Sri Lanka is an island nation located south-east of India, in southern Asia. The country is very diverse in terms of natural beauty, culture and ethnicities.

Population estimate (2019): 21,006,062

Capital City: Colombo

Currency used: Sri Lanka Rupee

Gross National Income per capita (2013) (PPP international $): 9,470

Time zone: GMT + 5.5

Population growth rate (2019): 0.80%

Total fertility rate per woman: 2.07

Languages: Sinhala and Tamil

Key ethnic groups: Sri Lanka has a very multiethnic population, however, the two most prominent groups are the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils who, respectively, make up 75% and 11.9% of the population.

Religion: The predominant religion is Buddhism as most Sinhalese are Buddhists, followed by Hinduism, which is mostly practiced by the Tamils. The third biggest religion is Christianity.

Literacy: 92.6%

Climate: Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with hot and humid weather throughout the year and distinct rainy and dry seasons. The south-west experiences heavy rains between May and September due to the south-western monsoon. The north and east experiences heavy rainfall between October and January due to the north-eastern monsoon. Temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the year, with averages ranging between 25-30ºc in the coastal areas, and 15-18ºc in the highlands.

Health statistics:

Life expectancy at birth (2016): 72/78 (male/female)

Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years: 191/73 (per 1000 population, 2016)

Total expenditure on health per capita (2014): $369

Number of doctors per 1000 population (2015): 0.881

Nursing and midwifery personnel density (per 1000 population, 2015): 2.794

Neonatal mortality rate (per 1000 live births, 2016): 5.3 [4.6-6.2]

Maternal mortality ratio (per 100.000 live births, 2015): 30 [26-38]

Births attended by skilled health personnel (2016): 99.5%

Top 10 causes of death:

Coronary heart disease: 28,554 people / 22.52% of total

Stroke: 16,198 / 12.7%

Diabetes mellitus: 11,089 / 8.75

Suicide: 7,319 / 5.77

Asthma: 7,160 / 5.65%

Influenza & pneumonia: 5,284 / 4.17%

Kidney disease: 4,961 / 3.91%

Liver disease: 4,837 / 3.82%

Lung disease: 4,813 / 3.80%

Alzheimers/dementia: 4,006 / 3.16%

Healthcare system

Sri Lanka has universal healthcare offering free medical care to all citizens. The public sector is the most dominant, providing 73% of hospitals in the country, 93% of the bed capacity, and manage over 90% of all patient admissions and outpatient visits. There are 555 public hospitals, and additional government Ayurvedic teaching hospitals. Health services in Sri Lanka can generally be divided into preventative and curative sectors.

Preventative care is focused on the control of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, rabies and sexually transmitted diseases, and sanitation, family health and education. Usually medical officers and other public health workers deliver these services.

Curative care is provided at hospitals (teaching hospitals, peripheral hospitals, base hospitals and smaller rural hospitals). Teaching, peripheral and base hospitals have specialist consultants but no specialist wards. Rural hospitals have lower capacities, fewer resources and often only one physician present. All hospitals have open outpatient departments; these function without an appointment system. Medication given at hospitals are free of charge, but outpatient prescriptions must be paid by the patients; these costs vary according to the price of the drugs. For many lower-income citizens, this can be a challenge. Other challenges the healthcare system faces are overcrowding and limited drug supplies.

The private sector is relatively small but growing according to rising incomes and higher demands for private healthcare services. Private facilities generally offer higher standards, with matching higher costs. These are mostly concentrated in urban areas and suburbs.