What Are The Major Natural Resources Of Sri Lanka?

Rice is the most widely grown crop in Sri Lanka.
Rice is the most widely grown crop in Sri Lanka.

The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is an Asian nation located in the continent's southeastern edge. According to data from the World Bank, in 2017, Sri Lanka's gross domestic product was roughly $87.2 billion. Based on the strength of Sri Lanka's economy, the World Bank categorizes it as a middle-income nation. The economy of Sri Lanka was dramatically affected by a civil war that lasted nearly 30 years. Sri Lanka's economy is heavily dependent on the natural resources some of which include fish, minerals, arable land, and wildlife.

Natural Resources of Sri Lanka

Arable Land

One of Sri Lanka's most valuable resources is arable land. According to information from Trading Economics, arable land made up close to 21% of the nation's total land area in 2014. The government of Sri Lanka set up the Department of Agriculture to properly utilize the arable land in the country. Arable land was also significant in the country's history and during the 19th and 20th century, Sri Lanka rapidly developed its agricultural industry. During this time, some of the most important crops grown within Sri Lanka included Ceylon tea, cinnamon, and rubber. In the modern era, agriculture is equally as important as it employs roughly 32% of the nation's total population. Data from the Ministry of Finance in 2010 indicated that agriculture contributed 12% of the country's gross domestic product. Some of the main crops grown in Sri Lanka include rice and tea.


Data from the Sri Lankan government indicates that rice is the most widely grown crop in the country. According to some estimates, rice plantations accounted for roughly 34% of the arable land use in Sri Lanka. The government believes that close to 2 million Sri Lankan families are directly involved in growing rice. Most of the rice grown in Sri Lanka is for local consumption as it is the nation's staple food.


In Sri Lanka, tea is mainly grown for export purposes, and it contributes vast sums of money to the nation's GDP. According to the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, in 2013 tea contributed close to $1.5 billion to the nation's gross domestic product which accounted for roughly 2%. For a time, Sri Lanka exported more tea than any other nation in the world but soon ceded its global dominance to Kenya. In the country, tea is grown by both large-scale farmers as well as small-scale farmers. The Sri Lankan government estimates that the tea industry provides close to 1 million jobs.


Another of Sri Lanka's significant natural resource includes gemstones. Sri Lanka has high-quality gemstones that have been famous all around the world for several centuries. Ptolemy was among the first people known to have praised the quality of Sri Lanka's gems. He praised the quality of the sapphires and beryl from the nation. Marco Polo is also known to have praised the gems from Sri Lanka. In the modern era, gemstone mining is an essential industry in Sri Lanka. Most of the gemstones obtained in Sri Lanka are from secondary deposits. It is believed that the formation and subsequent breakup of supercontinents on the earth may have had a direct impact on the formation of gemstone deposits in Sri Lanka. The mining and subsequent gemstone trade has been extremely beneficial to Sri Lanka's economy as it led to the emergence of towns such as Ratnapura, which attracts people from all over the world who have an interest in Sri Lankan gemstones. According to 2011 estimates, the population of the town had grown to 52,170 from less than 5000 in 1901.


Apart from gemstones, Sri Lanka has a wealth of other minerals such as graphite, calcite, and limestone. The graphite obtained from Sri Lankan mines is highly valued all over the world due to its high quality. The Kahatagaha mine and the Bogala mine are two of the most prominent graphite mines in Sri Lanka. Some companies have been set up to exploit Sri Lanka's graphite such as Graphite Lanka Limited, a Sri Lankan company, and Bora Bora Resources Limited, an Australian company.


Wildlife is one of Sri Lanka's most important natural resources as the nation is considered to be one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. Due to the massive number of plants and animals endemic to the country, it has the distinction of being the nation with the vast biological endemism rate globally. The Sri Lankan government has set aside close to 3,300 square miles of land to be Wildlife Protected Areas. Due to the large variety of wildlife in the country, a huge number of visitors travels to Sri Lanka every year. The tourism industry is a significant contributor to Sri Lanka's foreign exchange, and it also employs a large number of people.

Natural Scenery

One of Sri Lanka's most overlooked natural resources is the natural scenery which has been known to attract a large number of tourists from all around the world. Some of the natural features in Sri Lanka that attract tourists include the beaches, the mountains, and the waterfalls. According to the Sri Lankan government, the nation has close to 995 miles of beaches. There are several famous waterfalls in Sri Lanka such as the Bambarakanda Falls, which is approximately 863 feet tall and is the highest waterfall in the nation, as well as the Aberdeen Falls which is roughly 322 feet tall.

Economic Growth in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's economy was devastated by a civil war that lasted for approximately 30 years. After the war ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan government put in place several measures which have seen economic growth in the country. The measures that the government put in place bore fruit as from 2010 to 2017 the nation's economy grew at a rate of nearly 5.8%. Due to the country's increased economic prosperity, the poverty levels have decreased significantly. According to the World Bank in 2016, only 4.1% of the Sri Lankan population lived below the poverty line. The International Monetary Fund expects Sri Lanka's gross domestic product to increase by a significant margin in 2018.


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