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Sri Lanka election: Key facts about the Indian Ocean island

Sri Lanka goes to the polls Monday to elect a 225-member parliament after a month-long campaign dominated by former president Mahinda Rajapakse`s attempt to make a political comeback.



Colombo: Sri Lanka goes to the polls Monday to elect a 225-member parliament after a month-long campaign dominated by former president Mahinda Rajapakse`s attempt to make a political comeback.

Here are some key facts about Sri Lanka: 

Geography: Located off the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, the teardrop-shaped tropical island is separated from its giant neighbour by a narrow strip of sea known as the Palk Straits.

Area: 65,000 square kilometres (25,000 square miles).

Population: 20.32 million (2012), majority ethnic Sinhalese (74.9 percent), Tamils (15.26 percent). 

Electorate: 15 million, men and women over the age of 18. 

Capital: Colombo. 

Religion: Buddhists (70.2 percent), Hindus (12.6 percent), Catholics (6.1), Muslims (9.7 percent). 

History: Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, became a British colony in 1815. Previously Portuguese (1505-1656) and then Dutch (1656-1796). Last Sinhalese king ruled from 1798 to 1815. Britain grants independence in 1948. The country splits along ethnic lines and Tamil rebels launch a campaign for a separate state in 1972. The Tamil uprising is crushed by a Sinhalese-majority government in May 2009 after a bloody conflict estimated to have claimed up to 100,000 lives. The country is plagued by allegations that up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed by government forces in the final stages of the ethnic war. 

Political Institution: The directly elected President can have any two terms of five years each. A 225-member legislature is elected separately for a maximum of five years in line with 2015 amendment to the 1978 constitution, which has elements drawn from the US, French and British systems of government. Local government through provincial councils established in 1987. 

Economy: Tea is Sri Lanka`s main export commodity while clothing and labour are also key foreign exchange earners. Sri Lanka imports all its oil requirements. 

GDP: $74.9 billion dollars (2014); GDP per capita $3,625 (2014 central bank).

Currency: Rupee. 

Military: Voluntary service (army, navy, air force and civil defence force estimated at 300,000). 

From Zee News

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