Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

The former British crown colony Ceylon, since 1972 the Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island state in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the Indian peninsula. The peaks of the central highlands in the south are over 2000 m high. The lowlands are in the north of the country and on the coasts with countless islands in front of them. Due to fertile soils and a tropical monsoon climate with high rainfall, Sri Lanka is a favored country for cultivation. However, the civil war that has raged since 1983 has hampered the country’s rapid economic upswing, which can rely on agriculture and increasing industrialization.

Short for LK on ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG, Sri Lanka comprises the island of Ceylon off the peninsula of India and 23 smaller islands in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is separated from mainland India by the shallow Palk Strait (Fig. 1).

With a land area of ​​65610 km², Sri Lanka is almost as big as the island of Ireland. Sri Lanka is an independent state, the capital is Colombo.

Sri Lanka

Surface shape

The island of Ceylon is characterized by two different types of landscape: The central highlands in the south of the island are geologically a continuation of the highlands of Dean in India. The highest point is the Pidurutalagala with 2524 m height. The high mountains drop steeply over several terrain levels to the lowlands, with impressive deep gorges and waterfalls leading over from level to level.

The coastal regions and the north of the island are occupied by lowlands. In the north and north-west of the lagoon-rich island coast there are numerous small islands.


Sri Lanka is located in the tropical climate zone. The tropical climate of the island with year-round high temperatures of around 27 °C is determined by the seasonal change in the Southeast Asian monsoons (Fig. 4).

There are, however, extremely high regional climatic differences. The greatest differences are in the distribution of precipitation. The south-west monsoon brings abundant rainfall of up to 5700 mm per year to the west and south-west flanks of the mountains and the offshore coastal area. The northeast lying in the rain shadow, however, is quite dry.


In the wetlands in the south-west of the country, the natural vegetation has been largely displaced by plantations. Today there are only remnants of the humid tropical rainforests that once covered the country. For the drier regions of the country in the north, deciduous monsoon forests are typical. Sometimes in thorn savannahs with succulents.

Important data about the country

Surface: 65,610 km²
Residents: 19.2 million
Population density: 293 residents / km²
Growth of population: 0.8% / year
Life expectancy: 74 years
State capital: Colombo
Form of government: Democratic Socialist Republic
Population groups: Sinhalese 74%, Tamils ​​18%, Moors (descendants of Arabs) 7%,
Languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English as a commercial and educational language
Religions: Buddhists (Sinhalese) 69.1%, Hindus (Tamils) 15.5%, Muslims (Moors) 7.6%, Catholics 7%
Climate: tropical monsoon climate
Land use: Arable land 33.8%, forest 36.8%, pasture land 6.8%
Economic sectors:
(share of GDP)
Agriculture 19%, industry 26%, services 55%
Export goods: Tea, rubber, coconuts, spices, petroleum products, precious stones
Gross domestic product: US $ 18,237 million (2003)
Gross National Product: US $ 930 / residents (2003)


For more than two decades there have been civil war-like conflicts in the developing country of Sri Lanka between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and the Hindu-influenced Tamil minority. This has repeatedly damaged the economic upturn.

Nevertheless, the country’s economy stabilized noticeably with increasing industrialization in the 1990’s. The industrial companies concentrated in the Colombo area achieved relatively high growth rates in these years.

The basis of agriculture is rice cultivation. The cultivation areas must z. T. be watered.

In largely nationalized plantations, tea, rubber and coconuts are also produced for export. Sri Lanka is the third largest tea producer in the world after India and China, and the country’s rubber production is seventh in world production.

Traditional handicrafts and tourism are also of great economic importance, although they are currently almost stagnating due to the ongoing civil war.

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka


6th century BC BC: Sinhalese and Tamils ​​colonize the island of Ceylon.

14./15. Century: Portuguese and Dutch take possession of the island.

1815: The island becomes the British Crown Colony of Ceylon.

February 4, 1948: Ceylon is granted independence by the British as a parliamentary monarchy in the British Commonwealth.

1972: Ceylon becomes the Republic of Sri Lanka.

since 1983: Ongoing civil war between the Buddhist Sinhalese and the Tamil minority, interrupted by a ceasefire agreement (1995) between the government and the Tamil rebels, which will soon be broken.