OFFICIAL NAME:Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
GeographyArea: 65,610 sq. km. (25,332 sq. mi.); about the size of West Virginia.Cities: Capital-Colombo (pop. est. 1.3 million-urban area) Sri Jayewardenepura-Kotte is the officially designated capital and is the site of Parliament, but it is currently only an administrative center. Other cities-Kandy (150,000), Jaffna (100,000), Galle (80,000).Terrain: Coastal plains in the northern third of country; hills and mountains in south-central Sri Lanka rise to 2,133 meters (7,000 ft.).Climate: Tropical. Rainy seasons-light in northeast, fall and winter, with average rainfall of 50 in.; heavy in southwest, summer and fall, with average rainfall of 200 in.
PeopleNationality: Noun and adjective-Sri Lankan(s).Population (1999): 19.04 million.Annual growth rate: 1.4%.Ethnic groups: Sinhalese (74%), Tamils (18%), Muslims (7%), others (1%) Religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.Languages: Sinhala and Tamil (official), English.Education: Years compulsory-to age 14. Primary school attendance-96.5%. Literacy-91%.Health: Infant mortality rate-17/1,000. Life expectancy-71 yrs. (male)/75 yrs. (female).Work force: 6.1 million.
GovernmentType: Republic.Independence: February 4, 1948. Constitution: August 31, 1978.Suffrage: Universal over 18.Branches: Executive-President: chief of state and head of government, elected for a 6-year term. Legislative-Unicameral 225-member Parliament. Judicial-Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, Subordinate Courts. Administrative subdivisions: nine provinces and 25 administrative districts. (The Northern and Eastern provinces, however, have been jointly administered since 1988.) Political parties: United National Party, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Communist Party of Sri Lanka, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, several ethnic Tamil and Muslim parties, and others.
Economy (1999)GDP: $15.8 billion.Annual growth rate: 4.3%.Natural resources: Limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, and phosphate. Agriculture (16.9% of GDP): Major products-rice, tea, rubber, coconut, and spices.Industry (17.2% of GDP): Major types-garments and leather goods, chemicals, refined petroleum, wood products, basic metal products, and paper products.Trade: Exports-$4.6 billion; garments and footwear, tea, rubber products, jewelry and gems, refined petroleum, and coconuts. Major markets-U.S. ($1.7 billion), U.K., Germany, Japan, Belgium. Imports-$5.9 billion. Major suppliers-Japan, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, U.K., U.S. ($167 million).
PEOPLEThe Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) is an island in the Indian Ocean approximately 28 kilometers (18 mi.) off the southeastern coast of India with a population of about 19 million. Density is highest in the southwest where Colombo, the country’s main port and industrial center, is located. The net population growth is about 1.4%.
Sri Lanka is ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse. Sinhalese make up 74% of the population and are concentrated in the densely populated southwest. Ceylon Tamils, citizens whose South Indian ancestors have lived on the island for centuries, total about 12% and live predominantly in the north and east.
Indian Tamils, a distinct ethnic group, represent about 6% of the population. The British brought them to Sri Lanka in the 19th century as tea and rubber plantation workers, and they remain concentrated in the “tea country” of south-central Sri Lanka. In accordance with a 1964 agreement with India, Sri Lanka granted citizenship to 230,000 “stateless” Indian Tamils in 1988. Under the pact, India granted citizenship to the remainder, some 200,000 of whom now live in India. Another 75,000 Indian Tamils, who themselves or whose parents once applied for Indian citizenship, now wish to remain in Sri Lanka. The government has stated these Tamils will not be forced to return to India, although they are not technically citizens of Sri Lanka.
Other minorities include Muslims (both Moors and Malays), at about 7% of the population; Burghers, who are descendants of European colonists, principally from the Netherlands and the U.K.; and aboriginal Veddahs.
Most Sinhalese are Buddhist; most Tamils are Hindu. The majority of Sri Lanka’s Muslims practice Sunni Islam. Sizable minorities of both Sinhalese and Tamils are Christians, most of whom are Roman Catholic. The 1978 constitution, while assuring freedom of religion, grants primacy to Buddhism.
Sinhala, an Indo-European language, is the native tongue of the Sinhalese. Tamils and most Muslims speak Tamil, part of the South Indian Dravidian linguistic group. Use of English has declined since independence, but it continues to be spoken by many in the middle and upper middle classes, particularly in Colombo. The government is seeking to reverse the decline in the use of English, mainly for economic but also for political reasons. Both Sinhala and Tamil are official languages.
HISTORYThe actual origins of the Sinhalese are shrouded in myth. Most believe they came to Sri Lanka from northern India during the 6th century BC. Buddhism arrived from the subcontinent 300 years later and spread rapidly. Buddhism and a sophisticated system of irrigation became the pillars of classical Sinhalese civilization (200 BC-1200 AD) that flourished in the north-central part of the island. Invasions from southern India, combined with internecine strife, pushed Sinhalese kingdoms southward.
The island’s contact with the outside world began early. Roman sailors called the island Taprobane. Arab traders knew it as “Serendip,” the root of the word “serendipity.” Beginning in 1505, Portuguese traders, in search of cinnamon and other spices, seized the island’s coastal areas and spread Catholicism. The Dutch supplanted the Portuguese in 1658. Although the British ejected the Dutch in 1796, Dutch law remains an important part of Sri Lankan jurisprudence. In 1815, the British defeated the king of Kandy, last of the native rulers, and created the Crown Colony of Ceylon. They established a plantation economy based on tea, rubber, and coconuts. In 1931, the British granted Ceylon limited self-rule and a universal franchise. Ceylon became independent on February 4, 1948.
Post-Independence PoliticsSri Lankan politics since independence have been strongly democratic. Two major parties, the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), have generally alternated rule.
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The UNP ruled first from 1948-56 under three Prime Ministers-D.S. Senanayake, his son Dudley, and Sir John Kotelawala. The SLFP ruled from 1956-65, with a short hiatus in 1960, first under S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and then, after his assassination in 1959, under his widow, Sirimavo, the world’s first female chief executive in modern times. Dudley Senanayake and the UNP returned to power in 1965.
In 1970, Mrs. Bandaranaike again assumed the premiership. A year later, an insurrection by followers of the Maoist “Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna” (JVP, or “People’s Liberation Front”) broke out. The SLFP government suppressed the revolt and declared a state of emergency that lasted 6 years.
In 1972, Mrs. Bandaranaike’s government introduced a new constitution, which changed the country’s name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka, declared it a republic, made protection of Buddhism a constitutional principle, and created a weak president appointed by the prime minister. Its economic policies during this period were highly socialist and included the nationalization of large tea and rubber plantations and other private industries.
The UNP, under J.R. Jayewardene, returned to power in 1977. The Jayewardene government opened the economy and, in 1978, introduced a new constitution based on the French model, a key element of which was the creation of a strong executive presidency. J.R. Jayewardene was elected President by Parliament in 1978 and by nationwide election in 1982. In 1982, a national referendum extended the life of Parliament another 6 years.
The UNP’s Ranasinghe Premadasa, Prime Minister in the Jayewardene government, narrowly defeated Mrs. Bandaranaike (SLFP) in the 1988 presidential elections. The UNP also won an absolute majority in the 1989 parliamentary elections. Mr. Premadasa was assassinated on May 1, 1993 by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (“LTTE” or “Tigers”), and was replaced by then-Prime Minister Dingiri Banda Wijetunga, who appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe Prime Minister.
The SLFP, the main party in the People’s Alliance (PA) coalition, returned to power in 1994 for the first time in 17 years. The PA won a plurality in the August 1994 parliamentary elections and formed a coalition government with Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga as Prime Minister. Prime Minister Kumaratunga later won the November 1994 presidential elections and appointed her mother (former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike) to replace her as Prime Minister. President Kumaratunga won re-election to another 6-year term in December 1999. In August 2000, Mrs. Bandaranaike resigned as Prime Minister for health reasons, and Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka was appointed to take her place. The PA remained the largest political group in the October 2000 parliamentary elections and retained power in a coalition with a Muslim and a Tamil party.
Communal Crisis Historical divisions continue to have an impact on Sri Lankan society and politics. From independence, the Tamil minority has been uneasy with the country’s unitary form of government and apprehensive that the Sinhalese majority would abuse Tamil rights. Those fears were reinforced when S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike triumphed in the 1956 elections after appealing to Sinhalese nationalism. His declaration that Sinhala was the country’s official language-an act felt by Tamils to be a denigration of their own tongue-was the first in a series of steps over the following decades that appeared discriminatory to Tamils. Tamils also were concerned about government agriculture programs that encouraged Sinhalese farmers from the south to move to newly irrigated lands in the east.
The decades following 1956 saw intermittent outbreaks of communal violence and growing radicalization among Tamil groups. By the mid-1970s Tamil politicians were moving from support for federalism to a demand for a separate Tamil state-“Tamil Eelam”-in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, areas of traditional Tamil settlement. In the 1977 elections, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) won all the seats in Tamil areas on a platform of separatism. Other groups-particularly the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers)-sought an independent state by force.
In 1983, the death of 13 Sinhalese soldiers at the hands of the LTTE unleashed the largest outburst of communal violence in the country’s history. Hundreds of Tamils were killed in Colombo and elsewhere, tens of thousands were left homeless, and more than 100,000 fled to south India. Members of the TULF, the official opposition, lost their seats in Parliament when they later refused to swear a loyalty oath in Sinhala, a new constitutional requirement. The north and east became the scene of bloodshed as security forces attempted to suppress the LTTE and other militant groups. Terrorist incidents occurred in Colombo and other cities. Each side in the conflict accused the other of violating human rights. The conflict assumed an international dimension when the Sri Lankan government accused India of supporting the Tamil insurgents.
Indian PeacekeepingBy mid-1987, India intervened in the conflict by air-dropping supplies to prevent what it felt was harsh treatment and starvation of the Tamil population in the Jaffna peninsula caused by an economic blockade by Colombo. Under a July 29, 1987 accord (the Indo-Lanka Accord) signed by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President Jayewardene, the Sri Lankan Government made a number of concessions to Tamil demands, which included devolution of power to the provinces, merger-subject to later referendum-of the northern and eastern provinces, and official status for the Tamil language. India agreed to establish order in the north and east with an Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and to cease assisting Tamil insurgents. Militant groups, although initially reluctant, agreed to surrender their arms to the IPKF.
Within weeks, however, the LTTE declared its intent to continue its armed struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam and refused to disarm. The IPKF found itself engaged in a bloody police action against the LTTE. Further complicating the return to peace was a burgeoning Sinhalese insurgency in the south. The JVP, relatively quiescent since the 1971 insurrection, began to reassert itself in 1987. Capitalizing on opposition to the Indo-Lankan Accord in the Sinhalese community, the JVP launched an intimidation campaign against supporters of the accord. Numerous UNP and other government supporters were assassinated. The government, relieved of its security burden by the IPKF in the north and east, intensified its efforts in the south. The JVP was crushed but at a high cost in human lives.
From April 1989 through June 1990, the government engaged in direct communications with the LTTE leadership. In the meantime, fighting between the LTTE and the IPKF escalated in the north. India withdrew the last of its forces from Sri Lanka in May 1990, and fighting between the LTTE and the government resumed. Both the LTTE and government forces committed serious human rights violations. In January 1995, the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE agreed to a cessation of hostilities as a preliminary step in a government-initiated plan for peace negotiations. After 3 months, however, the LTTE unilaterally resumed hostilities. The government then adopted a policy of military engagement with the Tigers, with government forces liberating Jaffna from LTTE control by mid-1996 and moving against LTTE positions in the northern part of the country called the Vanni. An LTTE counteroffensive begun in October 1999 reversed most government gains and by May 2000 threatened government forces in Jaffna. That offensive was, in turn, also halted. Military operations continue in the north. The fighting has taken thousands of lives on both sides.
Separatist violence is largely confined to the north and eastern provinces, which are 6 to 8 hours by road from the capital. Still, terrorist bombings directed against politicians and civilian targets have occurred in Colombo, Kandy, and elsewhere in the country. In July 2001, an LTTE suicide squad attacked the Bandaranaike International Airport outside of Colombo and destroyed a large number of military and civilain aricraft. In October 1997, the U.S. Government designated the LTTE as a foreign terrorist organization under provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. It was re-designated as a terrorist organization in October 1999 and again in October 2001.
GOVERNMENTThe President of the Republic, directly elected for a 6-year term, is chief of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces. Responsible to Parliament for the exercise of duties under the constitution and laws, the president may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of Parliament with the concurrence of the Supreme Court.
The president appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers responsible to Parliament. The president’s deputy is the prime minister, who leads the ruling party in Parliament. A parliamentary no-confidence vote requires dissolution of the cabinet and the appointment of a new one by the president.
Parliament is a unicameral 225-member legislature elected by universal suffrage and proportional representation to a 6-year term. The president may summon, suspend, or end a legislative session and dissolve Parliament. Parliament reserves the power to make all laws.
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Sri Lanka’s judiciary consists of a Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, and a number of subordinate courts. Sri Lanka’s legal system reflects diverse cultural influences. Criminal law is fundamentally British. Basic civil law is Roman-Dutch. Laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, and inheritance are communal.
Under the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of July 1987-and the resulting 13th amendment to the constitution-the Government of Sri Lanka agreed to devolve significant authority to the provinces. Provincial councils are directly elected for 5-year terms. The leader of the council majority serves as the province’s Chief Minister; a provincial governor is appointed by the president. The councils possess limited powers in education, health, rural development, social services, agriculture, security, and local taxation. Many of these powers are shared or subject to central government oversight. Predating the accord are municipal, urban, and rural councils with limited powers.
Principal Government OfficialsPresident-Chandrika Bandaranaike KumaratungaPrime Minister-Ratnasiri WickramanayakaForeign Minister-Lakshman KadirgamarAmbassador to the United States-Warnasena RasaputramAmbassador to the United Nations-John de Saram
Sri Lanka maintains an embassy in the United States at 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-4834025)
POLITICAL CONDITIONSSri Lanka’s two major political parties-the UNP and the SLFP-embrace democratic values, international nonalignment, and encouragement of Sinhalese culture. Past differences between the two on foreign and economic policy have narrowed. The SLFP, however, envisions a broader role for the state in general.
Sri Lanka has a multi-party democracy that enjoys considerable stability despite relatively high levels of political violence. LTTE terrorist activities, generally aimed at destabilizing Sri Lanka politically and economically, have included assassination of politicians-killing the Industrial Development Minister by suicide bombing in June 2000; bombing of economic targets such as the central bank in January 1996, the World Trade Center in October 1997, and the airport in July 2001; as well as attacks on Buddhist religious sites: in January 1998, the LTTE detonated a truck bomb in Kandy, damaging the Temple of the Tooth relic, the holiest Buddhist shrine in the country.
ECONOMYWith an economy of $15.8 billion, and a per capita GDP of about $830, Sri Lanka has enjoyed modest growth rates in recent years. Sri Lanka began to shift away from a socialist orientation in 1977. Since then, the government has been deregulating, privatizing, and opening the economy to international competition. The ethnic disputes of 1983 precipitated a slowdown in economic diversification and liberalization. The JVP uprising in the late 1980s caused extensive upheavals and economic uncertainty. Following the quelling of the JVP, increased privatization, reform, and a stress on export-oriented growth helped revive the economy’s performance, taking GDP growth to 7% in 1993.
Economic growth has been uneven in the ensuing years as the economy faced a multitude of global and domestic economic and political challenges. Divisive elections in 1994 slowed growth moderately, with GDP expanding by 5.5% in both 1994 and 1995. In 1996, growth slowed further-to 3.8%-due mainly to a drought and resulting power cuts, along with major terrorist attacks in Colombo. Growth picked up in 1997 to 6.3%.
The Asian financial crisis took less of a toll on the economy of Sri Lanka in 1997 than elsewhere in the region, due in part to exchange controls on the capital account and relatively low exposure to short-term foreign debt. But by the middle of 1998, the Sri Lankan economy started to slow markedly. The economy was hit by delayed effects of the Asian economic crisis, global recession, domestic and regional political problems, and the Russian economic crisis, resulting in sharply lower tea prices and terrorist bombings in civilian areas. The slowdown has continued as Sri Lanka’s key export industry, garments, suffered the effects of a global economic slowdown.
Nuclear detonations by neighboring India and Pakistan in May 1998 had a chilling effect on foreign commercial and investor interest in Sri Lanka, especially on the Colombo stock market. Consequently, growth moderated in 1998 to 4.7%. As the depressed conditions persisted into 1999, annual GDP growth rate slowed further to 4.3%, although still better than the developing country average growth of 3.3% in 1999. Sri Lanka’s exports declined by 4% in 1999, after 12 straight years of growth. The stock market remained depressed, and the privatization process slowed.
The economy is faced with a series of challenges due to increased defense spending, a higher oil bill, and a slowdown in privatization process. The government spent around Rs 28 billion-about $350 million-more on defense in 2000. The government also increased wages and pensions of government servants in the run up to October parliamentary elections. Consequently, the budget deficit is expected to rise from an estimated 7.6% of GDP to around 10% of GDP.
The private sector, especially the export sector, continues to grow. Exports have grown by 27% through August. Both garments and tea exports have done well. Remittances from Sri Lankan workers abroad also have increased significantly. Still the balance of payments is likely to record a significant deficit again due to much higher oil prices and defense-related imports.
Foreign exchange reserves, which fell by 11% in 1999, decreased further in the first half of 2000. The Colombo Stock Exchange remains depressed and foreign investors have moved funds out of Sri Lanka. The outlook for tourism also is bleak. Inflationary pressures are rising strongly. To encourage exports and to stabilize the drain of foreign exchange, the Central Bank announced a 5% depreciation of the rupee in June 2000. Increased government borrowing and Central Bank moves to maintain the stability of the rupee caused interest rates to rise fairly sharply in the second half of the year.
The future of Sri Lanka’s economic health is uncertain. There are no imminent prospects for settling the ethnic conflict, and defense expenditures remain a significant drain on the economy. Implementation of major reforms in the civil service and education sectors and more disciplined spending and improved revenue collection would help generate stronger economic growth. If privatization continues and export orientation strengthens, weaknesses in government will have less impact on growth. Real growth is expected to continue in the 4%-6% range beyond 2001, still below Sri Lanka’s potential.
The service sector is the largest component of GDP (53%). This reflects an extensive government apparatus and social services but also includes the repatriated earnings of overseas workers, a large trading sector, and a rapidly expanding communications sector, as well as increased development of sorely-needed thermal power-generating capacity. Tourism continues to be a significant contributor to this sector as well, although it has not reached full potential due to the conflict. There also is a small but growing information technology sector, especially IT training and software development and exports.
Manufacturing accounts for about 16.5% of GDP. The textile, apparel, and leather products sector is the largest, accounting for 44% of total industrial output. The second largest industrial sector, at 24% of total manufacturing output, is food, beverages, and tobacco. The third-largest industrial sector is chemical, petroleum, rubber, and plastic products-16% of output.
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Agriculture has lost its relative importance to the Sri Lankan economy in recent decades. It accounts for 16.9% of GDP and provides employment to 35% of the working population. Rice, the staple cereal, is cultivated extensively. The plantation sector consists of tea, rubber, and coconut; in recent years, the tea crop has made significant contributions to export earnings thanks to generally high prices in world markets and increased production. Tea prices, which dropped markedly during August 1998-June 1999 due to the Russian economic crisis and higher production in several tea-producing countries, have since recovered. The construction sector accounts for 7.6% of GDP, and mining and quarrying 1.8%.
In recent years, the government has eliminated many price controls and quotas, reduced tariff levels, eliminated most foreign exchange controls and sold over 55 state-owned companies and 20 estate-holding companies. Colombo boasts one of the most modern stock exchanges in the region, and the Sri Lankan Government offers a range of tax and other incentives to attract potential investors.
Total foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows during 1999 were about $173 million, compared with $193 million in 1998; $430 million in 1997 and $120 million in 1996. The sharp drop in 1999-98 from the very high levels in 1997 is entirely due to lower privatization receipts-$56 million in 1998 vs. $300 million in 1997. FDI inflows excluding privatization proceeds improved to $177 million in 1999 from $137 million in 1998, principally in telecommunications, power, industries, garments, and ports.
Private long-term borrowings were $353 million, and repayments were $165 million, resulting in a net inflow of $188 million. Borrowings increased markedly in 1999, due to loans taken by Sri Lanka Airlines to finance the purchase of new aircraft under a refleeting program. Investment flows are expected to continue to rise but with year-to-year fluctuations, depending on the timing and finalization of some major projects.
Trade and Foreign AssistanceExports to the United States, Sri Lanka’s most important market, were valued at $1.7 billion in 1999. For many years, the United States has been Sri Lanka’s biggest market for garments, taking more than 60% of the country’s total garment exports. Japan is Sri Lanka’s largest supplier, with exports of $565 million in 1999. India is the second-largest source of Sri Lanka’s imports-$514 million. Other leading suppliers include Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea. The United States is the eighth-largest supplier to Sri Lanka; U.S. exports amounted to $167 million in 1999, according to U.S. trade data. Wheat accounted for 30% of U.S. exports to Sri Lanka in 1999.
Sri Lanka is highly dependent on foreign assistance and has received about $500 million in annual grant aid and concessional assistance in recent years, with Japan the largest donor. Foreign assistance has been critical in the successful development of the large Mahaweli River Basin project in the 1980s, in privatization of state industries in the 1990s, in development of the stock exchange, and in infrastructure development. Current multilateral assistance focuses on infrastructure, education, health, legal reform, environment, privatization and restructuring government departments, poverty alleviation, and rural development. U.S. bilateral assistance focuses on private sector development and economic growth, human rights and democracy, and also includes agricultural aid.
LaborMore than 20% of the 6.1 million labor force, excluding the north and east, is unionized. Trade union membership is on the decline. There are over 1,650 registered trade unions, many of which have 50 or fewer members, and 19 federations. Many unions have political affiliations. The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) and Lanka Jathika estate workers union are the two largest unions representing workers in the heavily unionized plantation sector. The President of the CWC also is minister of livestock development and estate infrastructure. The CWC’s agenda includes political issues, such as citizenship status for stateless Indian Tamils. Some of the stronger and more influential trade unions include the Ceylon Mercantile Union, Sri Lanka Nidhahas Sevaka Sangamaya, Jathika Sevaka Sangayama, Ceylon Federation of Trade Unions, Ceylon Bank Employees Union, Union of Post and Telecommunication Officers, and Conference of Public Sector Independent Trade Unions.
The unemployment rate has declined in recent years and hovers at 10%. The rate of unemployment among high school and college graduates, however, remains proportionally higher than the rate for less educated workers. The government has embarked on educational reforms it hopes will lead to better preparation of students and fewer mismatches between graduates and jobs.
FOREIGN RELATIONS Sri Lanka follows a nonaligned foreign policy. It participates in multilateral diplomacy, particularly at the United Nations, where it seeks to promote sovereignty, independence, and development in the developing world. Sri Lanka was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and hosted its 1976 summit. It also is a member of the Commonwealth, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, and the Colombo Plan. Sri Lanka continues its active participation in the NAM, while also stressing the importance it places on regionalism by playing a strong role in SAARC.
U.S.-SRI LANKAN RELATIONSThe United States enjoys cordial relations with Sri Lanka that are based, in large part, on shared democratic traditions. U.S. policy toward Sri Lanka is characterized by respect for its independence, sovereignty, and moderate nonaligned foreign policy; support for the country’s unity, territorial integrity, and democratic institutions; and encouragement of its social and economic development.
U.S. assistance has totaled more than $1.63 billion since Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), it has contributed to Sri Lanka’s economic growth with projects designed to reduce unemployment, improve housing, develop the Colombo stock exchange, modernize the judicial system, and improve competitiveness.
In addition, the International Broadcast Bureau (IBB)-formerly Voice of America (VOA)-operates a radio-transmitting station in Sri Lanka. The U.S. Armed Forces maintain a limited military-to-military relationship with the Sri Lanka defense establishment.
Principal U.S. Embassy OfficialsAmbassador-E. Ashley WillsDeputy Chief of Mission-W. Lewis AmselemHead of Political Section-Joseph NovakHead of Economic/Commercial Section-Willaim AveryAdministrative Officer-Long LeeConsular Officer-William HoweDefense Attach�-Lt. Col. Frank RindoneDirector, AID Mission-Vicki MoorePublic Affairs Officer-Stephen HolgateIBB Station Manager-Walter Patterson
The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka is located at 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3 (tel: 94-1-448007, fax: 94-1-437345). U.S. Agency for International Development offices are located at the American Center, 44 Galle Road, Colombo 3 (tel: 94-1-472855; fax: 94-1-472850/472860). Public Affairs offices also are located at the American Center (tel: 94-1-421270/422121, fax: 94-1-449070).
IBB offices are located near Chilaw, 75 kms north of Colombo (94-032-55931/32/94-072-285860, fax: 94-032-55822)
U.S. Embassy Mission Statement/Objectives/Core ValuesMission. To lead the U.S. Government’s efforts at promoting and defending American interests in Sri Lanka and the Maldives; to implement our diplomatic agenda, we seek to expand the areas of mutual understanding with Sri Lanka and the Maldives.Strategic objectives. Protect American citizens; promote a peaceful and reconciled society through support for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law; and advance U.S. economic goals by promoting an open, competitive economy.Cover values. In pursuit of our mission, we pledge to respect individuals; manage with fairness and integrity and regard for taxpayers’ resources; encourage creativity and teamwork; and strive for excellence.