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中国株レポート
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Geography

The Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) comprises one large island and several islets, lying east of the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. It covers a land area of 64,454 square kilometres.

Demography

The population of Sri Lanka totalled 17.4 million at mid-1992 with an annual growth rate over the period 1981-1990 of 1.4%. About 70% of the people live in the island's south western area, the so called "wet zone", which accounts for about three quarters of the cultivated land and most of the country's industry.

The education system is highly advanced by developing country standards. Primary schooling is effectively universal. Secondary school enrolment was 74% of the relevant age group in 1989 and 4% of the eligible population were receiving higher education. 88% of the population over ten years was officially literate, the highest in South Asia.

The ethnic question has played a major role in Sri Lanka since independence and has been the dominating issue of recent years. The majority Sinhalese account for approximately 74% of the population; they speak Sinhala and are mainly Buddhist. After Sinhalese the next largest ethnic group are the Sri Lankan Tamils, who emigrated from southern India many centuries ago. Predominantly Hindu, they are Tamil speaking and concentrated in the north and east of the island. Before independence, the Sri Lankan Tamils played an important role in political life and accounted for a disproportionately large share of government employees and the educated population. Indian Tamils form 5-6% of the population. Brought over by the British to work the tea plantations they were either denied the vote or denied citizenship after independence. Muslims constitute around 7% of population and are concentrated in the Eastern province

The labour force was 6 million people in 1985 (latest census), of whom 5.1 million were gainfully employed. Approximately 45% of the latter work in agriculture, forestry and fishing and 11% in mining and services. At the end of 1991 employment in the public sector was 1.3 million, of whom around 660,000 were in semi-government institutions.

History and Political Situation

Western influence began in the sixteenth century with the Portuguese intrusion into the affairs of the littoral. By 1600 the Portuguese were well established despite prolonged resistance from the Sinhalese although with 60 years they were displaced by the Dutch, with the active support of the Sinhalese, and the Dutch, in turn, by the British in 1795-96. Throughout this period much of the interior of the island remained independent under the Kandyan kings. The Kandyan kingdom maintained its independence until 1815-18, when it was absorbed into the British colony of Ceylon.

Sri Lanka obtained independence from Britain in February 1948. In 1972, a new constitution established the country as a republic, though it is a member of the Commonwealth, with a president as constitutional head of state, but executive power being vested in the prime minister and cabinet. At the same time the country's name was changed to Sri Lanka and a unicameral legislature replaced the earlier bicameral system.

Substantial changes to the governmental system were made by a further constitution adopted in 1978, following the July 1977 victory of the United National Party (UNP) under its leader, J. R. Jayewardene. This introduced a French style presidential system of government and Jayewardene became the first president with Ranasinghe Premadasa as prime minister.

Between 1950 and 1977, Sri Lanka Tamils were gradually isolated politically as the government alternated between the UNP and the left wing Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) . In 1983, a Sinhalese crowd attending a funeral for soldiers killed by Tamil terrorist turned into a mob attacking Tamil homes and civil insurgency resulted, with the terrorist organisation Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) effectively controlling the north-eastern part of Sri Lanka.

The Indian government under Rajiv Gandhi, attempted to broker a peace treaty between government and rebel forces. According to this agreement, Tamil was to become an official language and provincial government was to be established. Furthermore, an Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was invited to guarantee the peace. In December 1988, following the eleven year term of Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa, previously prime minister, was elected President. In September 1989 he convened an all-party conference, except JVP, to discuss the country's ethnic crisis. Following this conference India began to withdraw troops completing the process by March 1990 and leaving the government to negotiate directly with the Tamil rebels. Negotiations were not successful and hostilities broke out again in June 1990. Following President Premadasa's assassination in May 1993 D.B. Wijetunga became President and the former industries minister Rani Wickremansinghe Prime Minister.

Economy

Sri Lanka's economic performance was mediocre in the decade after independence. The economy was largely agricultural and growth was modest, unemployment high and the balance of payments weak. Little progress was made towards reducing dependence on the traditional exports of tea, rubber, spices and coconut.

The situation worsened during the 1970-77 period when the SLFP led United Front government was in power. Private enterprise was restricted and large parts of the economy nationalised. Bureaucratisation increased, as did patronage and corruption, while economic performance declined further.

The Jayewardene government, reversing its predecessor's policies, introduced a liberal, open economic policy to create the right conditions for sustained economic growth and higher employment and to shift resources away from consumption into investment. A further aim was to diversify the base of the economy. Early measures included the abolition of import restrictions, the easing of price controls, a cut back in food subsidies, the opening up to the private sector of areas previously reserved for the public sector, and active encouragement of foreign investment. This was coupled with a massive increase in public investment. A public investment construction boom fuelled GDP growth at an annual average rate of 6% in 1978-83, compared with 2.9% in 1971-77, although excessive bureaucracy and state involvement still hampered the economy.

Since 1989, a new rigorous liberalisation programme has been introduced. Over twenty state owned enterprises had been privatised by the end of April 1992 and more are being prepared. Foreign exchange regulations are being lifted; import controls have been substantially reduced. The stock exchange was opened to foreign investment in 1990. Serious efforts are being made to curb bureaucracy and reduce public sector employment. As a result of these measures confidence in the economy and the economic outlook, both at home and abroad, has increased and substantial improvements in efficiency are being made which should ultimately feed into enhanced productive potential.

The ethnic conflict has had only a limited direct effect on the Sri Lankan economy since the main fighting was in the north and east, away from economic heartland of the south and the west. Apart from the tourism sector, which was badly hit, the main impact has been in the discouragement of foreign investment flows. The indirect effect of the war in the north east has been substantial, as the government has been forced to increase taxes (notably turnover taxes) to raise resources, and the substantial budget deficit is being funded through the debt markets, leading to high real interest rates and thus discouraging domestic investment.

Accelerated development in Sri Lanka is dependent on conclusion of the war. This would permit a sharp reduction in public expenditure and interest rates and could release an export-oriented investment boom, based on Sri Lanka's low-cost literate labour force, reasonable infrastructure and government policies oriented toward free markets and competition as the promotors of growth.

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