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Sri Lanka Economy

    Economy—overview: 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%. 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 Sinhalese and the minority Tamils, which has cost 50,000 lives in the past 15 years. The global slowdown will temper growth in 1999.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$48.1 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 4.7% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$2,500 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 18%
    industry: 31%
    services: 51% (1997)

    Population below poverty line: 35.3% (1990-91 est.)

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 3.8%
    highest 10%: 25.2% (1990)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9.3% (1998)

    Labor force: 6.2 million (1997)

    Labor force—by occupation: services 46%, agriculture 37%, industry 17% (1997 est.)

    Unemployment rate: 11% (1997 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $3 billion
    expenditures: $4.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $1 billion (1997 est.)

    Industries: processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, and other agricultural commodities; clothing, cement, petroleum refining, textiles, tobacco

    Industrial production growth rate: 6.5% (1996 est.)

    Electricity—production: 5.05 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 4.95%
    hydro: 95.05%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 5.05 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: rice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef

    Exports: $4.5 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

    Exports—commodities: textiles and apparel, tea, diamonds and other gems, coconut products, rubber products, petroleum products (1997)

    Exports—partners: US 36%, UK 11%, Japan 6%, Germany 5%, Belgium-Luxembourg 4% (1997)

    Imports: $5.3 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

    Imports—commodities: machinery and equipment, textiles, petroleum, building materials, sugar (1997)

    Imports—partners: India 10%, Japan 9%, South Korea 8%, Hong Kong 7%, Taiwan 7% (1997)

    Debt—external: $8.8 billion (1998)

    Economic aid—recipient: $559.3 million (1995)

    Currency: 1 Sri Lankan rupee (SLRe) = 100 cents

    Exchange rates: Sri Lankan rupees (SLRes) per US$1—67.948 (January 1999), 64.593 (1998), 58.995 (1997), 55.271 (1996), 51.252 (1995), 49.415 (1994)

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)