Country's codes

International phone code for Sri Lanka: +94

Standard ISO 3166-1:

    3 letters: LKA

    2 letters (internet domain): .LK

    Digital country code 144

Standard EAN-13 (country barcode): 479

Olympic country code: SRI

FIFA code: SRI

Useful country information

Total area:  25,332 sq mi (65,610 sq km)

Population (2014 est.): 21,866,445 (growth rate: 0.86%); birth rate: 16.24/1000; infant mortality rate: 9.47/1000; life expectancy: 76.35; density per sq mi: 836.6

Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Colombo, 693,000. Legislative and judicial capital: Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, 126,000

Other large cities: Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia 245,974; Moratuwa, 207,755; Negombo, 127,754

Monetary unit: Sri Lanka rupee

Current government officials

Languages: Sinhala 74% (official and national), Tamil 18% (national), other 8%; English is commonly used in government and spoken competently by about 10%

Ethnicity/race: Sinhalese 73.8%, Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%, Indian Tamil 4.6%, Sri Lankan Tamil 3.9%, other 0.5%, unspecified 10% (2001)

Religions: Buddhist 69.1%, Islam 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001)

National Holiday: February 4, Sri Lanka National Day.

Literacy rate: 91.2% (2010 est.)


The Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C., probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced beginning in about the mid-third century B.C., and a great civilization developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (kingdom from circa 200 B.C. to circa A.D. 1000) and Polonnaruwa (from about 1070 to 1200).

In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty seized power in the north and established a Tamil kingdom. Occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century, the island was ceded to the British in 1796, became a crown colony in 1802, and was united under British rule by 1815.

As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. Tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted into war in 1983. Tens of thousands have died in an ethnic conflict that continues to fester. After two decades of fighting, the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formalized a cease-fire in February 2002, with Norway brokering peace negotiations. Violence between the LTTE and government forces intensified in 2006, but neither side has formally withdrawn from the cease-fire.

In May 2009 government forces defeated the LTTE. Since the end of the conflict, the government has enacted an ambitious program of economic development projects, many of which are financed by loans from the Government of China.

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