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Encyclopedia > Economy of Sri Lanka
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Economy of Sri Lanka
Currency Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Trade organisations SAFTA, WTO
GDP $27.4 billion ($95.55 billion PPP) (2006)
GDP (PPP) ranking 63rd (2006)[2]
GDP growth 7.7% (2006)[3]
GDP (PPP) per capita $4,600 (2006)
GDP (PPP) per capita ranking 138th (2006)
GDP by sector agriculture (17.3%), industry (27.3%), services (55.3%) (2006)
Inflation 11.3% (2006)[3]
Pop below poverty line 22.7% (2002)[4]
Labour force 7.5 million (2006)
Labour force by occupation agriculture (34.3%), industry (25.3%), services (40.4%) (2006)
Unemployment 6.3% (2006)[3]
Main industries rubber processing, tea, coconuts, and other agricultural commodities. telecommunications, insurance, banking, clothing, cement, petroleum refining, textiles, tobacco
Trading Partners [1]
Exports $7.076 billion (2006)
Export - Commodities textiles and apparel, tea and spices, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, coconut products, rubber manufactures, fish
Main partners United States 31.3%, United Kingdom 12.2%, India 8.9%, Germany 4.3% (2005)
Imports $9.655 billion (2006)
Imports - Commodities textile fabrics, mineral products, petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery and transportation equipment
Main Partners India 20.7%, Singapore 8.3%, Hong Kong 7.3%, China 7.1%, [Iran] 5.9%, Malaysia 4.4%, Japan 4.3% (2005)
Finances [2]
Public debt 89.6% of GDP (2006)
External debt $12.23 billion, (44.6% of GDP) (2006)
Revenues $5.61 billion (2006)
Expenses $8.39 billion (2006)
Economic aid $808 million (recipient)(2006)

With an economy of $27.4 billion [3] ($95.5 billion PPP estimate [4]), and a per capita GDP of about $4,700 (PPP), Sri Lanka has mostly enjoyed strong growth rates in recent years. Sri Lanka began to shift away from a socialist orientation in 1977. Since then, the government has been deregulating, privatizing, and opening the economy to international competition. Twenty years of civil war has no doubt slowed economic growth [5], diversification and liberalization, and the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) uprisings, especially the second in the late 1980s, also caused extensive upheavals. Image File history File links Current_event_marker. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... ISO 4217 Code LKR User(s) Sri Lanka Inflation rate 11. ... The rupee is the official currency of Sri Lanka, divided into 100 cents. ... The South Asia Free Trade Agreement is an agreement reached at the 12th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit at Islamabad, capital of Pakistan on 6 January 2004. ... For other uses of the initials WTO, see WTO (disambiguation). ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Services are: plural of service Tertiary sector of industry IRC services Web services the name of a first-class cricket team in India This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Map of countries showing percentage of population who have an income below the national poverty line The poverty line is the level of income below which one cannot afford to purchase all the resources one requires to live. ... 2002 is a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Services are: plural of service Tertiary sector of industry IRC services Web services the name of a first-class cricket team in India This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... Tea leaves in a Chinese gaiwan. ... Binomial name Cocos nucifera L.. The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera L.), is a member of the Family Arecaceae (palm family). ... The word commodity has a different meaning in business than in Marxian political economy. ... Telecommunication involves the transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication. ... Insurance, in law and economics, is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent loss. ... For other uses, see Bank (disambiguation). ... Clothing protects the vulnerable nude human body from the extremes of weather, other features of our environment, and for safety reasons. ... In the most general sense of the word, cement is a binder, a substance which sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. ... Pumpjack pumping an oil well near Lubbock, Texas Ignacy Łukasiewicz - inventor of the refining of kerosene from crude oil. ... This article is about the type of fabric. ... Shredded tobacco leaf for pipe smoking Tobacco can also be pressed into plugs and sliced into flakes Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in genus Nicotiana. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the type of fabric. ... Girls wearing formal attire for dancing, an example of one of the many modern forms of clothing. ... Tea leaves in a Chinese gaiwan. ... External links Wikibooks Cookbook has more about this subject: Spice Food Bacteria-Spice Survey Shows Why Some Cultures Like It Hot Citat: ...Garlic, onion, allspice and oregano, for example, were found to be the best all-around bacteria killers (they kill everything). ... This article is about the gemstone. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Binomial name L. For other uses, see Coconut (disambiguation). ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Fish (disambiguation). ... 2005 is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... “fabric” redirects here. ... A variety of fabric. ... A mineral is a naturally occurring substance formed through geological processes that has a characteristic chemical composition, a highly ordered atomic structure and specific physical properties. ... Pumpjack pumping an oil well near Lubbock, Texas Ignacy Łukasiewicz - inventor of the refining of kerosene from crude oil. ... Foodstuffs is a New Zealand co-operative grocery distributer and franchiser for its three supermarket brands - New World, Pakn Save and 4 Square. ... A machine is any mechanical or electrical device that transmits or modifies energy to perform or assist in the performance of tasks. ... 2005 is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Per capita is a Latin phrase meaning for each head. ... Socialism is a social and economic system (or the political philosophy advocating such a system) in which the economic means of production are owned and controlled collectively by the people. ... The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is an ongoing conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and a minority terrorist group consisting of Ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils on the island-nation of Sri Lanka. ... The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (Sinhala janatā vimukti peramuṇa, Peoples Liberation Front) is a nationalist Marxist political party in Sri Lanka. ...

Following the quelling of the JVP, increased privatization, reform, and a stress on export-oriented growth helped revive the economy's performance, taking GDP growth to 7% in 1993. Economic growth has been uneven in the ensuing years as the economy faced a multitude of global and domestic economic and political challenges. Overall, average annual GDP growth was 5.2% over 1991-2000. In 2001, however, GDP growth was negative 1.4%--the first contraction since independence. The economy was hit by a series of global and domestic economic problems and affected by terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and the United States. The crises exposed the fundamental policy failures and structural imbalances in the economy and the need for bold reforms. The year ended in parliamentary elections in December, which saw the election of a more pro-capitalism party to Parliament (while the socialist leaning Sri Lanka Freedom Party retained the Presidency). This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Capitalism generally refers to an economic system in which the means of production are all or mostly privately[1][2] owned and operated for profit, and in which investments, distribution, income, production and pricing of goods and services are determined through the operation of a free market. ... The Sri Lanka Freedom Party is one of the major political parties in Sri Lanka. ...

The government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe of the United National Party has indicated a strong commitment to economic and social sector reforms, deregulation, and private sector development. In 2002, Sri Lanka commenced a gradual recovery. Early signs of a peace dividend were visible throughout the economy--Sri Lanka has been able to reduce defense expenditures and begin to focus on getting its large, public sector debt under control. In addition, the economy has benefited from lower interest rates, a recovery in domestic demand, increased tourist arrivals, a revival of the stock exchange, and increased foreign direct investment (FDI). In 2002, economic growth bounced up to 4%, helped by strong service sector growth. Agriculture staged a partial recovery. At present Agriculture in Sri Lanka needs keen attention as it directed towards disastorus situation. Industrial sector growth, however, faltered for the second consecutive year due to weak demand and lower prices for Sri Lanka's exports. The government was able to exert fiscal control, and inflation trended down. Total FDI inflows during 2002 were about $246 million and are expected to exceed $300 million in 2003. The largest share of FDI has been in the services sector. Good progress was made under the Stand By Arrangement, which was resumed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These measures, together with peaceful conditions in the country, have helped restore investor confidence and created conditions for the government to embark on extensive economic and fiscal reforms and seek donor support for a poverty reduction and growth strategy. However, the resumption of the civil-war in 2005 led to a steep increase defence expenditures. The increased violence and lawlessness also prompted some donor countries to cut back on aid to the country.[6][7]. Sri Lanka has also accumulated a 9.2 % deficit and the central bank has not intervened since late 2006 to print more currency [8]. A sharp rise in world petroleum prices combined with fallout from the civil war has led to inflation hitting 20%. A prime minister is the most senior minister of a cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. ... Hon. ... The United National Party, often referred to as the UNP Sinhalese: එක්සත් ජාතික පක්ෂය (pronounced Eksath Jathika Pakshaya), Tamil: ஐக்கிய தேசியக் கட்சி), is a leading political party in Sri Lanka. ... An interest rate is the rental price of money. ... Main focus about Sri Lanka agriculture is to achieve an equitable and sustainable agriculture development through development and dissemination of improved agriculture technology. ... This article needs additional references or sources to facilitate its verification. ...

Foreign exchange reserves, which fell by 11% in 1999, decreased further in 2000. In response, the government floated the rupee on January 23, 2001. This led to a significant nominal depreciation in 2001, but the rupee has since stabilized and reserves have gradually been replenished. The foreign exchange (currency or forex or FX) market exists wherever one currency is traded for another. ...

The year 2003 is poised to be another eventful year for Sri Lanka. Continued peace has allowed further progress on macroeconomic stabilization during the first half of the year. Economic growth has picked up to 5.5% in the first quarter, from 0.5% in the comparable period in 2002. This growth was largely driven by the services sector (particularly telecom and tourism), and the industrial sector posted modest growth. Both exports and imports have risen 13% in the first 4 months. Interest rates are declining. The inflation rate hovers around 9%. External reserves were sufficient to cover 5.1 months of imports. The Colombo Stock Exchange has rebounded to become one of the better performers in the area. The CSE rose 45% in 2002 and hit a record high in June 2003 as business confidence continued to expand. Fortunately, the SARS epidemic did not spread to Sri Lanka, and tourism was not severely affected. Sri Lanka's garment exporters reported a surge in orders, shifted from China due to SARS. On the negative side, in mid-2003 Sri Lanka experienced its worst floods in 50 years, which caused extensive damage in south and southwestern parts of the country. The government is relying on donor funding to reconstruct the flood-damaged areas, avoiding recourse to government finances. The adverse impact from floods on overall growth for 2003 is estimated to be marginal. Severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS is a respiratory disease in humans which is caused by the SARS coronavirus. ...

Economic recovery is expected to consolidate during the rest of 2003, and GDP growth for the year is predicted at 5.5%, increasing to 6.5% in 2004. All major sectors of the economy are expected to expand. This growth will, however, depend on the continuation of the peace process, policy adjustments (particularly budgetary control), and structural reforms. Recovery in the global economy also is important as well as effective aid utilization. According to the Finance Minister, the fiscal deficit is forecast to decline to 7.5% of GDP in 2003, with the government instituting more controls on fiscal management. Given Sri Lanka's high debt burden (105% of GDP), fiscal consolidation is central to budget planning and macroeconomic programming. Stagnant government revenue, however, remains a big worry in 2003.

The future of Sri Lanka's economic health is uncertain but largely dependent on the continuation of the peace process, political stability, and continued policy reforms--particularly in the area of fiscal discipline and direct management. Implementation of major reforms in the civil service and education sectors and more disciplined spending and improved revenue collection would help generate stronger economic growth. If privatization continues and export orientation strengthens, weaknesses in government will have less impact on growth. Real growth is expected to continue in the 4%-6% range beyond 2003 but may remain below the 8%-9% growth needed to move quickly into the status of a middle-income or newly developed country.

Other challenges include diversification from Sri Lanka's key exports--tea and garments. Garment exports will face increased competition in a quota-free era when the Multi Fiber Arrangement expires in 2005. The future of the tea industry is threatened by a shortage of plantation labor and growing competition. There are new efforts to diversify exports, explore tourism potential, and improve competitiveness. The government has an ambitious information and communications technology strategy to connect and service every corner of the country. This project, if implemented successfully, could change Sri Lanka's economy and social fabric and would take it into the information age. The government hopes to take advantage of Sri Lanka's strategic location on shipping routes, make use of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement, and sign free trade agreements with other countries to achieve regional trading hub status. If peace returns and all these efforts bear fruit, real growth could be in the 6%-7% range beyond 2004, and will help realize the government's intention of making Sri Lanka the gateway to South Asia. Map of South Asia (see note on Kashmir). ...

The service sector is the largest component, accounting for of 54% GDP. In 2003, the service sector continued its strong expansion, fueled primarily by strong growth in telecom and financial services. Public administration and defense expenditures have remained steady. Repatriated earnings of Sri Lankans working abroad continued to be strong. Tourism continues to be a significant contributor to this sector as well, although it has not reached full potential due to continued worries about the conflict. There also is a small but growing information technology sector, especially information technology training and software development and exports.

Manufacturing accounts for about 15.9% of GDP. The textile, apparel, and leather products sector is the largest, accounting for 44% of total industrial output. The second largest industrial sector, at 24% of total manufacturing output, is food, beverages, and tobacco (this sector grew by 4.6% in 2002). The third-largest industrial sector is chemical, petroleum, rubber, and plastic products--16% of output, with 5.7% growth in 2002.

Agriculture has lost its relative importance to the Sri Lankan economy in recent decades. It accounts for 20.1% of GDP and provides employment to 33% of the working population. Rice, the staple cereal, is cultivated extensively. The plantation sector consists of tea, rubber, and coconut; in recent years, the tea crop has made significant contributions to export earnings and saw production increases of about 5% in 2002. Tea prices have continued to decline due to record world tea output in recent years. The construction sector accounts for 7.4% of GDP and mining and quarrying 1.8%. In recent years, the government has eliminated many price controls and quotas, reduced tariff levels, eliminated most foreign exchange controls, and sold more than 55 state-owned companies and 20 estate-holding companies. Colombo boasts one of the most modern stock exchanges in the region, and the Sri Lankan Government offers a range of tax and other incentives to attract potential investors. For other uses, see Rice (disambiguation). ... Tea leaves in a Chinese gaiwan. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... Binomial name L. For other uses, see Coconut (disambiguation). ...


Credit Rating and Commercial Borrowing

Sri Lanka had applied for credit ratings from international agencies in its efforts to apply for loans from international markets in 2005 after the election of Mahinda Rajapakse as president. Standard and Poor's has rated Sri Lanka a "B+" speculative ("junk") rating, four grades below investment grade. Fitch has rated Sri Lanka with "BB-" which is three grades below investment grade. Standard and Poor's maintains Sri Lanka is constrained by providing widespread subsidies, a bloated public sector, transfers to loss-making state enterprises, and high interest local and international burdens [9]. Standard and Poor's estimates public sector debt has reached 95 % of GDP [10], in comparison to CIA estimates of 89 % of GDP [11]. Sri Lanka in mid-2007 sought to borrow $500 million from international markets to shore up the deteriorating exchange rate and reduce pressure on repayment of the domestic debt market [12]. The head of the opposition UNP, Ranil Wickremasinghe has warned that such intense borrowing is unsustainable and will not repay these loans once elected to power [13].

Currency Control

Sri Lanka had switched to a floating currency after a worsening currency crisis due to sterilized intervention in January 2001 [14]. Foreign reserves had been exhausted defending the rupee from free fall during the 1990s. By 2004, sterilized intervention was resumed to prevent further depreciation of the rupee and was eased off in 2005 after a rush of foreign aid due to the tsunami. By 2006, sterilized intervention was restarted as the rupee lost further ground. The IMF categorizes the Sri Lankan rupee as a managed float [15]. By 2006, the rupee depreciated by 5 % and depreciated a further 4.2 % within the first half of 2007 [16]. This has been due to flight of capital out of the country because of rising uncertainty and resumption of the longstanding civil war. The rupee has been under pressure due to widening trade and budget deficit, increased cost of living, cost of fuel imports and rising inflation. The rising uncertainty has given rise to a thriving black market for trading between dollars and rupees. Official trading through the central bank has been problematic for many traders, coming under increasing moral persuasion to avoid selling rupees for the sake of national interests [17].

Trade and Foreign Assistance

Exports to the United States, Sri Lanka's most important market, were valued at $1.8 billion in 2002, or 38% of total exports. For many years, the United States has been Sri Lanka's biggest market for garments, taking more than 63% of the country's total garment exports. India is Sri Lanka's largest supplier, with exports of $835 million in 2002. Japan, traditionally Sri Lanka's largest supplier, was its fourth-largest in 2002 with exports of $355 million. Other leading suppliers include Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea. The United States is the 10th-largest supplier to Sri Lanka; U.S. exports amounted to $218 million in 2002, according to Central Bank trade data--U.S. Customs data places U.S. exports to Sri Lanka at $166 million in 2002. Wheat accounted for 14% of U.S. exports to Sri Lanka in 2002, down from the previous year.

Sri Lanka is highly dependent on foreign assistance, and several high-profile assistance projects were launched in 2003. The most significant of these resulted from an aid conference in Tokyo in June 2003; pledges at the summit, which included representatives from the IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan, the European Union and the United States totaled $4.5 billion. ... The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established in 1966 to promote economic and social development in Asian and Pacific countries through loans and technical assistance. ...


More than 20% of the 6.1 million-strong labor force, excluding the north and east, is unionized. Trade union membership is on the decline. There are more than 1,650 registered trade unions, many of which have 50 or fewer members, and 19 federations. Many unions have political affiliations. The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) and Lanka Jathika estate workers union are the two largest unions representing workers in the heavily unionized plantation sector. The president of the CWC also is Minister of Livestock Development and Estate Infrastructure. The CWC's agenda includes political issues, such as citizenship status for stateless Indian Tamils. Some of the stronger and more influential trade unions include the Ceylon Mercantile Union, Sri Lanka Nidhahas Sevaka Sangamaya, Jathika Sevaka Sangayama, Ceylon Federation of Trade Unions, Ceylon Bank Employees Union, Union of Post and Telecommunication Officers, Conference of Public Sector Independent Trade Unions, and the JVP-aligned Inter-Company Trade Union. The unemployment rate has declined in recent years and hovers at 10%. The rate of unemployment among high school and college graduates, however, remains proportionally higher than the rate for less-educated workers. The government has embarked on educational reforms it hopes will lead to better preparation of students and fewer mismatches between graduates and jobs. In addition, it also has begun a youth corps program to provide employment skills to the unemployed. A trade union or labor union is a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment. ...

Macro-economic trend

This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Sri Lanka at market prices estimated by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Sri Lankan Rupees.

Year Gross Domestic Product US Dollar Exchange
1980 66,167 16.53 Sri Lankan Rupees
1985 162,375 27.20 Sri Lankan Rupees
1990 321,784 40.06 Sri Lanakn Rupees
1995 667,772 51.25 Sri Lankan Rupees
2000 1,257,637 77.00 Sri Lankan Rupees
2005 2,363,669 100.52 Sri Lankan Rupees

For purchasing power parity comparisons, the US Dollar is exchanged at 27.69 Sri Lankan Rupees only.

In 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for market-oriented policies and export-oriented trade. Sri Lanka's most dynamic industries now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. By 1996 plantation crops made up only 20% of exports (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for 63%. GDP grew at an annual average rate of 5.5% throughout the 1990s until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-98 with growth of 6.4% and 4.7% - but slowed to 3.7% in 1999. For the next round of reforms, the central bank of Sri Lanka recommends that Colombo expand market mechanisms in nonplantation agriculture, dismantle the government's monopoly on wheat imports, and promote more competition in the financial sector. A continuing cloud over the economy is the fighting between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, which has cost 65,000 lives in the past 15 years. Government The President of the Republic, directly elected for a 6-year term, is chief of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces. ... LTTE is an acronym or initialism for: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Known for their guerilla warfare forcibly killing every other independent groups aiming for seperate state. ...


  1. ^ The World Factbook, Sri Lanka
  2. ^ The World Factbook, Rank Order - GDP
  3. ^ a b c Department of Census & Statistics, Economic Performance 2006
  4. ^ 'Department of Census & Statistics, Official Poverty Line for Sri Lanka

External links

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Sri Lanka, in full, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, island republic in the Indian Ocean, lying off the southeastern tip of the Indian subcontinent.
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