Road transportation accounts for about 93 percent of the land transportation in Sri Lanka. The country has about 96,695 km (60,083 mi) of roads. The road density is highest in the southwest, especially in the area around Colombo. Buses are the principal mode of public transportation.

Sri Lanka Railways operates the country’s railroad network, which includes about 1,450 km (about 900 mi) of track. Colombo is the node of the network, and train routes connect the main cities of all nine provinces in the country. The railroads were developed during the British colonial period, with the first line from Colombo to Kandy opening in 1867.

Sri Lanka has three deep-water ports, at Colombo, Galle, and Trincomalee. Colombo handles the highest volume of cargo, followed by Galle.

Sri Lankan Airlines is the national airline. Founded in 1979 as Air Lanka, the airline changed its name when it came under partial foreign ownership in 1998. Bandaranaike International Airport, the country’s only international airport, is located in Katunayaka 35 km (22 mi) north of Colombo.


In Sri Lanka there are 44 fixed-access telephones for every 1,000 people, well below the world average of 100 telephones per 1,000 people. The state sector provides fixed-line telephone services. Private companies provide cellular telephone services. The wireless cellular network has helped alleviate the inadequate capacity of the wire-based network. Internet access is increasing, with several Internet service providers (ISPs) competing to provide connectivity.

Radio is a popular instrument of mass communication in Sri Lanka. There are about 211 radio receivers per 1,000 people. Of eight radio stations operating in the country, three are government controlled. Television was introduced in Sri Lanka in 1979. Initially the government was the only service provider. Four independent television networks now broadcast in the country. The government-owned network broadcasts on two channels. There are 108 television sets per 1,000 people.

Nine daily newspapers are published in Sri Lanka. They have a combined circulation of 530,000. A government-owned newspaper-publishing group publishes the English-language Daily News, the Sinhala-language Dinamina, and several other newspapers. All other newspapers are under private, independent ownership.

Foreign Trade

In 2001 the United States was the largest purchaser of Sri Lanka’s exports, accounting for approximately 64 percent of the total value, while the European Union (EU) accounted for about 30 percent. Manufactured goods made up 75 percent of Sri Lanka’s total exports in 1999. When the government of Sri Lanka began to promote export-oriented manufacturing in 1977, manufactured products accounted for only 14 percent of total exports. Textiles and garments became the most significant single category of exports by 1986.

Asian countries are the main exporter of goods to Sri Lanka. Together they provide about 55 percent of Sri Lanka’s total imports. The largest volume of imports comes from India. The principal imports are rice, wheat, sugar, petroleum, and fertilizer.

From: Encartar

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