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