General Information


Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka, known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, was called in ancient times (Tabroban) then the veteran Arab traders who came from the Arabian Peninsula, called it as "Serendib". Sri Lanka colonized by Portuguese, Dutch and British, and named as "Ceylon", then it turned to the present name "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka" after being freed from colonialism in 1948.

Portuguese Colonialism in Sri Lanka

A new era in the history of Sri Lanka began in 1505 when the Portuguese arrived. The Portuguese sought cinnamon (a very valuable spice). In 1517 they sent an expedition to Colombo and asked permission to build a fort there. King Vijayabahu of Kotte reluctantly assented. However the Portuguese then ordered the king to sell them his cinnamon at a price fixed by them. When the king refused to do so, the Portuguese used force. In 1518 the king of Kotte was forced to agree to give cinnamon to the Portuguese each year as tribute.

Increasing Portuguese demands led to a war in 1520-21, which the Portuguese won. The king lost the support of his people and he was overthrown by his 3 sons.

The eldest son Bhuvanekbahu VI became King. He reigned until 1551. However he agreed to give his 2 brothers principalities of their won within Kotte to rule.

The largest of these became the kingdom of Sitavaka. The smallest was based on Rayigama but when its ruler died in 1538 it was absorbed into Sitavaka.

In time the states of Kotte and Sitavaka began to quarrel. The rulers of Sitavaka resented the increasing Portuguese influence in Kotte. So Kotte and Sitavaka fought a number of wars. Each time Kotte was forced to look to the Portuguese for help. So inevitably Portuguese influence in Kotte increased.

In 1551 King Bhuvankbahu was assassinated and the Portuguese installed a puppet ruler in Kotte. Meanwhile Catholic missionaries were at work in Kotte. In 1557 the puppet ruler became a Catholic. Many of his subjects also converted.

Finally in 1597 the Portuguese annexed Kotte and Sitavaka. In 1619 they annexed Jaffna. Only Kandy was still independent.

The Portuguese made several attempts to conquer Kandy, in 1594, 1603 and 1629, without success.

Dutch Colonialism in Sri Lanka

In 1636 King Rajsinha of Kandy turned to the Dutch for help. (The power of Portugal was declining while Dutch power was increasing.) In 1637 he received Dutch envoys. In 1638 the Portuguese invaded again but they were crushed at the battle of Gannoruwa. Afterwards the Dutch agreed to capture the Portuguese held ports on the Sri Lankan coast in return for their expenses.

Between 1638 and 1640 the Dutch captured certain ports but they held onto them instead of giving them to Kandy, claiming their expenses had not been paid. The Dutch and Portuguese made peace in 1640 but war resumed in 1652. Once again the kingdom of Kandy formed an alliance with the Dutch. This time the Dutch attacked Colombo and they captured it in 1656. However they refused to hand it over to Kandy. Instead they pushed inland. In 1658 they captured Jaffna. That was the end of Portuguese rule in Sri Lanka.

The Dutch extended their rule and in 1665 they captured Tincomalee on the east coast.

Kandy remained independent and continued to exist uneasily beside the Dutch colony until 1760 when war broke out between them. The Dutch won the war and they forced Kandy to accept a humiliating treaty. Kandy was forced to recognize Dutch sovereignty over all the Sri Lankan coast line, even those parts that formerly belonged to Kandy, to a depth of 4 Sihanalese miles.

British Colonialism in Sri Lanka (CEYLON)

However in 1796 Dutch rule gave way to British. In that year the British annexed Colombo and Jaffna and Dutch rule was extinguished.

The British were keen to conquer Kandy. They gained their opportunity in 1815. Kandy was ruled by Sri Wickrama Rajasiha (1798-1815). He was a cruel king and was deeply unpopular with his subjects. Some of his nobles conspired with the British to get rid of him. The British army invaded Kandy and met little resistance. The king fled abroad.

However in 1817-18 there was a rebellion in parts of Kandy against British rule but it was crushed.

At first the British trod cautiously. Trial by jury was introduced in 1811 and the British built a network of roads. Then in 1833 they introduced wide-ranging reforms. English was made the official language and the administration was reformed. Slavery was abolished in 1844.

In the early 19th century the British created large plantations for growing coffee. Import duties on coffee in Britain were reduced and coffee drinking became more common. Exports of Sri Lankan or Ceylonese coffee boomed and large numbers of laborers from India were brought to work on the plantations.

However from the 1870s the coffee crop was devastated by the slow spread of a fungus called hemileia vastratrix. In the late 19th century tea replaced coffee as the main Ceylonese crop. Rubber and coconuts were also important crops. Also in the late 19th century both Hinduism and Buddhism revived in Ceylon. In the early 20th century Sri Lankan nationalism grew. The Ceylon National Congress was formed in 1919.

In 1910 the Ceylonese were allowed to elect one member of the legislative council and in 1924 the British made further concessions. However the Ceylonese were not satisfied. In 1931 Ceylon was granted a new constitution. From then on the legislature was elected by universal suffrage. However the Ceylonese demanded complete independence. Yet another constitution was introduced in 1946 but in 1947 the British announced that India was to become independent. The Ceylonese now demanded their independence and in June 1947 the British agreed to make Sri Lanka a dominion. Sri Lanka became independent on 4 February 1948.

Geographical location

Location of Sri Lanka is between 6 - 10 of North Latitude and Between 80 - 82 of East Longitude. The country has maximum Length of 435 km (Devundara to Point Pedro) and maximum width of 225 km (Colombo - Sangamankanda). Central and bit of southern Sri Lanka is hilly. Coastal area is made of flat and rolling plains. Land Area is 65,610 Sq. km. Pidurutalagala, also known as Mt Pedro, is Sri Lanka's highest point at 2,524 meters (8,281 ft). Another significant mountain is Sripada or Adam's Peak, also more than 2,000 meters tall.


  • Total area 65,610
  • Land area 62,705
  • Inland water 2,905
  • Maximum length km. 435
  • Maximum breadth km. 225
  • Coastal area: 1340 km.

Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Distribution of land

  • 13%: arable areas
  • 16%: permanent crops
  • 71%: Other Uses


Sri Lanka has warm climate, moderated by ocean winds and considerable moisture. Lowlands and coastal Sri Lanka have hot humid climate. On the hills the climate is salubrious. Both types of climates are separated by a few hours motoring. In Colombo, the commercial capital, located on the west coast, the temperature differs from 26.4 C to 27.8 C. Relative humidity is 70% during days while at nights it reaches 90%. Lowland country enjoys tropical climate. The climate is quite cool in hilly regions. At the altitude of nearly 2,000 meters the temperature goes down to 16ºC. May, June and July are the hottest months of the year.

Average Temperature

The average yearly temperature in Sri Lanka as a whole ranges from 28 to 30oC. The mean temperature varies from a chilly low of 16ºC in Nuwara Eliya in the Central Highlands, where even frosting might occur for several days in the winter, to a high of 32o C in Trincomalee on the northeast coast. The coastal areas are cooled by sea breezes.


As for monsoons Sri Lanka has no off season. North-east monsoon brings rain in the northern and eastern regions in December and January while the western, southern and central regions of the island get rain from May to July due to the south west monsoon.


Rainfall over Sri Lanka is governed by its tropical location as well as by the monsoonal regime and thus has a strong seasonal variation in the rainfall pattern. Furthermore, the northward and southward migrations of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) during the year also govern the climate. Four seasons were identified in past studies. These are the Northeast monsoon from December to February, South-West monsoon from May to September, First inter monsoon from March to April and second inter monsoon from October to November.

Annual rainfall 2540 mm to over 5080 mm in south west of the Island. Less than 1250 mm in the North West and South East of the Island.



Situated in the western province of Sri Lanka, Colombo is the island's capital. Diverse and vibrant, the city is the administrative and economic center of the country.

The history of the city itself dates to the 5th century. Due to its prime location on the western coast of Sri Lanka, Colombo grew as a seaport for trade between Asia and the West. It was used by the Moors, Romans, Arabs, Persians, and Chinese ships for the island's much sought after cinnamon and gems.

The name 'Colombo' was first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505 and is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese name 'Kolon thota' (port on the river Kelani) or 'Kola-amba-thota' (harbor with leafy mango trees).

In 1593, the Portuguese, who had gained control of the Western coast of Sri Lanka, made Colombo their center. Subsequently, the Dutch, in 1638, joined with King Rajasingha II (King of Kandy) to battle against the Portuguese, who were defeated in 1639. Colombo remained a central hub for the Dutch and the Dutch Maritime Provinces, controlled by the Dutch East India Company until 1796. At this point, the British captured the city, and in 1815, proclaimed Colombo the capital of Ceylon. It continues to remain so, even after Independence from the British in 1948.

The city offers historical monuments, colonial architecture, beaches, and fine dining and shopping. Its architecture has been influenced by Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonization. The British influence is clearly visible in the buildings located in the Fort, an area where the larger business houses and the stock exchange are situated. Close by is Pettah, a bustling marketplace with each section of the bazaar selling its own specialty, ranging from food items to shoes to gold; wholesale markets are found here.

The New Parliament is situated at Sri Jayawardenapura on the outskirts of Colombo, while the Old Parliament on Galle Road is now the Presidential Secretariat.

Galle Face Green is where the locals gather on the weekend to enjoy the cool breeze from the Indian Ocean and a stroll along the promenade. Nearby are temples, mosques, and churches catering to the diverse population that enrich the culture of the city.

Ehtnic Groups

People of Sri Lanka are divided into four ethnic groups. These are the Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Muslims, and the Burghers. Two chief characteristics that mark a person's ethnic heritage are language and religion. Sinhalas are the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka. Historians have concluded that groups from north India who migrated to the island around 500BC were later known as Sinhalas. Most Sinhalas are the followers of Buddhism.

Buddhist monasteries are the centres of cultural life for the Sinhalese. Forefathers of the Tamils migrated to Sri Lanka from southern India particularly Tamil Nadu. Most Tamils in Sri Lanka are Hindus. Lankan Tamils are united by their common religious beliefs, and the Tamil language and culture. As for the Lankan Muslims they have separate places of worship, religious and cultural heroes, ways of society, and even languages. Lankan Muslim community can be segregated into three main sections--the Sri Lankan Moors, the Indian Moors, and the Malays, each with its own history.


Sri Lanka's population practices a variety of religions. As of the 2011 census 70.19% of Sri Lankans were Theravada Buddhists, 12.6% were Hindus, 9.7% were Muslims (mainly Sunni) and 7.4% Christians (6.1% Roman Catholic and 1.3% other Christian). In 2008 Sri Lanka was the third most religious country in the world according to a Gallup poll, with 99% of Sri Lankans saying religion is an important part of their daily life. 


The Sinhala language is spoken by the Sinhalese people, who constitute approximately 75% of the national population and total about 13 million. The Tamil language is spoken by Sri Lankan Tamils, as well as by Tamil migrants from the neighboring Indian state of Tamil Nadu and by most Sri Lankan Moors.

English in Sri Lanka is fluently spoken by approximately 10% of the population, and widely used for official and commercial purposes. The Muslim community in Sri Lanka widely uses Arabic for religious purposes.

Ethnicity in Sri Lanka (2012)

  • Sinhalese (74%)
  • Tamil (18%)
  • Other (8%)

Literacy rate

92.63% in 2015

Transport and communications

Sri Lanka has a well-developed transport system, including a road network of approximately 100,000 kilometers (62,140 miles). A rail network consisting of about 1,944 kilometers (1,208 miles) of tracks links Colombo with the rest of the country. With a rising number of vehicles, and the need for a more efficient road network to facilitate the movements of goods and services, the government is actively engaged in improving, rehabilitating, and extending the existing network.

Sri Lanka has 14 airfields, the largest of which is the Bandaranaike International Airport, the principal gateway to Sri Lanka. The country is serviced by several Airlines, both domestic and foreign, and the national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines, handles about 56 percent of international passengers to and from Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) is responsible for operating the ports. The SLPA operates 4 major ports in Colombo, Galle (in the south), Trincomalee (in the east), and Kankesanturai (in the north).

Hydropower is the major source of electricity, accounting for 66 percent of the nation's electricity supply. One of the main sources of hydropower is the gigantic Mahaweli Scheme, which has harnessed the flow of Sri Lanka's longest river in several stages. The remainder is generated through thermal power (34 percent) and most recently, wind power.

Telecommunications is the fastest growing sector in the country. Sri Lanka Telecom Ltd. (SLT) is the major supplier.


Food of Sri Lanka is hot and spicy. Base food of the inhabitants of the island is rice which they consume with curry both veg and meat based. Almost every household in Sri Lanka takes rice and curry as its main meal. All the dishes are cooked on the base of coconut milk and flavored by liberal use of spices.



The flag of Sri Lanka  consists of a yellow lion holding a kastane sword in its right fore paw in a dark red background with four yellow bo leaves in each corner of the background. Around the background is a yellow border and to its left are two vertical stripes of equal size in green and saffron, with the saffron stripe closest to the lion. The lion represents bravery of Sri Lankans. The four Bo leaves represent four main concepts of Buddhism Mettā, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha. The stripes represent the two main minority groups. The saffron stripe represents Tamils and the green stripe represents Muslims, and the maroon background represents the majority Sinhalese. The yellow border around the flag represents the unity of Sri Lankans.

Working days in week

Government departments works five days a week, from Monday to Friday.

Working hours

(Government offices) from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, from Monday to Friday.

Public Holidays

Sri Lanka characterized by abundant holidays which exceed more than three months a year due to the diverse beliefs of communities (Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians).


Banks are operating from 9 am to 1:00 pm or 3:00 pm, from Monday to Saturday.

Time zone

UTC + 6



International phone code