Known until 1972 as Ceylon, with a history dating back to the birth of time, Sri Lanka is an island with tropical weather, and where nature's beauty remains abundant and undamaged. It is located in the northern Indian Ocean, off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia, and has maritime borders with India, to the northwest across the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait, and the Maldives, to the southwest.
Known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, as Taprobane, the tiny yet beautiful island was named 'the pearl of Indian ocean', and gave the English language the word 'serendipity'.
The island is around 65,000 square kilometers in area, and has a greatly varying range of landscape, temperature and rainfall. Sunny and hot beaches, cool misty mountains, natural rain-forests that are as old as mankind, dry, rugged terrains, amazing waterfalls, wildlife ranging from elephants to leopards to wild deer – all exist on this little piece of heaven!
Now, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, it has primarily always been a hub for trade and export, due to its geographically advantageous position.
In 1602 the Dutch arrived, just as keen as the Portuguese did, intent on dominating the lucrative traffic in Indian Ocean spices. The Dutch were more industrious than the Portuguese, and canals were built along the west coast to transport cinnamon and other crops. The legal system of the Dutch era still forms part of Sri Lanka’s legal canon.
British settlers began arriving in the 1830s. Coffee and rubber were largely replaced by tea from the 1870s.
Independent and ambitious, the island of Sri Lanka has had strong economic growth rates in the recent years.
Tourism has blossomed into a major industry, as has industries such as apparel, tea, rubber and coconut exports, while export contributions in agricultural products show a dramatic increase.
The Island has also earned fame in the export market for their best quality spices, gems & jewelry, handicrafts, aquarium, coir products, leather products and household products, which are highly sought-after in the global market!
TourismTourism is one of the main industries in Sri Lanka. Major tourist attractions are focused around the islands famous beaches located in the southern and the eastern parts of the country, and ancient heritage sites located in the interior of the country, and resorts located in the mountainous regions of the country.
The number of tourists visiting have been recently increasing, beginning in early 2008. March 2008 by 8.6% and Sri Lanka attracted 1,003,000 tourists in 2012 according to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka's 2013 road-map.
Precious stones such as rubies and sapphires are frequently found and mined in Ratnapura, and its surrounding areas. The areas are also major tourist attractions.
The tea industry, operating under the Ministry of Public Estate Management and Development, is one of the main industries in Sri Lanka, and recently become one of the countries exporting fair trade tea to the UK and other countries.
It became the world's leading exporter in 1995 with a 23% share of global tea export, higher than Kenya's 22% share. The central highlands of the country have a low temperature climate throughout the year, with an annual rainfall and humidity levels that are ideal for growing tea.
The apparel industry of Sri Lanka is a constantly evolving and growing industry, exporting mainly to the United States and Europe. There are more than 900 factories throughout the country serving global giants such as Nike, Victoria's Secret, Tommy Hilfiger etc.
The agricultural sector of the country produces rice, coconut, fruits, vegetables, and grains, largely for domestic consumption and occasionally for export.
Desiccated coconut (DC) and coconut oil has long been an export product of importance to Sri Lanka, and has fetched a tremendous demand all over the world due to its unique characteristics. It is identified as one of the finest products frequently used in the food processing and confectionery industries all over the world.
Manufactured from the fresh kernel of the coconut, Sri Lankan virgin coconut oil is highly sought-after in the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea. Virgin Coconut Oil is 100% natural derived from fresh coconuts via a cold press process, and has applications and benefits ranging from cooking, Ayurveda, hair care, and skin care, to stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism.
Activated carbon is the most value added product developed from coconut shells and it is used in purification processors such as cleaning of gold, purification of water etc.
Coco peat is a 100% natural and renewable growing medium, used in green houses and farms, and also for landscaping and seed germination purposes.
Sri Lanka is the largest supplier of brown fibre to the world, and annual exports of fibre is more than 100,000 mt.
Sri Lanka is also famous for its value added coir products, such as coir twine, brushes, brooms, rugs and geotextiles and also produces a range of rubberized coir based horticulture products such as coir pots, baskets, hanging baskets, and coir poles.
The European Union and USA are the main markets for coconut-based products, followed by Canada, Asia and the Pacific Rim countries such as Australia and New Zealand. The Asian demand comes from countries like Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore.
About 1.8 million farm-families are engaged in paddy cultivation island-wide. Sri Lanka currently produces 2.7 million tonnes of rough rice annually, a number that is rapidly increasing to meet the demands of a domestic and global market.
Fruits & Vegetables
Sri Lanka produces more than 800,000 metric tons of fruits and vegetables annually, and exports both fresh and processed varieties to many destinations in the world.
Around eighty different varieties of fruits and vegetables are grown in Sri Lanka’s varied agro-climatic areas. The cool and salubrious climatic conditions in the hill country are ideal for temperate crops such as carrot, leek, cabbage, cauliflower, and salad leaves etc. The well demarcated low country and dry wet areas are suitable for a variety of tropical fruits and vegetables ranging from green chilli, red onion, melon, sweet and sour banana types etc.
Certain indigenous yams colloquially named innala (Lecranthus) and kiri ala (Xanthasoma sagittifolium), and fruits and pods of perennial crops such as bread fruit, young jak and murunga are highly sought after on the foreign market. It is the same with special-flavored Sri Lankan Pineapple, Mangosteen, ripe jak, avocado, rambutan, star fruit etc.
Oilseed crops such as Groundnut, Sesame, Sunflower and Mustard are also cultivated in Sri Lanka, grown mainly in Moneragala, Hambantota, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Ratnapura and Puttalam districts.
Sri Lanka has also initiated Agro-Technology Parks, one of the finest initiatives for agriculture extension, education and agro-tourism implemented by the Department of Agriculture.
The first Park was established in Kandy district and, lies at an altitude of 473 m (1550 ft) above sea level in a total area of 2 square kilometers. The parks is comprised with the majority of the institutions of the Department of Agriculture. The second Park was established in Hambantota district!
90 per cent of the fresh product is targeted to the Middle East and the Maldives Island and almost about 75% of the processed products go to the European market. Currently Sri Lanka is looking to develop agriculture in the dry zones of Sri Lanka by obtaining climate resistant fruit species from around the globe.