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Country Focus: Sri Lanka



A brief description of current development scenario of a country

Geography

Location :

Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India

Area :

total: 65,610 sq km 
land: 64,740 sq km 
water: 870 sq km

Coastline :

1,340 km

Climate :

tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)

Terrain :

mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior

Natural resources :

limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower

Natural hazards :

occasional cyclones and tornadoes

Environment - current issues :

deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching and urbanization; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff; waste disposal; air pollution in Colombo

People

Population :

21,324,791

Population growth rate :

0.904% (2009 est.)

Birth rate :

16.63 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Death rate :

6.07 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Urbanization :

urban population: 15% of total population (2008) 
rate of urbanization: 0.5% annual rate of change (2005-2010)

Sex ratio :

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female 
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female 
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female 
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Infant mortality rate :

total: 18.57 deaths/1,000 live births 
male: 20.33 deaths/1,000 live births 
female: 16.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth :

total population: 75.14 years 
male: 73.08 years 
female: 77.28 years (2009 est.)

Major infectious diseases :

degree of risk: high 
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A 
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and chikungunya 
water contact disease: leptospirosis 
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)

Religions :

Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)

Languages :

Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%, other 8% 
note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population

Literacy :

definition: age 15 and over can read and write 
total population: 90.7% 
male: 92.3% 
female: 89.1% (2001 census)

Economy

Agriculture - products :

rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef; fish

Industries :

processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining, information technology services

Industrial production growth rate :

6.2% (2008 est.)

Exports :

$8.1 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities :

textiles and apparel, tea and spices; diamonds, emeralds, rubies; coconut products, rubber manufactures, fish

Imports :

$14.05 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities :

textile fabrics, mineral products, petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery and transportation equipment

Write to d-sector  |  Editor's Note
 


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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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