Wealth and poverty
Sustained government efforts have seen poverty rates drop since the end of the civil war; however, there are great disparities between and within provinces. There is a large gap between the richest 10%, who hold 40% of Sri Lanka’s wealth and the poorest 10%, who share only 1.6%. with about 9% living below the poverty line.
Education and work
Free education, up to and including university, means there are high literacy rates (female 90%, male 93%) and school attendance. There are, however, differences in accessibility and educational outcomes for students across the country.
About one-third of the population works in agriculture as small-scale farmers or plantation labourers. More than 40% of the population are involved in the service sector, predominantly in the government public services. About 1.7 million Sri Lankans currently work abroad, with 90% in the Middle East, who send home (remit) about $US7 billion a year.
Industries and products
The agriculture sector includes mostly state-owned large plantations of tea, rubber and coconut and smaller holdings where rice, sugarcane, cassava, sweet potatoes, soybeans, cashew nuts, cocoa, spices, chillies and onions are produced, sometimes at subsistence level. Livestock raised include buffaloes, goats, pigs, sheep and poultry.
Manufacturing is dominated by the garment industry. Other industries include agricultural processing, particularly rubber, tea, coconuts and tobacco, along with cement, petroleum refining, telecommunications and information technology services.
In 2013, Sri Lanka exported $US9.35 billion worth of goods including textiles and clothing, tea, spices, rubber manufactures, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, coconut products, fish and petroleum products to the USA (20%), UK (10%), Italy (6%), Belgium (4%), and Germany (4%).
Sri Lanka imported $US15.7 billion worth of goods including machinery, textiles, mineral products, petroleum, transportation equipment and foodstuffs from India (22%), Singapore (9%), UAE (7%) and China (7%).