Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Sudatta Ranasinghe and Jay Weerawardena 1 Introduction Sri Lanka is an island nation with a population of 19.8 million of which over 70 percent live in the rural areas. The recorded growth of population in Sri Lanka had been 1.1 percent at the end of 2006. Since gaining independence from British rule in 1948, the successive governments elected within the democratic political framework of the Westminster model have followed a set of welfare policies that incorporated free health care, free education and other measures of income redistribution. Thus, the country has been able to achieve an adult literacy rate of 94 percent and life expectancy and infant mortality rates comparable with advanced countries. Sri Lanka has also reached a per capita income level of US$1350 and a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 7 percent by 2006. Although the country faced the adverse consequences of a serious political conflict during the past three decades due to the armed struggle launched by the separatist Tamil guerrillas, the economy had demonstrated a high degree of resilience evident from the continued growth of the GDP, which had averaged around 5 percent during the past five years. The economic liberalization policy introduced as far back as 1978 has had far-reaching effects on the economy and the society. The outward-oriented economic policies vigorously pursued by successive governments have brought in a significant volume of exportoriented investments both foreign and local. There has also been a corresponding growth of the small and medium enterprise...
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