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