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.
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.
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.
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.