North Western Province

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INTRODUCTION

The North Western Province, also known as Wayamba in Sinhalese, is one of the nine provinces in Sri Lanka. The districts of Kurunegala and Puttalam together form Wayamba and Kurunegala is the capital of the province. The fishing towns of Chilaw and Puttalam are located in this province. It also consists of six villages of the same name ‘Galagedara’.

The province was a seat of four medieval Sri Lankan kingdoms between the mid 12th and mid 14th centuries and contains a treasure trove of archeological artifacts. It also houses many ancient Buddhist rock temples.

It has a tropical climate; the northern part of the province is one of the driest regions in Sri Lanka whereas the southern part is wetter. The area is known for its fishing, prawn farming and rubber tree plantation industries.

DEMOGRAPHICS

According to the 2017 statistics, the total estimated population is 2,508,000. 51.9 percent (1,301,000) of the populace is female and 48.1 percent (1,207,000) is male. The sex ratio of the province is 93, reflecting 93 males for every 100 females.

The Province is very rural. 95.5% of the population is rural and 4.1% is urban. Many farmers in the rural area are facing severe challenges of poverty and drought, causing huge emigration to urban areas each year.

The major ethnic groups include Sinhalese (85.7 percent), Sri Lankan Moors (11 percent), Tamil (3 percent), and others (0.3 percent). The religious composition of the province is 74 percent Buddhist, 11.3 percent Muslim, 11.9 percent Roman Catholic, 1.8 percent Hindu and the remaining groups constitute 1 percent.

ECONOMICS

North Western Province is the second most important economic region in the country. The provincial economy is largely dependent on services and contributes about one-tenth of the total national output. It also has a well developed agricultural sector and the potential to attract investment in the local industry. A large proportion of the country’s lucrative coconut plantations are located here.

In 2015, the province contributed Rs. 1,224 billion (10.9 percent) to the overall GDP of the country. The PGDP Nominal Growth Rate was estimated at 5.9 percent. Sector-wise contribution shows that the Services sector contributes most to the GDP at 53.1 percent, followed by Industry at 27.2 percent and Agriculture at 12.6 percent. The per capita income ratio of the province is 0.9. Of the total unemployed population (aged 15 years and above) of 48,820, 58.1 percent are males and 41.9 percent are females. According to the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2012-13, the poverty head count index for the province is 6 percent and its contribution to total poverty stands at 10.5 percent. Poverty gap index is 1.1 percent.

POLITICS

Amaara Piyaseeli Rathnayake is the acting Governor of the province and Dharmasiri Dasanayake is the Chief Minister.

The province has a North Western Provincial Council which acts as the intermediate level of government between the national and local levels. The introduction of the provincial council system involves the first devolution of political, fiscal, and administrative responsibilities to an elected body at the provincial level.

The political scene in the region is dominated by the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance, of which the Sri Lanka Freedom Party is also a part. The region is home to a significant number of military families who have strongly supported the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Overall, the province doesn’t face any major legacy issues that are plaguing other provinces such as the Eastern Province. It’s a politically stable region with less ethnic tension or political instability.

North Central Province

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INTRODUCTION

North Central Province is the largest province in the country, covering 16 percent of the country’s total land area. It consists of two districts, namely Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. The latter is the largest district in the country and has  an ancient capital city with several heritage sites. It has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The province was home to five kingdoms of Tambapanni, Upatissa, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, and Polonanaruwa. It has also been referred as the cradle of Sri Lankan culture and religion with a recorded history from 6 BC. It was established as a separate administrative unit in 1873 by the British administration.

With more than 3000 medium and large scale tanks, it is popularly known as Wew Bendi Rajj (an area identified as hydrologically stable). It is dominated by Tamils in the north and Sinhalese in the south.

DEMOGRAPHICS

The total estimated population of the province is 1,349,000. Of this, 51 percent (688,000) is female and 49 percent (661,000) is male.

According to Census of Population and Housing 2012, majority of the population is rural in nature (96 percent) and the remaining 4 percent is urban, which means that there are no estate areas in the province.

By ethnicity, the population is divided into Sinhalese (90.9 percent), Sri Lankan Moors (8 percent), Tamils (1 percent) and others (0.1 percent). Buddhist (90 percent), Muslims (8 percent), Hindus (0.8 percent) and other religious groups (1.2 percent) constitute the religion-wise distribution of the population. The percentage of literate population (aged 10 years and above) is 95.4 percent (1,029,994). The literacy rate among males is 96.6 percent and among females is 94.3 percent. Official languages are Sinhala and Tamil.

ECONOMICS

Majority of the rural population in the province depends on agriculture as the main source of livelihood. Rice is the most commonly grown crop. The region contributes the largest portion of grain production in the country and is therefore, recognized as the ‘bread basket’ of the country.

According to the 2015 estimates, the share of North Central Province in the overall GDP of the country was 5.4 percent. The Provincial GDP Nominal Growth Rate reached 12.1 percent. This is the highest growth rate recorded among all provinces. The sector-wise contribution to the GDP is Agriculture (13.8 percent), Industry (22 percent) and Services (57 percent). The per capita income ratio of the province is 0.9.

As per the 2012 estimates, the total employed population (aged 15 years and above) is 484,697. 72.6 percent of this is male and 27.4 percent is female. The 2012-13 estimates show that the poverty head count index for the province is 7.3 percent and its contribution to total poverty is 6.7 percent. The poverty gap index is 1 percent.
 

POLITICS

Presently, P.B. Dissanayake is the Governor of the province and Peshala Jayarathna is the Chief Minister. United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is the party in power in North Central Province. The tenure of the Provincial Council ended in October last year and the provincial elections are set to take place this year. Recently, a new political outfit - Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) – has been floated by the supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 

Central Province

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INTRODUCTION

Provinces have existed in Sri Lanka since the 19th Century. However, it was not until 1987 that they gained legal status. In 1988, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, establishing the Provincial Council system which officially designated provinces as the first level administrative division of the country. On July 14, 1988 the Central Province commenced its functions.

Central Province covers an important era in Sri Lankan history. There is evidence (in the form of folk stories) to believe that the history of Central Province dates to the period before the birth of Christ. It is one of the nine provinces of Sri Lankaand is located in the central hills of the country. The Central Province consists of three districtsKandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya; it has 36 Divisional Secretary areas in the three districts for the purpose of administration. These are further divided into 2,224 Gram Niladari areas, 5,763 villages and local government bodies comprising 3 municipality council and 6 urban council areas. The Central Province is bordered by the North Central Province on the north, Mahaweli river and Uva Province on the east, North Western Province on the west, and Sabaragamuwa Province on the south-west.

Interestingly, the province has its own flag which symbolizes all of its three districts along with an official flower – Rhododendron arboreum.

DEMOGRAPHICS

According to the Department of Census and Statistics, the estimated population of the Central Province for 2017 is 2,722,000. The population is 52.2 percent (1,420,000) female and 47.8 percent (1,302,000) male. As per the Census of Population and Housing data 2012, the urban population share of the Central Province is 10.5 percent and the rural population is 70.6 percent. According to the same data, Central Province reports the lowest sex ratio at 92 (92 males for every 100 females).

Ethnically, the Central Province population is broadly categorized into – Sinhalese (66.0%), Tamils (23.8%), Sri Lankan Moors (9.9%), and others including Burgher, Malay, Sri Lanka Chetty and Bharatha form 0.3%. The population is made up of various religious groups namely, Buddhists (65.0%), Hindus (21.0%), Muslims (10.3%), Roman Catholics (2.5%) and other (1.2%).

The percentage of literate population among males (aged 10 years and above) is 96.1 percent and females is 92.0 percent. Languages spoken in the province include Sinhalese and Tamil.

 ECONOMICS

The Central Province plays an important role in the Sri Lankan economy and is one of the highest contributors to the overall GDP of the country (estimated at 10.3% in 2015). It is known for its most popular commodity ‘Ceylon Tea’, which forms a significant part of the export sector.

According to the Economic Statistics of Sri Lanka 2017, 36.6 percent of the total population of the province is engaged in agriculture, 21.5 percent in industrial production and 41.8 percent in services sector.

The total number of people unemployed (aged 15 years and above) as per the Census 2012 is estimated to be 68,911[S1] . Of this, 55.3 percent are males and 44.7 percent are females. The rate of unemployment from the year 2015 is 4.7 percent.

The mean household income per month is 40,146 whereas the per capita income per month for the year 2012-13 is estimated at 10,104.

As of 2016, the poverty incidence in the province is 5.4 percent.

POLITICS

The President appoints the Governor who acts as the Chief Executive of the Central Province and is vested with financial power. A Board of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister and four other ministers are there to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions. The Chief Minister, vested with most of the executive powers, is the elected head of the local government at the provincial level.

Mrs. Niluka Ekanayake, the current Governor, was appointed in March 2016 and is also the first transgender Governor of the country. The current Chief Minister is Sarath Ekanayake.

Local elections are expected to be held in February this year.

SUGGESTED READINGS:

Subramanian, Samanth. (2014) This Divided Island. Penguin Books Limited

 [S1]Edited

Sabaragamuwa

Sabaragamuwa is located in South-West Sri Lanka. It is composed of two landlocked districts: Ratnapura and Kegalle. Its capital is Ratnapura. The Provincial Council recognizes Sinhalese, Tamil and English as its official languages.

Demographics:

In 2016, the population of Ratnapura was 1,140,000 (562,000 men and 578,000 women) and 869,000 (414,000 men and 455,000 women) in Kegalle.The overall population was 2,009,000 for the province.  

Kegalle and Ratnapura have a medium population density with respectively 499 and 366 inhabitants per square kilometre.

The Census of Population and Housing conducted in 2012 provides detailed information on Sabaragamuwa province and its districts:

6 percent of the province’s population live in urban areas, 85 percent in rural areas and 9 percent in estate sectors.

86.4 percent of Sabaragamuwa’s population have Sinhalese origins, while 9.2 percent are of Tamil descent and 4.3 percent of Moor descent. In terms of religion, 85.7 percent are Buddhists, 8.1 percent are Hindus, and 4.4 percent are Muslims.

The literacy rate is 94.8 percent and 19.9 percent of the people are computer literate.

Economy:

The province economy distinguishes itself with tea and rubber plantations, their important processing industry, as well as mining and quarrying industries.

The provincial GDP in 2015 amounted to Rs 781,112 million. It contributed to 7 percent of Sri Lanka’s GDP.

The agriculture sector made Rs 70,163 million, industries Rs 192,065 million and services Rs 463,300 million in 2015.

The agriculture sector employs 35.3 percent of the province’s working population. 29.1 percent works in the industry sector and 35.6 percent in the services sector.  

The mean household income per month is Rs 40,375 and the mean per capita income per month is Rs. 10,718

The unemployment rate in 2015 was 5.9 percent. It was 8.3 percent in the Kegalle district.  

The poverty rate in 2013 was 8.8 percent.  

Politics:

Marshal Perera is the Governor of Sabaragamuwa since January 2015. The Chief Secretary of the Provincial council is Herath P. Kularathna.

Mahiepala Herath is Chief Minister since 2004. He is affiliated to the United People’s Freedom Alliance, a centre-left wing political alliance. Before 2004, he held responsibilities at the national level; he was Deputy Minister of Housing and Construction and Rural Industries Development Minister.

Provincial Council elections are to be held later on this year.

Further Readings:

Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: major natural, cultural, and historic sites (2002) Sabaragamuwa Development Bank

Sri Lanka in the Modern Age: A History of Contested Identities (2006) Wickramasinghe Nira, University of Hawaii Press

Historical Dictionary of Sri Lanka (2015) Peebles Patrick, Rowman & Littlefield

Uva

Uva is located in South-East Sri Lanka. The province is composed of two landlocked districts: Badulla and Monaragala. Its capital is Badulla. Its official languages are Sinhalese, Tamil and English.

Demographics:

The Department for Census and Statistics estimated that in 2016, 854,000 (410,000 men and 444,000 women) people lived in Badulla, and 479,000 (238,000 men and 241,000 women) lived in Monaragala. The total population of the province was 1,333,000 people.

Monaragala has a low population density with 82 inhabitants per square kilometre, while Badulla is more densely populated, with 288 inhabitants per square kilometre.

The Census of Population and Housing conducted in 2012 provides detailed information on the Uva province and its districts:

Monaragala is a rural district, with no urban population, while Badulla’s urban population amounts to 8.6 percent.

The two districts have different ethnic compositions. 73 percent of Badulla’s population is of Sinhalese descent, 21 percent of Tamil descent, and 5.5 percent of Moor descent. In Moneragala, the Sinhalese majority forms 94 percent of the people living there, while 2.9 percent have Tamil origins and 2.1 percent with Moor origins.

The religious composition reflects these ethnic disparities. In Badulla, 72.6 percent of the people are Buddhists, 19.4 percent are Hindus, 5.8 percent are Muslims and 1.4 percent Roman Catholics. In Monaragala, 94.5 percent of the people are Buddhists, 2.8 percent are Hindus and 2.2 percent are Muslims.

The literacy rate is 92.2 percent and 17.6 percent of the population is computer literate.

Economy:

Uva is mainly an agricultural province, where farmers grow diversified crops.

Uva’s provincial GDP at current prices in 2013 was Rs 409,972 million contributing to 4.7 percent of Sri Lanka’s total GDP. The agriculture sector contributed to 27.5 percent of the provincial GDP, industries to 23.5 percent, and services to 49 percent.

The agricultural sector employs 55.9 percent of the working population, the industry sector 12.3 percent and services 31.8 percent.  

The mean household income per month is Rs 35,638 (compared to Sri Lanka’s average of Rs 45,878) and the mean per capita income per month is Rs 9,382 (compared to Rs 11,819 for Sri Lanka)

The unemployment rate in 2015 was 4.7 percent.   

The poverty rate in 2013 was 15.4 percent (12.3 percent for Badulla and 20.8 percent for Monaragala).

Politics:

M.P Jayasinghe has been the Governor since January 2015 and the Chief Secretary is Gamini Rajakaruna.

Chamara Sampath Dasanayake is Chief Minister since September 2015 with an affiliation to the United People’s Freedom Alliance. Dasanayake replaced Harin Fernando, from the United National Party. Fernando was sworn in after his party won the national elections, replacing Sashindra Rajapaksa, nephew of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Of the thirty-four members of the Provincial Council, eighteen are affiliated to the United People’s Freedom Alliance, fourteen are affiliated to the United National Party, and two are affiliated to the People’s Liberation Front.

Further readings:

Historical Dictionary of Sri Lanka (2015) Peebles Patrick, Rowman & Littlefield

Sri Lanka in the Modern Age: A History of Contested Identities (2006) Wickramasinghe Nira, University of Hawaii Press

Southern Province

The Southern Province is located on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. It is composed of three coastal districts: Galle, Matara and Hambantota. Its capital is Galle. The Provincial Council recognizes Sinhalese, Tamil and English as its official languages.

Demographics:

In 2016, 1,102,000 (528,000 men and 574,000 women) people lived in Galle, 845,000 (405,000 men and 440,000 women) lived in Matara and 637,000 (313,000 men and 324,000 women) lived in Hambantota. A total of 2,584,000 people lived in the Southern province.  

Galle and Matara have a similar population density with 658 and 641 inhabitants per square kilometre respectively, and 12 percent of their population live in urban areas. Hambantota is less densely populated with 240 inhabitants per square kilometre. 5.3 percent of its inhabitants live in cities.

The Census of Population and Housing conducted in 2012 provides detailed information on the Southern province and its districts:

95 percent of the people living in the province are of Sinhalese origin while 1.7 percent are of Tamil descent, and 2.9 percent are of Moor descent.  

94.7 percent of the people are Buddhist, 1.3 percent are Hindu, and 3.2 percent are Muslim.  

The literacy rate is 95.3 percent and 22.4 percent of the population is computer literate.

Economy:

The Southern Province is an important tea producer. Its farmers also grow minor export crops (spices) that are exported throughout the world. The fishing industry and tourism are other sources of income for the province.

In 2015, the provincial GDP amounted to 1,159,693 million Sri Lanka Rupees and contributed to 10.4 percent of Sri Lanka’s GDP.

The agricultural sector made Rs 153,354 million, industries- Rs 277,532 million and services- Rs 646,286 million in 2015.

The agricultural sector employs 33.5 percent of the working population, while 25.5 percent works in the industry sector and 41 percent in services sector.

The mean income per household per month is Rs 41,834 and the mean income per capita per month is Rs 10,973.

The unemployment rate in 2015 was 5.8 percent.

The poverty rate in 2013 was 7.7 percent.

Politics:

The Governor of the Southern Province is Hemakumara Nanayakkara. He was an MP for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party but left the party in 1994. He then joined the United National Party and became a member of the Southern Provincial Council in 1999. In 2006, he joined the United People’s Freedom Alliance which he left in 2010 to create his own political party, the Maubima Janatha Party. He was appointed Governor of the province in January 2015.

The Chief Minister since 2004 is Shan Wijayalal de Silva. He is affiliated to the United People’s Freedom Alliance and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. He won the last election in 2014 by a landslide.

Like the Western Province Chief Minister, Shan Wijayalal de Silva complained about the Urban Development Authority taking over power from the provincial councils. The Government had granted the Urban Development Authority the power to approve the construction of buildings of national importance.

Political life in the Southern Province mirrors the national context. Some members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party formed a left-wing coalition, the Joint Opposition, to express their discontent with their party and the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which formed a unity government with the right-wing United National Party (UNP) in 2015. Some members of the Southern Provincial Council are said to change their affiliation to sit as independent in the Council, which would change the political balance. As of today, in a total of fifty-five seats, the UPFA holds thirty-three seats, the UNP holds fourteen seats, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna holds five seats and the Democratic Party holds three seats.

 Further readings:

Provincial politics in Sri Lanka: an analysis of the southern provincial election, 1994 (1997) W. A. Wiswa Warnapala, University of Michigan

Sri Lanka in the Modern Age: A History of Contested Identities (2006) Nira Wickramasinghe, University of Hawaii Press

Historical Dictionary of Sri Lanka (2015) Patrick Peebles, Rowman & Littlefield

Western Province

The Western Province is located in South-West Sri Lanka. It comprises of 3 coastal districts: Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara. Its capital is Colombo. The Provincial council recognizes Sinhalese, Tamil and English as its official languages.

Demographics:

In 2016, 2,395,000 (1,175,000 men and 1,220,000 women) people lived in Colombo, 2,372,000 (1,149,000 men and 1,223, women) people lived in Gampaha and 1,261,000 (610,000 men and 651,000 women) people lived in Kalutara. In total, 6,028,000 inhabitants lived in the whole province.

Colombo has a high population density, with 3,438 inhabitants per square kilometre, while Gampaha has 1719 inhabitants per square kilometre and Kalutara 775 inhabitants per square kilometre.  

The Census of Population and Housing conducted in 2012 provides detailed information on the Western Province and its districts:

Colombo is largely urbanized, with 77.6 percent of its inhabitants living in urban areas. Comparatively, only 15.6 percent of Gampaha’s inhabitants and 8.9 percent of Kalutara’s inhabitants live in cities.  

A large majority of people living in the Western province are from Sinhalese origins (84 percent). 6.8 percent are of Tamil descent and 7.9 percent are of Moor descent. Colombo, however, differs from the province’s demographics with 76 percent people from Sinhalese origins, while 11.2 percent of people are of Tamil descent and 10.7 percent of Moor descent.  

In the Western Province, 73.4 percent of the people are Buddhists, 4.8 percent are Hindus, 8.6 percent are Muslims and 11.1 percent are Roman Catholics.  

The literacy rate is 98 percent and 32.9 percent of the population is computer literate.

 Economy:

The Western Province is the leading economic province of Sri Lanka. It is not an agricultural province, even though it distinguishes itself with the growing of coconut, as well as for its livestock and fishing industries. It produces almost half the industrial activity of the country. It is also home to large mining and quarrying industries. Tourism is another important source of income. Since the administrative and legislative capitals are located in the province, it comprises many government related services.

In 2015, the provincial GDP amounted to Rs 4,610,509 million and contributed to 41.2 percent of the country’s GDP.

The agricultural sector made Rs 79,986 million, industries Rs 1,596,914 million and services Rs 2,605,532 in 2015.

The agriculture sector employs 6.2 percent of the working population, the industry 33.2 percent and services 60.5 percent.

On average people in the Western Province earn more than in the rest of the country, with a mean income per household per month of Rs 64,152 and a mean income per capita per month of Rs 16,124.

The unemployment rate in 2015 was 4.1 percent.

The poverty rate in 2013 was 2 percent.

Politics:

The Western Province’s Governor is K. C. Logeswaran since January 2015 and Mr. M.A.B.Daya Senarath is Chief Secretary since September 2016.

Isura Devapriya was appointed Chief Minister in September 2015. He is affiliated to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which is leading the left-coalition of the United People’s Freedom Alliance. He replaced Prasanna Ranatunga, from the same political family, who was in power since 2009.

Like the Southern Province Chief Minister, Isura Devapriya complained about the Urban Development Authority taking over power from the provincial councils. The Government had granted the Urban Development Authority the power to approve the construction of buildings of national importance. He threatened to stop providing public services in retaliation.

Further readings:

Sri Lanka in the Modern Age: A History of Contested Identities (2006) Wickramasinghe Nira, University of Hawaii Press

Historical Dictionary of Sri Lanka (2015) Peebles Patrick, Rowman & Littlefield