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Country information: Sri Lanka



65.610 square kilometres


21,32 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Colombo (642.163 inhabitants 2001)

Official languages

Singhalese (other languages: Tamil 18% and English)

Gross national product per capita

US $ 4.300 (2008)

Population growth

0,9 % (2009)

Life expectancy

75,1 years (2009)

Infant mortality

18,6 per 1 000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy

7,7 % (2003)




Tourism is an important source of foreign earnings for Sri Lanka. According to UNWTO in 2004, approximately 501 000 guests visited the country and brought 412 million Euro into the country. The largest group of tourists came from Western Europe, 15 per cent more than in the previous year. They are attracted by the various cultural and religious attractions, but also by the opportunities to relax on the spectacular beaches.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

In recent years, many bars and discotheques have been opened in Sri Lanka, partly to cater for growing numbers of tourists. The growth of the recreational infrastructure was accompanied by an increase in prostitution and traficking of humans.

Sri Lanka has caught the headlines as a destination for paedosexuals from Europe and the United States. It is estimated that up to 30 000 children are abused by paedosexual tourists annually. The military and political situation in Sri Lanka has led to the migration of parts of the population, and this has increased the risk for women and children of being abducted for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.


In recent years, tougher laws have been introduced in Sri Lanka to protect children against sexual exploitation. The sexual abuse of minors can be punished with prison sentences of ten to 20 years, and the victims have the right to compensation. Sri Lanka ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on July 12, 1991, and has undertaken to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.


HIV / Aids

With the spread of prostitution, there are also fears of an increase in the frequency of HIV and AIDS. According to estimates by UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation, in 2007 about 3.800 people on Sri Lanka were infected with HIV, including 1.4000 women. How many children were infected, could not be estimated. In the same year, less than 500 people died following infection with HIV.


Local Contacts



Hope for Children, Sri Lanka

128 Lakshapathiya Road,

Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

Phone: +94 1 649 628

Fax: +94 1 647 158



National Child Protection Authority

330, Thalawathugoda Road

Madiweda, Sri Jayawardenepura

Kotte, Sri Lanka

Phone: +94-01-2778911

Fax: + 94-01-2778915


Main contact person(s): Professor Harendra de Silva (


Protecting Environment And Children Everywhere (PEACE)

PO Box 58, Mt Lavinia

Colombo 5, Sri Lanka

Phone: +941 596 855

Fax: +941 502 081



Save the Children in Sri Lanka

58A, Horton Place

Colombo 7, Sri Lanka

Phone: +94 11 2672672

Fax: +94 11 2672671




State and society

Independent since 1948, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a parliamentary democracy with a president as head of state and a National Assembly as legislature.

The society of Sri Lanka is marked by a caste system. Almost three quarters of the population are Singhalese, 18 per cent are Tamils, and 7 per cent Arabic. There is civil strife between the mostly Buddhist Singhalese and the Hindu Tamils, and part of the Tamil minority demand a separate Tamil state. A truce signed in January 1995 was broken shortly afterwards. Nevertheless the human rights situation has improved since the "People's Alliance" came to power in August 1994. In September 2002, with Norwegian mediation, a fragile ceasefire between the government and the "Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam" (LTTE) - the most important Tamil independence movement - was reached. Peace negotiations stalled however, and were subsequently called off completely when in September 2003 early elections were announced and a state of emergency declared. The April 2004 elections resulted in a strengthened position for the President and her „People’s Alliance“ party. The following July, again with Norway taking the lead, peace talks resumed.

Sri Lanka pursues market economy policies - "Capitalism with a human face". The economic system is liberal, and unemployment levels have been reduced by privatisation programmes and by opening up the economy. The services sector now contributes 55 per cent to the gross national product, compared with some 20 per cent each by agriculture and industry. In addition to the export of tea, tourism is an important source of foreign earnings. However, many people in Sri Lanka live in poverty. There is a shortage of drinking water and irrigation systems. Instead of working for their own needs, many peasants produce for exports, hoping to achieve higher profits.



Sri Lanka maintains a free national health service for all, although this is under-funded. The educational system follows the British model and at the primary level local schools are widely available. The rate of illiteracy of ten per cent is very low in comparison with the rest of the region. In order to improve understanding between the various ethnic groups, the government is promoting English as a lingua franca.1