The country's economy is mainly agricultural-based, but
also the light industry and the service sector are
important. Despite a costly civil war and recurring misery,
the country's economy grew by about 5 percent during the
1990s, a growth rate that, with the exception of 2001, when
Columbus's airport was subjected to terrorist acts, was
largely maintained during the 00s. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the state receives large
revenues from around 1.5 million foreign-working locals.
In the late 1970s, a socialist regulatory economy was
abandoned, and market forces were given more leeway, a
development that was further accentuated during the 1990s.
The economic development has largely been guided by the
country's dependence on the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank, as well as foreign lenders and assistance.
Agriculture and fishing
The formerly sharp boundary between an export-oriented
plantation sector and a people-supplying smallholder sector
has in recent years become increasingly diffuse. An
increasing proportion of the most important export crops
(tea, rubber and coconuts) are grown by small farmers, while
the production of basic foodstuffs has become more market
oriented. The country's rice production has increased
substantially in recent decades, mainly thanks to increased
cultivation area but also through the introduction of
domestically developed high-yielding plants.
Fishing is an important and growing industry. In 2007,
318,600 tonnes of sea fish were landed.
Minerals and energy
The country is relatively rich in minerals, which form
the basis for some local industry, such as the production of
glass, ceramics, salt and brick. Graphite, gemstones, iron
ore and ilmenite are also extracted, of which the first two
are important export goods. Sri Lanka has no known assets on
oil or coal. During the 1980s, an extensive expansion of
water energy was carried out, for example through Swedish
assistance to the power plant in Kotmale, and water energy
is the completely dominant source of electricity.
The manufacturing industry mainly manufactures consumer
goods such as textiles, clothing, cigarettes and food. Until
the beginning of the 1990s, most of the heavier industry was
state-owned, but since then the production of graphite, gas
and rubber products has been increasingly privatized. In
recent decades, through tax relief and other benefits, the
authorities have sought to stimulate industrial
establishment in special investment zones (IPZs).
Sri Lanka has had a negative trade balance for an
extended period. The main import goods are oil, raw
materials for the textile industry and workshop products,
but also basic foods such as wheat, rice and sugar are
imported. In terms of value, imports from India are the most
significant. The most important export goods are textiles,
tea, rubber products, coconuts and precious stones. The main
export market is the United States.
Tourism and gastronomy
Sri Lanka is a tourist country with a pleasant climate,
fine sandy beaches and clean bathing water. In 2016, the
country had just over 2 million visitors, mainly from India
and the UK. Most tourists live in one of the coastal resorts
north or south of the capital Colombo. In Mount Lavinia, 13
km south of Colombo, the British governor's summer residence
has been transformed into hotels with partly well-preserved
Further south are the resorts of Hikkaduwa and Galle, the
latter with building memories from the Portuguese and Dutch
colonial times. Colombo also holds an important memorial
from the Dutch era in the famous Wolfendahl church.
Otherwise, the capital of the capital is characterized by
monumental buildings from the 19th century as well as
well-stocked market blocks. The National Museum's
collections of sculptures and ethnographies are worth a
The largest resort is Negombo north of the capital, with
nice beaches for divers. From here, there are paths to the
major cultural attractions in the interior, listed on
UNESCO's World Heritage List. In Anuradhapura there are many
Buddhist shrines from the centuries before Christ and in
Polonnaruva the remains of a well-planned capital from the
11th-11th centuries. Nature lovers can see, among other
things, leopard and bear in Wilpattu National Park near
Anuradhapura. For ornithologists there are also bird
sanctuaries in the south and southeast.
In the island's inland mountains lies the town of Kandy,
with palaces and shrines from the last Sinhalese kingdom.
There are also octagonal temples in which a tooth from the
Buddha is preserved, to which many Buddhists pilgrimage. The
neighborhood around Adam's Peak is also sacred. At the top
is a temple over a 1.5 meter long depression. Islamic
pilgrims attribute the imprint Adam; the Buddhists put it in
connection with the Buddha and the Hindus with Shiva. In
Nuwara-Eliya, the British created an even well-preserved
place of recreation.
Sri Lankan cuisine is very similar to the South Indian.
Most dishes are vegetarian and the offerings may appear
limited to rice, curry and dhal (lentil porridge),
but one curry dish is rarely the same as the other.
In common, however, they are generally very spicy. If you
want a milder version you should look for white curry
or kiri, which is cooked on coconut milk. Fresh
seafood is featured in many recipes, either grilled whole
and served with lentils, spiced rice or medium
(shredded vegetables with cumin and coconut) or included in
dishes such as simore (fish in strong sauce) or
kiri malu (mild fish curry). A distinctive Sri Lankan
dish is hoppersor string hoppers (small
rice flour pancakes) with fish or curry eaten for breakfast
or with syrup as dessert. Another is lamp rice,
rice cooked in meat broth which, together with a curry stir,
is packed in banana leaves and baked in the oven. Pastries
and desserts carry an unmistakable Dutch feature: at
Christmas, the breudher is eaten like a Dutch yeast
bun. The wattle patch is a steamed egg cream with
the same origin.