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About three fifths of the main island Ceylon are flat and low. Three levels can be distinguished. The first, with a height between 30 and 120 m above sea level, stretches from the west coast to the north, which is completely occupied by it – only interrupted by individual island mountains. A plain between 300 and 750 m high encloses a third area, which is between 1 500 and 1 800 m high in the southern part. On it rises a mountain massif, in which the highest mountain of the country, the 2 524 m high Pidurutalagala, as well as Adam’s Peak with 2 243 m lies.

Numerous rivers rise in the central highlands. The most important and longest river of the island state is the Mahaweli (Singhalese for “Great Sandy River”), which rises in the western mountain country, runs northwards through the tea and rubber plantations and finally flows into the Indian Ocean south of Trincomalee. It and its most important tributary, the Amban Ganga, feed hydroelectric power stations and dams that irrigate the dry north and generate energy.

Political System

According to the Constitution of 1978, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a unitary presidential republic with a parliamentary-democratic order. Head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the army is the president (since January 2015 Maithripala Sirisena). He is directly elected by the people for a term of six years. His sphere of power includes the right to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister (since January 2015 Ranil Wickremesinghe) and his cabinet.

The parliament consists of a chamber with 225 deputies, who are elected for six years according to a modified proportional system in the individual districts. The legal system is a mixture of British common law, Roman law, Muslim law and Sinhala law. Sri Lanka is administratively divided into nine provinces. Each province is administered by a directly elected Provincial Council.

Travel and Tourism

Sri Lanka had been a popular destination for sun worshippers for decades, but then tourism collapsed due to the ongoing conflicts. After the end of the civil war in 2009 and the completion of the reconstruction process, the island state is now once again a destination for beach holidaymakers, but is also fascinating for its rich culture and its very different natural regions from deserts to tropical rainforests. The effects of the 2004 tsunami on tourism have now also been overcome. With the elimination of the tsunami consequences, more modern structures have emerged in many places. In addition to the package deals, providers of individual Sri Lanka trips offer very personal access to the country and its inhabitants.


The country’s economic situation is relatively stable. Moderate inflation rates and declining unemployment are positive signals that the market policy introduced since 1994 is producing positive results. However, without fundamentally questioning the market economy, the privatization of state-owned enterprises is no longer being continued. The effects of the tsunami, which had a particularly strong impact on fishing and tourism since the end of 2004, are no longer felt economically.

Agriculture, which once dominated the economy, now accounts for only 11% of GDP. However, tea exports still account for a large proportion of foreign exchange income. Services account for the largest share of the gross domestic product at 56 % (mainly trade and tourism), followed by industry at 33 %. Textile production is the most important industrial sector.

The country’s most important imported goods are oil, textiles and clothing, food, chemical products and machinery; its most important exports are clothing, textiles and tea. Almost a quarter of Sri Lanka’s products are delivered to the USA, a further 11% to Great Britain. Imports come mainly from India, China and the United Arab Emirates.

An international airport is located near the capital Colombo, which also has the island’s main port. The currency is the Sri Lanka rupee.