Sri Lanka facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Anthem: Sri Lanka Matha
Mother Sri Lanka
Location of Sri Lanka
Capital Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte
Largest city Colombo
Official languages Sinhala
Demonym(s) Sri Lankan
Government Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
• President
Maithripala Sirisena
• Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe
• Speaker of the Parliament
Chamal Rajapaksa
• Chief Justice
Mohan Peiris
• Total
65,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi) (122nd)
• Water (%)
• 2010 estimate
20,238,000 (56th)
• Mid 2010 census
• Density
308.5/km2 (799.0/sq mi) (44th)
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
• Total
$158 billion (66th)
• Per capita
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
• Total
$64 billion (73rd)
• Per capita
Gini (2010) 36
HDI (2011) Increase 0.691
medium · 97th
Currency Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
Time zone UTC+5:30 (Sri Lanka Standard Time Zone)
• Summer (DST)
not observed
Driving side left
Calling code 94
ISO 3166 code LK
Internet TLD .lk, .ලංකා, .இலங்கை

The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (in Sinhala in Tamil) is a tropical island nation off the southeast coast of the Indian subcontinent. The capital of the country is Sri Jayawardanapura while the largest city is Colombo.

It was known as Ceylon before 1972, and Serendib and Sinhale, among other names, before that. It was South Asia's oldest democracy.

Ethnic make-up

Sri Lanka has three main ethnic groups. They differ in their religions and origins, and there has often been difficulties between the groups. The total population of the island is over 20 million people, and rapidly expanding.

The largest of the three groups is the population of Sinhalese people, most of whom are Buddhist, and who have their own language, Sinhala. They make up about 75% of the population.

The second largest group is the Tamil people, who are Hindu. There are about 2,271,000 Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The third largest group is the Sri Lankan Moors, who are Muslim. There are over one and a half million people in this group. They use Tamil as their language today.

There are a number of smaller ethnic groups, of which the Veddas are notable because they may be the original inhabitants of the island, or at any rate the earliest to survive today. They have "indigenous people" status in the island.

European influences

The island was subject to waves of European settlement and eventually colonisation. The Portugese in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries, and lastly the British from 1796 to 1948. The British, always interested in trade, developed plantations of coffee and tea. Tea was planted after a fungus destroyed the coffee plantations in 1869. The tea plantations were the basis of Sri Lankan prosperity for a hundred years. Lastly, rubber plantations were started in the early 20th century. In 1965, Ceylon became the world's leading exporter of tea, with 200,000 tonnes of tea being shipped internationally annually.

Independence from the British was got in 1948, together with Dominion status in the British Commonwealth of Nations. In 1972, Ceylon changed its name officially to the Republic of Sri Lanka, and is still a member of the Commonwealth.

In 2009 came the end of a long civil war between Sinhalese and Tamils. Since then tourism has rapidly grown as a source of foreign investment and currency.

National symbols of Sri Lanka


The Sri Lanka flag is also known as the Lion flag because of the Lion on it. The Lion is holding a sword in its right paw. There is a crimson background with four leaves in each corner. There is a yellow border. On the left of the flag there are the colors green and saffron.

The lion represents bravery. The four leaves represents Karuna, Meththa, Muditha and Upeksha. The orange stripe represents the Sri Lankan Tamils and the green stripe represents the Sri Lankan Moors.


Sri Lanka has 9 provinces.

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Sri Lanka Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.