ABOUT SRILANKA & MEDIA
OFFICIAL NAME: Democratic Socialist Republic of
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Sri Lanka is an island located in the Indian Ocean and separated from India by the Palk Strait. The country has two geographical regions. (1.) A rolling plain which comprises 80% of the land area as well as the entire northern half of the island and continues around the coast to the southern half. (2.) The south central region which is hilly and mountainous with two plate aux, the Hatton and Kandy, that rise abruptly from the Ura Basin. The country has sixteen rivers of which the Mahaweli Ganga and the Aruvi Aru are the longest. Major Cities (pop. est.); Colombo 615,000, Dehiwala 196,000, Moratuwa 170,000, Jaffna 129,000 (1990). Land Use; forested 33%, pastures 7%, agricultural-cultivated 29%, other 31% (1993).
CLIMATE: Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with little seasonal variation in conditions and humidity, which is frequently around 90%. The island experiences the SW Monsoon in May and the NE Monsoon in November. Average annual precipitation varies between 1,270 mm and 1,900 mm (50 and 75 inches) on the southeast plains to between 2,540 mm and 5,080 mm (100 and 200 inches) on the southwest plains. Average temperature ranges in Colombo are from 23 to 31 degrees Celsius (73 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit) and from 14 to 24 degrees Celsius (57 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) in the highlands.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Sinhalese who account for 74% of the population. Other ethnic minorities include the Tamils, who are of Indian origin and account for 18% of the population while the Moors account for 7% and the Burghers, Malays, Euro-Asians as well as others account for the remainder.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 262 persons per sq km (680 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 22.0% urban, 78.0% rural (1993). Sex Distribution; 51.0% male, 49.0% female (1991). Life Expectancy at Birth; 70.0 years male, 74.0 years female (1993). Age Breakdown; 35% under 15, 21% 15 to 24, 26% 25 to 44, 11% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 69, 3% 70 and over (1991). Birth Rate; 21.2 per 1,000 (1991). Death Rate; 5.8 per 1,000 (1991). Increase Rate; 15.4 per 1,000 (1991). Infant Mortality Rate; 24.0 per 1,000 live births (1993).
RELIGIONS: The national religion is Theravada Buddhism which accounts for 69% of the population, mostly the Sinhalese. Other religious minorities include Hindus which account for around 16%, Christians for 7.5% and Muslims for 7.6% of the population.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Sinhala and Tamil, while English is also widely spoken.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling 15.5%, incomplete primary 12.1%, primary 52.3%, lower secondary 14.7%, upper secondary 3.0%, higher 1.1% (1981). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 86.1% (1981).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: On Feb. 4, 1948 Sri Lanka became the independent nation of Ceylon within the Commonwealth with D.S. Senanayake as the country's first Prime Minister. The government immediately removed the Tamils' suffrage rights and revoked their citizenships. In 1956 Solomon Bandaranaike was elected Prime Minister and his government passed a law that made Sinhala the country's only official language which escalated the resentment between the Tamils and Sinhalese, and conflicts ensued. In Sept. 1959 Bandaranaike was assassinated by a Sinhalese Buddhist monk and Bandaranaike's widow, Sirimavo became Prime Minister. In 1965 the United National Party (NUP) won elections and formed a coalition government with Dudley Senanayake, son of D.S. Senanayake. In 1970 the newly elected United Front coalition government ordered the arrest of the Sinhalese Maoist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and in Apr. 1970 the JVP launched a revolt. In 1972 the country changed its name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. In Oct. 1977 the National Assembly approved the adoption of a presidential system of government and in 1978 J.R. Jayawardene became President. In Oct. 1982 Pres. Jayawardene was re-appointed as President. In May 1983 a State of Emergency was declared as Tamil guerrilla rebels fought for a separate state called Ealem in the north and east of the island, and by 1987 the Tamil Tigers or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealem had brought the Sri Lankan armed forces to a standstill. In July 1987 the Sri Lankan and Indian governments agreed to a plan for Indian troops to enter the northern regions of the island and disarm the Tamil Tigers, which resulted in the deaths of some 1,200 Indian soldiers. In Dec. 1988 Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadsa was elected President and in Sept. 1989 the Indian and Sri Lankan governments agreed to a withdrawal of the Indian troops from the northern and eastern provinces, which was complete by Mar. 1990. During late 1989 the JVP insurgence in the south escalated resulting in the deaths of hundreds of government officials and ultimately in the arrest or death of most of the JVP leaders. In Aug. 1990 after the withdrawal of Indian troops, the Tamil Tigers began killing Muslim minorities who in turn established the Jihad and retaliated by killing the Tamils. In 1991 the Indian government imposed direct rule on a southern Indian Tamil state that was believed to be supporting the Sri Lankan based Tigers who controlled large parts of northeastern Sri Lanka. On May 21, 1991 a Tamil Tiger assassinated the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in a suicide bomb attack. In Aug. 1991 Pres. Ranasinghe Premadasa narrowly survived calls for his impeach over alleged corruption. Also in 1991 the government banned all gambling houses claiming they assisted organize crime. During 1992 the Tamil Tigers continued their campaign of terrorist attacks and bombings that had resulted in the deaths of nearly 20,000 people. On Mar. 16, 1992 some 10,000 demonstrators began an 18 day protest march for peace and on Mar. 19, 1992 the government narrowly survived a vote of no confidence following allegations of government corruption. On June 10, 1992 ten people died following 50 cm (21 inches) of rainfall while a further 150,000 were temporarily displaced. On Aug. 8, 1992 nine high-level Sri Lankan military officials were killed in a land mine explosion. In Sept. 1992 the Supreme Court dismissed an application to invalidate Pres. Premadasa's 1988 election. In Oct. 1992 some 140 mostly Muslim people were killed in Tiger raids on three northern villages. On Nov. 16, 1992 a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber assassinated Sri Lanka's naval commander and three aides in Colombo. On May 1, 1993 Pres. Premadasa was assassinated by a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber as he watched the May Day parade in Colombo. On May 7, 1993 the Parliament elected Prime Minister Dingiri Banda Wijetunga as the new President, following which Pres. Wijetunga appointed Ranil Wickremasinghe Prime Minister. The Parliament appointed a 45-member committee to derive a solution to the conflict and recommended two separate councils for the north and east in a quasi-federal system, although the proposal was rejected by the Tigers. In Aug. 1993 the government began a campaign to recruit a further 10,000 soldiers to fight the Tamils Tigers and on Aug. 17, 1993 the Speaker of the Parliament named an 18-member committee to investigate constitutional reforms involving the powers of the President and Parliament. In Sept. 1993 the government launched a major offensive involving 9,000 troops and on Oct. 1, 1993 had captured the Tiger sea base at Kilali, destroying some 120 vessels. In Nov. 1993 the Tamil Tigers reinitiated attacks on government military bases.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Rupee (SLRs) divided into 100 Cents.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $10,573,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; USD $5,936,000,000 (1993). Imports; SLRs 181,484,000,000 (1993). Exports; SLRs 137,286,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $208,000,000 (1993). Balance of Trade; SLRs -53,894,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 5,948,221 or 40.9% of total population (1992). Unemployed; 13.3% (1992).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading
partners are the USA, the UK, Egypt and Japan.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 1,453 km (903 mi) (1990), passenger-km 2,484,700,000 (1,543,921,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 167,000,000 (114,378,000 short ton-mi) (1990). Roads; length 25,684 km (15,959 mi) (1988). Vehicles; cars 155,194 (1988), trucks and buses 139,206 (1988). Merchant Marine; vessels 78 (1990), deadweight tonnage 528,102 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 3,424,000,000 (2,128,000,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 91,198,000 (62,462,000 short ton-mi) (1990).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 10 with a total circulation of 480,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 3,300,000 (1994). Television; receivers 700,000 (1994). Telephones; units 157,800 (1993).
MILITARY: 126,000 (1994) total active duty personnel with 83.3% army, 8.2% navy and 8.5% air force while military expenditure accounts for 4.8% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
Sri Lanka Radio History.
Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was perhaps the first British colony to introduce radio broadcasting a few years after its inauguration in Europe. The arrangements made for broadcasting service in Great Britain in 1923 involved the granting of a licence to the British Broadcasting Company for the establishment of stations in different parts of the country. This sparked off unusual interest in broadcasting in a number of British colonies. In Sri Lanka a committee was appointed to report on the feasibility of radio broadcasting. A significant event took place in 1921. Mr.Edward Harper arrived in Ceylon on July 21, 1921 to take up duties as Chief Engineer, Telegraphs. Harper brought with him a deep interest in the medium of radio broadcasting. He was ably supported in the endeavour by a team of British and local enthusiasts. Harper was instrumental in banding the radio enthusiasts together by forming the Ceylon Wireless Club. The committee recommended that making use of the existing plant at the Colombo Wireless Station and equipping it with additional apparatus should commence radio broadcasting. Mr. Harper's vantage position as Chief Engineer was helpful in introducing radio broadcasting. The first experimental broadcast was done on 22 February 1924. The new home of the YMCA in Colombo was opened by His Lordship the Bishop of Colombo. The proceedings of the opening ceremony were broadcast, creating a new history in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Just four months after the YMCA experiment, Radio broadcasting was inaugurated by Sir William Henry Manning, the then British Governor on 27 June 1924 at 2.30pm.Sir Manning was due to address the members of the Engineering Association of Ceylon at the annual session. It so happened that Mr. Harper made it the occasion to inaugurate broadcasting. This event was very significant since it marked the inauguration of broadcasting in the first South Asian country. There is a difference of opinion on the date of the inauguration of radio broadcasting in the country. December 16,1925, was actually the day on which the improved transmitter was opened by the then Governor - the actual date of inauguration was 27 June 1924. On June 27, 1924 at 3.30pm a programme of recorded music was broadcast by placing a microphone in front of an ordinary gramophone. The studio amplifier and transmitter were all housed in one small room in the Central Telegraphic Office building. The public was informed that this temporary apparatus was limited range and power and that the broadcasts were experimental and liable to disturbances. After July 1, 1924 broadcasts were given somewhat irregularly, two or three times a week, depending on programme materials available, much of which were gramophone records. Mail news, universal time signals and weather reports were subsequently broadcast daily. The end of 1924 had issued a total of 53 licences.The available evidence suggests that by the end of 1925 the service had emerged from its early stage. The station was providing a regular broadcast service on 800 meters using the Colombo Telegraph transmitter with certain modifications. The Governor of Ceylon, Sir Hugh Clifford, inaugurated broadcasting on the new plant on 16 December 1925. The transmitter opened on this days was a 1Kw one compared to the previous one which was only 1/2 kW.
With the afternoon broadcasting, there commenced the transmission of an extended news service. In the evening a musical programme consisting of songs and solos on the piano , banjo and violin contributed by Mrs. Spencer Shepherd and Messrs F.J.Harlow, J.Mackenzie, John Murray, C. Wilding and H.O. White was broadcast. The acoustical properties of the new studio, which was used for the first time on 16 December 1925, proved a great improvement on the old arrangements. The transmission was remarkably free from disturbing street noises.
A series of Christmas Carols was broadcast on 17 December 1925 from 6.00pm onwards. All in all 160 radio licences has been issued by December 1925. A dual transmission was introduced in 1947-48 for the first time in the country. The short wave 61.2 meters was reserved for broadcasts in English and the Medium wave of 428.6 meters for Sinhala and Tamil.
Establishment of Radio Ceylon
After the Second World War, the impending vacation of the Cotta Road premises showed the need for a permanent and modern type of broadcasting station. A plan for constructing eight highly specialised studios at Torrington (Independence) Square was, therefore launched, but progress was not quite satisfactory, due to the scarcity of building material in the wake of the war. However completion of the eight new studios and conversion of the building were done by September 1949. Also Radio SEAC (South East Asia Command) was taken over in March 1949. The SEAC radio station had been set up during World War 2 by the British Services to bring within the reach of Servicemen overseas.
On 1 October 1949, the subject of radio broadcasting happened to be organised under a government department and came to be known as RADIO CEYLON. A BBC officer John Lampson was brought in to head Radio Ceylon.
January 5, 1967, Radio Ceylon became a public corporation. The late Dudley Senanayake, then Prime Minster ceremonially opened the newly established Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation and appointed Mr. Neville Jayaweera as the Chairman of the corporation. Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation changed to Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) after Ceylon became the Republic of Sri Lanka
Technical Development of the SLBC
There have been several plans to phase out the medium wave broadcasting and introduce FM broadcasting. In 1978, then Engineer Planning Mr.Rukmin Wijemanne conducted a FM stereo test transmission for the first time in the Sri Lanka Radio history. I too got involved in this project and it was very successful and later one of the existing studios was converted to a Stereo studio and a permanent FM Stereo broadcast was introduced in September 1981, to cater mainly to English listeners. This service became very popular among the metropolitan listeners. Currently, all three language (English Sinhala and Tamil) broadcasts are available on FM stereo island wide.
The SLBC now has stereo production and continuity studios with the latest equipment in its premises at Independence Square in Colombo.
Sri Lanka Broadcasting
Other Private Radio Channels In SriLanka.
Channel (pvt) Limited and
Radio Network broadcasts from the tallest building in Sri Lanka,
World Trade Centre in Colombo 01, one of the most state of the art buildings in
Sri Lanka. Our offices are located on the 35th Floor of the East Tower.
Sri Lanka Rupavahini(TV) Corporation is the second TV station in Sri Lanka and opened in February 1982. It is a gift from the Japanese Government. It covers the whole country on VHF and the signal used to reach as far as the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu, that was before its repeating station in the north was destroyed by the terrorists. Currently it has three main studios and an Outside Broadcast Unit. Rupavahini is the Sinhalese word for TV. It caters for all nationals of Sri Lanka, broadcasting programmes in all three langauges, Sinhala, Tamil and English
ITN commenced its transmission from a small shack at Pannipitiya on April 14, 1979, with a 1 kilowatt transmitter and a half completed 65ft antenna mast. The equipment of the maiden venture was barely minimal consisting of video play back gear (U-Matic Low Band ) , telecine and other accessories, all valued at Rs. 3.3 million ( £ 30,000 ). ITN became a Government Owned Business Undertaking on June 5, 1979. At present ITN channel 12 beamed from a modern TV transmitting station in Wickramasinghe Pura in Colombo. There are two programme production studios and an outside broadcast unit at the same place. Steps have already been taken to expand the ITN coverage island wide. ITN is managed by a Competent Authority assisted by a General manager and two directors, one for Engineering and one for Administration and three heads of sections for finance, commercial operations and programme presentation.
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