- Brief Look
- Fun Facts
- Sri Lanka in OBOR
- A Little More About Sri Lanka
- General Information
A Very Brief Look at the Country
Regardless of the amount of knowledge about the country Sri Lanka, one would at least have heard of the Ceylon Tea – the name given to tea leaves grown on the island country of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka was one of the places where the famous mariner Zheng He had visited. He had erected a stone table inscription on the island, now preserved in the Colombo National Museum.
Once a colony of the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British, Sri Lanka suffered from a over-20-year-long civil war. As if Sri Lanka could take in more, it was furtherly hit by a disastrous tsunami in 2004. The country of smiling people had come a long way, but its natural harbours have enabled the country to be strategically important in the commercial world, which is how Sri Lanka has quickly picked up to be an important place in the sea logistics as well as in the One Belt One Road Initiatives.
- In Sri Lanka, shaking your head from side to side means “yes”, while nodding indicates a “no”
- Before tea plantation was introduced to Sri Lanka, it was in fact the world’s largest coffee exporter until a serious leaf disease destroyed most of the coffee plants in mid-19th century
- Cinnamon was first discovered in Sri Lanka by the Egyptians
- It is common for Lankans to have rice and curry for breakfast!
- The name of the country in Sinhalese (one of the official languages) is “Shri Lanka Prajatantrika Samajavadi Janarajaya Ilankai Jananayaka Choshalichak Kutiyarachu”
- The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree in Sri Lanka is the world’s oldest human-planted tree, and is also believed to be a sapling from the Bodhi tree, where Gautama Buddha was enlightened beneath
- Asia’s first ever radio station was established in 1923 in Sri Lanka, and it has been running till this day
- Sri Lanka was the first country in the world’s history to create a hospital
- The capital of Sri Lanka is commonly known to be the city of Colombo, but officially the capital is a placed called Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, where Colombo is only part of the whole capital
- Sri Lanka has many large natural harbours. The British back in WWII had stated that they could fit their entire navy in the harbor of Trincomalee, located in north eastern part of Sri Lanka, with room to spare
- Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka, but in fact the national sport is volleyball
Sri Lanka has relatively high purchasing power parity when compared to some of its neighbours. After the civil war ended in 2009, there has been an increase in the domestic demand and foreign direct investment. Tourism has also blossomed since then. The country’s economy now mainly depends on tourism, garment manufacturing, and exports of agricultural products and clothing.
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s most important producers of tea, where tea-related industry has a labour force of over 1 million people. Cinnamon, rubber and rice are among some important agricultural products planted in Sri Lanka, and agriculture sector makes up to 12% of the GDP. Considering the 12% does not consist of a large portion of value-added agricultural goods, one can imagine the scale of the agricultural sector.
The country manufactures and exports garment, mostly to the US and European countries. The US is Sri Lanka’s largest garment export destination that accounts to 63% of its total exports in garment. Gemstones including diamonds can also be found in Sri Lanka, forming about 4.7% of its total exports.
India is the most important trading partner of Sri Lanka’s, and is its 2nd biggest foreign direct investment provider. Apart from India, other significant trading partners include China, the US, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
Sri Lanka has developed a number of modern water ports since the British colonial period, and its geographical advantage has granted it an important position in the global sea logistics. It currently has 7 operating ports, where the Port of Colombo is the biggest in the country and is one of the top 10 largest ports in Asia outside China.
Sri Lanka has an area slightly less than that of Ireland’s. Located south of India, the teardrop-shaped island is surrounded by the Indian Ocean in the West coast and Bay of Bengal in the East coast. Flat coastal plains form most part of the country, where there is a cluster of mountains concentrated in the mid-south area.
Sri Lanka has a great biodiversity owing to its tropical forests and productive marine ecosystems. The island itself consists of an astounding 24 wildlife reserves. It is home to a wide range of native species including sloth bears, peacocks, deer, Indian pangolins, elephants, leopards, etc. Marine life is closely related to its coral reef, with many exotic fishes as well as a number of threatened fishes.
Sri Lanka in OBOR
- It is a founding member of the AIIB
- The Colombo South Port expansion project has started construction in 2011 to increase the capacity by 160% upon completion, as the port is reaching its full capacity. The first stage of the expansion project is completed in 2014 (see footnote 1)
- Phase one of the Hambantota Port development has already been completed, with Phase two on its way
- The current Bandaranaike International Airport will build a second runway, while a new international airport at Mattala in the southern Hambantota district is currently under construction
- Sri Lanka has signed 8 MOUs with China in 2014, covering joint development on economic, technical, medical, agricultural and film
- Sri Lanka has also signed a memorandum with 23 other OBOR countries on broadcast collaboration in July 2015 to strengthen people-to-people exchange and cultural understanding
Footnote 1: Current construction has been suspended due to political reasons
A Little More About Sri Lanka
Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka about 2000 years ago. Back then the emperor of the country invested massive amounts of time and efforts to promoting the religion, and today 70% of the population practice Buddhism. Unlike the customs in Chinese communities, believers do not necessarily have to be vegetarians in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankans seem to have always possessed the wisdom to social development. Ancient Sri Lankans are known for being good architects and being experts in town planning. The ancient city of Sigiriya, a UNESCO listed world heritage site, epitomizes this. Even in the current world, Sri Lanka claims one of the top countries in terms of high human development index in Asia, despite the fact that it was a martyr of a long-term civil war that had only ended within a decade.
The country’s geographical location has remained significantly important in the world’s history and development: from back in the time of the ancient Silk Road, through to the WWII, till today in the “One Belt One Road” initiatives.
As sea ports in Sri Lanka have reached their full capacities, there are schemes to build new ports, and to expand current ones. Based at Colombo and Hambantota, these port projects are funded by Chinese SOEs and the government of China, but the projects are currently suspended at the moment due to various reasons, including political ones. Albeit Sri Lanka’s significant importance in the “Road”, locals’ fear of an increasing Chinese influence and the newly elected president’s ambition to undermine such influence, as well as concerns over the attitude of India on working closely with China (India is a significant supplier of goods to Sri Lanka) may together foreshadow Sri Lanka’s concrete participation in the OBOR.
|Capital||. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
. The capital is often known as Colombo, but officially it is the “greater” Colombo called Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte that also covers Colombo
. Sri Lankan Rupee is not to be confused with Indian Rupee
. 100 Sri Lankan Rupee roughly = 4~6 HK Dollars
|Population||. 20.27 million (2012 census)|
|Official language||. Sinhalese, Tamil|
|Timezone||. GMT + 5:30
. (2.5 hours behind Hong Kong)
|Climate||. Tropical, with two different monsoon seasons affecting different parts of the country throughout the year|