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The Just Student Jobs Country guide for gap year travel in India and the Middle East - Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka

Population: 19,238,575
note: Sri Lanka lost tens of thousands of lives and received massive property damage in the 2004 tsunami. Since the outbreak of hostilities between the government and armed Tamil separatists in the mid-1980s, several hundred thousand Tamil civilians have fled the island; as of mid-1999, approximately 66,000 were housed in 133 refugee camps in south India, another 40,000 lived outside the Indian camps, and more than 200,000 Tamils have sought refuge in the West (July 2000 est.)

Literacy rate: 90.2%

Life expectancy at birth: male – 69.33 yrs, female – 74.45 yrs

Infant mortality rate: 16.51 deaths/1,000 live births

Population growth rate: 0.89%

GDP growth rate: 3.7%

GDP per capita: £1,740

Unemployment: 9.5%

Inflation: 6%

TI index: ?

Climate: tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)

Time: GMT + 5.30.

Electricity: 230/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Round 3-pin plugs are usual, with bayonet lamp fittings

Websites: Information on Sri Lanka, together with a search engine and good links is at

While this may be Arthur C. Clarke’s paradise, for the rest of the population there is an ongoing civil war, still no nearer to resolution even now. The Tamil Tigers separatist movement has been fighting the government for some 25 years with varying degrees of success. The Jafna peninsula is cut off from the mainland by Tamil-held areas and there is a continual campaign to oust the Tamils from these areas. Since the start of hostilities some 400,000 or more Tamils have fled the island, some to refugee camps in southern India, some outside the camps and some to seek political asylum in the West. The rest of the island is quite peaceful, particularly the south. There is a demand for English, fuelled in part by the government’s desire to bridge the gap between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. Wages are low, unless you can get a job with the British Council, so taking some savings would be a good idea. Approximately two thirds of the population are Sinhalese and adhere to Buddhism while about one sixth are Tamils and adhere to Hinduism. The rest are Muslim. One fifth of the population is urban dwelling and this proportion is expected to increase in coming years, to the detriment of the agricultural sector and city life in general. This may sound a little doom-laden, but the island is still a most beautiful place with idyllic beaches, majestic mountains and wonderful scenery. The skin diving is said to be amongst the best in the world.

The mainstay of the economy is the rag trade – clothing and textiles. Future prospects are difficult to predict due to internal conflicts and the government’s propensity to overspend.

Entry requirements

Automatic entry tourist visa for between 30 and 90 days is available on arrival for most EU nationals.


Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Malaria and Yellow Fever.

Tax and Insurance

No tax in the first year. Health insurance advisable.

Gap Year Programmes

Click here to find gap year programmes and placements in Sri Lanka

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