Sri Lanka

The tropical island of Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean, separated from India by 25 miles. Low-lying flatlands fill most of the island, with mountains in the south central region. There are two monsoon seasons — June to October and December to March.

  • Population: 20,860,000
  • Life Expectancy: 75 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 90%
  • School Enrollment: 95%
  • Land Mass: 25,332 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 91%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 17/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 2,290

Facts about Sri Lanka

Child Protection

As of 2009, nearly 6,300 children under the age of 18 have been forcibly recruited to fight in the war.

Disaster Response

After the 2004 tsunami and years of civil conflict, Sri Lanka’s population struggles to recover. Almost a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, and thousands of people are still displaced from their homes by the war.

Food & Agriculture

According to the World Food Program, about 22 percent of children under 5 are malnourished nationally, but the number doubles in areas affected by the civil conflict.

Economic Development

The end of the civil war boosted Sri Lanka’s economy, which made major gains in 2009.

Sri Lanka flag

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Progress in Sri Lanka

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Increased access to safe drinking water and held hygiene trainings to decrease the incidence of childhood cases of diarrhea.

  • Trained youth in new occupations, such as motorcycle repair, hotel management, and masonry, to increase their future employment opportunities.

  • Formed savings groups and offered financial training to families in order to increase their savings and improve their money management.

  • Ensured children's readiness for primary school by strengthening preschools with quality curriculum and trained teachers.

  • Ensured children's safety by conducting awareness trainings at schools and in villages about child protection and abuse prevention.

  • Trained mothers on the importance of breastfeeding for the first six months to reduce malnutrition in children under age five and provided nutritious foods from locally available sources.

  • Improved healthcare infrastructure and trained staff to provide basic healthcare and vaccinations for women and children.

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    World Vision in Sri Lanka Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Sri Lanka to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 15,900 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Sri Lanka. Highlights include:

    • Training farmers in better farming practices and helping them improve connections with local markets.
    • Teaching farmers better techniques on how to breed and care for their animals.
    • Reducing poverty and increasing access to healthcare, clean water, education, and more in local communities.

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    World Vision History in Sri Lanka

    A national office was established in 1977 in Colombo, the nation’s capital, to serve Sri Lankans through disaster relief and development programs. Since then, World Vision has invested over $350 million in programs benefitting the most vulnerable. Some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Opening a rehabilitation center during the 1970s to provide care for vulnerable youth in Colombo.
    • Providing food, clothing, shelter, fruit tree seedlings, and animals for victims of a 1979 cyclone.
    • Promoting self-employment activities, agriculture, and small businesses during the 1980s.
    • Implementing projects like flood relief, agricultural development, and economic development during the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century.
    • Offering microloans and basic business training to victims of the 2004 tsunami to help them rebuild their lives.

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    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    The tropical island of Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean, separated from India by 25 miles. Low-lying flatlands fill most of the island, with mountains in the south central region. There are two monsoon seasons—June to October and December to March.

    Sri Lanka’s population density of 799 people per square mile is one of the highest in Asia. Most people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture to make a living.

    The Sinhalese people make up 74 percent of the population, while the Tamils form the largest minority group at 18 percent. Other groups include the Vedda, the Moors, the Burghers, and the Malays.

    Sinhala and Tamil are the two official languages of Sri Lanka. About 10 percent of Sri Lankans speak English, mostly for educational and commercial purposes.

    History

    Known as Ceylon prior to 1972, Sri Lanka became an English Crown colony in 1802. Nationalist leaders finally obtained independence nearly 150 years later. The country’s first prime minister made Sinhala the official national language and Buddhism the state-supported religion.

    The Tamil minority’s growing resentment toward the Sinhalese’s power monopoly erupted into civil war in 1983. By early 2000, 17 years of civil war claimed the lives of over 64,000 people—mostly civilians. The government and Tamil rebels agreed to a cease-fire in February 2002, but sporadic fighting continued.

    A tsunami in December 2004 killed about 38,000 people in Sri Lanka. Escalating violence threatened a deal between the government and rebels to share an international aid package for the country’s rebuilding.

    In January 2008, the Sri Lankan government called off the cease-fire agreement and fighting intensified in the north and east. The death toll from the war stood at an estimated 70,000 people in 2009, with more than 500,000 still displaced, mostly Tamils. In May 2009, the government declared victory after the death of the rebel leader.

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    Prayer Requests for Sri Lanka

    • Better, safer wells to be built, so communities can access clean water.
    • Schools to provide children access to the early education that will help them succeed later.
    • Families recovering from heavy floods.
    • People displaced by the civil war to find jobs and food as they return to their homes.