Sri Lanka

ලංකා –
Capital city Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte
Surface 65,610 km²
Population 22,156,000
Road network length 10,721 km
Length of highway network 285 km
First highway 2011
Motorway name நெடுஞ்சாலை
Traffic drives Left
License plate code CL

Sri Lanka (Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකා Śrī Laṃkā, Tamil: இலங்கை Ilaṅkai), formally the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, belonging to the continent of Asia. The country is approximately twice the size of the Netherlands and has 22 million inhabitants. The capital is Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, a suburb of the more famous and larger city of Colombo.


According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, Sri Lanka is located southeast of India, separated by a narrow strait. At the shortest, the two countries are 30 kilometers apart. About 700 kilometers west of Sri Lanka are the Maldives, Indonesiais 1,500 kilometers to the southeast. Sri Lanka measures 430 by 225 kilometers and is oval-shaped. Sri Lanka has a small mountain range in the central interior, with the Pidurutalagala at 2,524 meters as the highest point. However, most of the country is flat to hilly. The country has a tropical climate with the most precipitation on the west side of the island. The average maximum temperature is 30-31°C all year round. There is approximately 2500 mm of precipitation, with two significantly wetter periods in March-June and September-November. However, the island does not have a pronounced dry season either.


Sri Lanka grew from approximately 4 million inhabitants to 18 million inhabitants during the 20th century. The west of the country is the most densely populated. See Sri Lanka population density. All major cities of the country are located around the primary city of Colombo. At the time of the 2012 census, there was not a single city with more than 100,000 inhabitants outside the Colombo region. Colombo has approximately 750,000 inhabitants and an urban region of approximately 5.6 million inhabitants.

The largest population group in Sri Lanka are the Sinhalese, who make up about 75% of the population. The Tamils ​​form the second group with approximately 11%. Another 9% are made up of the Moors, a Muslim group who mainly speak Tamil. The two official languages ​​of the country are Sinhala and Tamil. English is the lingua franca and is widely used by government and media.


Sri Lanka is a developing country, which in the past was based on socialism. Historically, Sri Lanka’s plantations were famous, exporting cinnamon, rubber, and tea. Tea is still an important export product today, but textiles are currently Sri Lanka’s largest export sector. There are quite large economic differences in the country, the area around Colombo is more developed than elsewhere.

From 2019, Sri Lanka’s economy deteriorated sharply, tourists stayed away after attacks, international tourist traffic was largely shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic and then an economic collapse followed due to financial mismanagement. In 2022 Sri Lanka went bankrupt and there were serious shortages of fuel, medicines and food.


Sri Lanka has a long history since ancient times. It was an important location in the historic Silk Road. From the beginning of the 16th century, the island began to be governed by the Portuguese. They mainly controlled the coastal areas. In 1638 a treaty was concluded with the Dutch East India Company to expel the Portuguese from the island. The island was then under Dutch administration, during this period also the mixed population group Burghers, who had a mixed Sri Lankan and European background. During the advance of Napoleon, the British occupied Sri Lanka, initially mainly the coastal region, with independent kingdoms inland until the British took over this area in 1815. It was thereafter a British colony known as Ceylon.

Sri Lanka became independent from the United Kingdom in 1948. Throughout the 1960s, the government pursued a socialist model and Sri Lanka had close ties to the Soviet Union and China. In the north, disturbances broke out among the Tamils, who felt disadvantaged. In 1977 there was a change of power after which Sri Lanka became a market economy. Sri Lanka was the first South Asian country to liberalize its economy. The conflict with the Tamils ​​eventually led to the Sri Lankan Civil War that raged from 1983 to 2009. The country was hit by a tsunami in 2004 that killed 35,000 people. Since the end of the civil war, the economy has grown significantly.

Road Network

Road transport is the main form of transport in Sri Lanka and has 12,000 kilometers of roads divided into Class A and Class B. About 10,700 kilometers of this are paved, but many roads are in poor condition and most of the roads are too narrow to handle higher speeds. achieve. Motorized is widespread in the larger cities, especially Colombo, but non-motorized is still common in the countryside. A renovation is underway on the A-roads, whereby the roads will be renewed and widened, with road markings. Most roads in and around Colombo are in good condition. Because the government traditionally had little influence in the north and east due to internal conflicts, the road network here is also less developed.


Sri Lanka’s current and planned expressways.

In November 2011, Sri Lanka’s first highway, the 96-kilometer-long Southern Expressway from Colombo to Galle, was opened. In October 2013, the country’s second expressway, the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway, opened. An Outer Circular Highway has also been constructed, around Colombo to the Bandaranaike International Airport, which is located approximately 35 kilometers north of the city. A total of 434 kilometers of highway is planned. A 153 km long highway to Anuradhapura is planned, which may be extended to the far north of Sri Lanka in the future. A 98-kilometer highway between Colombo and Kandy inland is also planned.

Expressways in Sri Lanka
Southern Expressway (E01) • Outer Circular Expressway (E02) • Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (E03) • Central Expressway (E04) • Colombo – Kandy Expressway • Ruwanpura Expressway (E06)

The west coast of Sri Lanka is densely populated and urbanized, but there are no fast connections here yet. The new highways should change this. Main roads run between the major cities, but because of the continuous ribbon development it is seldom possible to get along here.

Asian Highways

Asian Highways in Sri Lanka
AH43 • AH44

Sri Lanka – India

The Adam’s Bridge is a natural land bridge between India and Sri Lanka. Previously, it would have been completely dry, but after a hurricane in the 15th century, the dam was partly submerged, making it impossible to use for traffic from India to Sri Lanka. The passage is not deep enough for shipping, so ships have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka, a detour of 30 hours. There are ferry services between India and Sri Lanka, but there are no concrete plans to build a permanent connection. The shortest connection is approximately 30 kilometers long and could be reclaimed relatively easily through reclamation. On the Indian side, the NH49 runs from here to Madurai.

Road numbering

The road network is divided into A and B roads. The A-roads are called Trunk Roads, and connect most major cities. The numbering runs from A0 to A35. Expressways have the prefix “E” and are numbered with a leading zero. A-roads sometimes have two leading zeros (eg A004).


Signpost on the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway.

A trilingual signpost.

Signposts in Sri Lanka come in three colors. Expressways have blue signposts. A-roads have green signposts and other roads have white signposts. The signage of new roads is relatively good and a better thought-out system than many other developing countries.

Signage is generally trilingual, namely in Tamil, Sinhala and English.

Sri Lanka Location Map