Cities in SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka is a developing country where almost 7% of the population lives below the poverty line. This is especially true in rural areas where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line.
Despite this, the GNP amounts to $12,900 per year per capita (2017), making Sri Lanka one of the 'middle movers' in Southeast Asia. Despite the country's weak economy, there is no hunger and social services are also reasonable.
The internal war has eroded the annual budget and caused a 30% drop in tourism in the 1990s, while foreign investors have ignored Sri Lanka.
Economic policy is focused on liberalisation, privatisation and is strongly export-oriented. Foreign companies were lured by favourable tax measures and free infrastructure in certain designated zones. Unemployment is quite low at 4.4% of the labour force. All this resulted in GDP growth of 3.3% (2017).
Sri Lanka is increasingly less agricultural, with 27% of the labour force (2017) working in this sector. The manufacturing sector employs 26% of the labour force, its share in GDP is 30.5%.
The trade sector is 'mixed': the government controls imports, the private sector exports. Also important for the economy is the income from remittances from Sri Lankans working in the Arab region.
Agriculture, livestock, fisheries
Rice is the main crop grown for domestic consumption; a third of the total agricultural area is taken up by wet rice cultivation. However, rice imports remain necessary. Rice cultivation is very small-scale: 70% of the approximately 1.8 million rice farmers own less than half a hectare of rice land. The government is trying to achieve an increase in scale through restructuring, but for the poor farmers there are hardly any alternatives.
The plantation sector is of great importance: a large part of Sri Lanka's GDP comes from the cultivation and export of tea, rubber and coconuts. The coconut is mainly cultivated by small businesses. Sri Lanka is still the largest tea exporter in the world.
Other exports include areca nut, cinnamon, coffee and cocoa; maize is produced for the domestic market.
Livestock includes cows, buffaloes, pigs, goats, sheep and poultry. Cattle and buffaloes are mainly used as draught animals.
Fishing is carried out at sea and in inland waters; pearl fishing is also practised.
Mining and Energy
Sri Lanka has few mineral resources. An estimated 2.5 million tonnes of exploitable iron ore is scattered in various locations; beach sand also yields some non-ferrous metals.
Sri Lanka is the world's largest producer of graphite and gemstones are also mined.
Salt is extracted by seawater evaporation. Exploitation of limestone, clay and china clay is beginning. Hydropower is the main source of energy for the island. There are three power generation and irrigation projects, including one in the Mahaweli Ganga. Together they will double the amount of irrigated land.
The area around the capital Colombo is the only area in Sri Lanka with any significant industry.
Main products are graphite products, pharmaceuticals, textiles, ceramics, cement, fertilisers, paper, leather, vegetable oils such as citronella, sugar and rubber products. The government strives to limit imports and nationalised many industries between 1971 and 1977; after that, however, private enterprises were strongly encouraged, among other things by the establishment of a free trade zone near Colombo and by favourable tax facilities.
The garment and textile industry in particular benefited from this and is now one of the main foreign exchange earners. This branch of industry now accounts for more than half of all exports and 70% of industrial exports and exports mainly to the United States and the European Union. The production of clothing and textiles takes place only in three free trade zones.
Important for foreign exchange earnings are the approximately 850,000 Sri Lankans who work overseas, especially in the Middle East. These are mainly women who work as maids in countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. They earn so much money in this way that they can support their entire family back home.
The balance of payments always shows a deficit as a result of price increases of imports (e.g. oil) and price stagnation and decreases of export products. The government stimulates exports and promotes tourism to acquire foreign currency. The total value of imports in 2017 was $21 billion and the total value of exports was $11 billion.
The railway network comprises 1400 km of broad gauge and 60 km of narrow gauge; most lines are single track. The most frequently used railway lines run from the capital Colombo to Kandy, from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya, from Colombo to Galle and Matara and from Colombo to Anuradhapura.
The road network of about 30,000 km is reasonably good, especially in the southwest; the rest of the country is difficult to reach.
The main ports are Colombo, Trincomalee, Galle and Talaimannar. Galle was the main port of the island until Colombo, 116 km to the north, got its artificial port. The Sri Lanka Shipping Corporation is the umbrella state company for shipping.
For inland shipping there is a canal system (153 km) dating back to Dutch colonial times.
Air Lanka provides domestic and international air services. The international airport of Sri Lanka is Katunayake, 30 km north of Colombo.
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CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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