968

 

 

161,154

84,678

29,186

1980

 

 

337,382

120,873

55,838

1985

66,176

 

523,723

148,587

98,859

1992

 

 

 

189,477

113,739

1999

73,500

 

 

219,125

323,809

2002

 

 

 

253,447

328,913

2006

91,907

 

800,000

338,608

431,594

2010

114,093

16,977

 

 

 

2013

 

 

5,203,678*

528,094

329,648#

2016

 

 

6,302,141**

672,502

341,911#

*Includes 2,715,727 motor cycles.

**Includes 3,359,501 motor cycles.

#Motor Lorries

Railways; First railway opened 1865, Colombo to Ambepussa.

Length, kilometres


119 (1870)

221 (1880)

308 (1890)

478 (1900)

931 (1910)

1,170 (1920)

1,531 (1930)

1,531 (1940)

1,443 (1950)

1,469 (1956)

1,484 (1964)

1,453 (1985)

1,447 (2003-2014)


Electronic communications, Radio broadcasting from 1923. TV broadcasting began 13 April 1979

 

Telephones (landlines)

Mobile Telephones

Radios

Televisions

PCs

Internet Users

1938

10,424

 

6,007

 

 

 

1940

 

 

9,736

 

 

 

1943

11,718

 

11,628

 

 

 

1947

 

 

18,714

 

 

 

1950

16,860

 

34,000

 

 

 

1960

 

 

350,000

 

 

 

1961

 

 

390,000

 

 

 

1962

32,800

 

 

 

 

 

1968

57,155

 

 

 

 

 

1980

65,000

 

1,700,000

50,000

 

 

1990

121,400

1,010

3,400,000

750,000

3,000

 

1995

 

51,300

3,700,000

1,480,000

20,000

 

1998

 

 

 

 

 

14,000

2000

676,400

430,000

3,900,000

2,200,000

135,000

 

2002

 

 

 

 

 

200,000

2005

1,244,000

3,360,000

 

 

734,000

 

2008

 

 

 

 

 

1,163,500

2010

 

17,539,000

 

 

 

2,100,000

2012

2,796,000

 

 

 

 

 

2016

2,479,802

25,800,000

 

 

 

7,127,000

Tourism: Visitors to Sri Lanka,


320,000 (1980)

275,456 (1985)

298,000 (1990)

403,000 (1995)

400,000 (2000)

549,000 (2005)

654,000 (2010)

1,798,000 (2015)