Districts of Sri Lanka

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The Department of Census and Statistics has released final figures for the 2012 census (source [12]). I have used them to replace the provisional figures previously displayed.

Update 1 to the U.S. standard "Geopolitical Entities and Codes" is dated 2010-08-20. It recognizes Eastern and Northern as separate provinces.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number II-1, dated 2010-02-03, has changes to the listing for Sri Lanka, but nothing that affects data reported on this site. The prefix LK- is explicitly added to each province code. Province and district names are given in a new romanization system.

Sri Lanka's standard time was UTC+5:30 from the adoption of standard time in 1906 until 1996. In 1996, it was moved ahead one hour, and then back a half hour. The LTTE ("Tamil Tigers") ignored the changes, and in areas under their control, UTC+5:30 continued to be observed. Finally, Sri Lanka set its clocks back half an hour at 0:30 on 2006-04-15, from UTC+6 to UTC+5:30. That change put the entire country back in synch.

The Department of Census and Statistics has assigned hierarchical subdivision codes . The first digit of the census code is the same as the ISO code for the province containing the district. These codes match the ISO code for the district, except for four districts in Northern province; even in those districts, the first digit of the ISO code matches the ISO code for the province. The census codes apply to the 2001 census only; different codes may be used in other years.

Country overview: 

Short nameSRI LANKA
ISO codeLK
LanguageSinhala (si), Tamil (ta), English (en)
Time zone+5:30


Ceylon was a British colony at the beginning of the 20th century. It became an independent member of the Commonwealth on 1948-02-04. On 1972-05-22, it became a republic and changed its English name to Sri Lanka.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Sri Lanka, Ceylon (obsolete)
  2. Dutch: Srilanka, Sri Lanka, Democratische Socialistische Republiek Sri Lanka (formal)
  3. English: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (formal), Ceylon (obsolete)
  4. Finnish: Sri Lanka
  5. French: Sri Lanka m
  6. German: Sri Lanka n
  7. Icelandic: Srí Lanka
  8. Italian: Sri Lanka m
  9. Norwegian: Den demokratiske sosialistiske republikk Sri Lanka (formal) (Bokmål), Den demokratiske sosialistiske republikken Sri Lanka (formal) (Nynorsk), Sri Lanka
  10. Portuguese: Seri Lanca, Sri Lanka, República f Democrática Socialista do Sri Lanka m (formal), Ceilão m (obsolete)
  11. Sinhala: Sri Lanka Prajathanthrika Samajavadi Janarajaya (formal)
  12. Russian: Демократическая Социалистическая Республика Шри-Ланка (formal), Цейлон (obsolete)
  13. Spanish: Sri Lanka, República f Socialista Democrática de Sri Lanka m (formal), Ceilán (obsolete)
  14. Swedish: Sri Lanka
  15. Turkish: Sri Lanka Demokratik Sosyalist Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Sri is an honorific title; Lanka is the name of a mythical island country mentioned in the Ramayana

Primary subdivisions: 

Sri Lanka is divided into 25 distrikkaya (districts).

KilinochchiLK.KL42   45113,5101,1714524
Nuwara EliyaLK.NW23CE17NW2223711,6441,2284742
25 districts20,359,43964,39524,862
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision code.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4 (superseded).
  • Pab: Abbreviations used by the Sri Lanka Post Office.
  • Pc: Sri Lanka uses five-digit postal codes. The first two digits usually indicate the
    district, as shown here, although there are some deviations.
  • CC: Census code.
  • Population: 2012-03-20 census (source [12]).
  • Prov: ISO code of province containing this district.
  • Capitals: All district capitals have the same names as their districts.


Note: Because of civil strife, the 2001 census enumeration was incomplete or absent in seven districts. The populations for those districts were left blank in this table.

Further subdivisions:

See the Divisions of Sri Lanka page.

Subordinate to the districts, there are the pradeshiya mandalaya (divisional council) and gramodaya mandalaya (village council). Since the late 19th century, both palata (provinces) and districts have coexisted, with each province being a group of districts. The provinces had no administrative function until 1988. The Northern and Eastern provinces have been provisionally merged into a North Eastern province, intended to placate Tamil demands for greater self-rule. The merger will become permanent after a referendum which has been repeatedly postponed. Some lists now show eight provinces, and some nine.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on December 15, 1998. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For Sri Lanka, the draft standard showed both provinces and districts. Each province or district had a two-digit code. Three codes were duplicated: a province had the same code as a district. In the final standard, the two-digit province codes were replaced with one-digit codes. Obviously, this did away with any duplications. The draft standard showed North Eastern province. The final standard replaced it with separate Northern and Eastern provinces. The standard is now set up so that you can tell which province each district is in by their codes. The first digit of a district code is the same as the code for the province in which it belongs.

Update 1 to the U.S. standard "Geopolitical Entities and Codes" showed the splitting of North Eastern province (former FIPS code CE31) into Eastern and Northern.

The provinces and their codes are shown in this table.

ProvinceISOFIPSArea(km.²)CapitalSinhalese name
North Central7CE3010,724AnuradhapuraUturumeda
North Western6CE327,812PuttalamWayamba
  • ISO: Province codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a
    global context, prefix "LK-" to the code (ex: LK-8 represents Uva).
  • FIPS: Recent FIPS lists show eight provinces; CE31 represents
    North Eastern.

Territorial extent: 

All districts are situated mostly on the island of Sri Lanka.

  1. Jaffna is located on the Jaffna peninsula, which is nearly separated from the rest of Sri Lanka. It also contains some islands in Palk Strait, such as Delft, Velanai, Karaitivu, and Punkudutivu.
  2. Mannar includes Mannar Island, part of the chain of islands and peninsulas called Adam's Bridge.

The UN LOCODE page  for Sri Lanka lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

Colombo: possibly Sinhala kolamba: port, ferry; assimilated to Columbus's name by Portuguese colonists

Change history: 

  1. ~1958: Chilaw district merged with Puttalam district, both in North-Western province; Amparai district split from Batticaloa; Moneragala district split from Badulla; Polonnaruwa district split from Anuradhapura.
  2. 1974-06-28: Kachchativu island transferred from India to Sri Lanka.
  3. 1978-08-31: New constitution adopted. Gampaha district split from Colombo. Mullaitivu district formed from parts of Jaffna, Mannar, and Vavuniya.
  4. 1982: Some governmental functions moved from Colombo to Sri Jayawardenapura (formerly Kotte).
  5. 1983-10-04: Kilinochchi district split from Jaffna by the seventh amendment to the constitution.
  6. 1987-11-14: Thirteenth amendment to the constitution passed, authorizing the establishment of provincial councils to govern the nine provinces.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. districts:
  2. Ampara: Amparai (variant)
  3. Batticaloa: Matakalapuva (Sinhala)
  4. Jaffna: Yapanaya (Sinhala)
  5. Kandy: Maha Nuwara (variant)
  6. Kegalle: Kegalla (variant)
  7. Mannar: Mannarama (Sinhala)
  8. Moneragala: Monaragala (variant)
  9. Mullaitivu: Mulativ (Sinhala); Mulativu, Mullaittivu (variant)
  10. Nuwara Eliya: Nuvara Eliya (variant)
  11. Trincomalee: Trikunamalaya (Sinhala)
  12. Vavuniya: Vavuniyava (Sinhala)
  13. provinces:
  14. Central: Madhyama (Sinhala)
  15. Eastern: Nægenahira (Sinhala)
  16. North Central: Uturumæda (Sinhala)
  17. North Western: Vayamba, Wayamba (Sinhala)
  18. Northern: Uturu (Sinhala)
  19. Sabaragamuwa: Sabaragamuva (Sinhala)
  20. Southern: Dakunu (Sinhala)
  21. Western: Basnahira (Sinhala)

Population history:

North Central79,10086,30096,52597,365139,534229,282394,000552,423850,5751,110,0001,259,421
North Western353,600434,100492,181546,988667,889855,2281,156,0001,404,0631,706,0992,148,0002,372,185


All figures are from censuses except 1996. Totals for 1901, 1911, 1953, 1963, and 2012, and provincial populations for 2012 are from source [6]. Provincial populations for 1901 and 1911 are from source [1]; 1963, from source [10]. All 1931 data are from source [8]; 1953, source [9]; 1971, source [7]; 1983, source [11].

Nuwara Eliya450,278522,219700,083711,644


1971: source [7]; 2001: source [4]; 2012: source [6]. Some districts were not enumerated in 2001 because of civil strife. The country total for that census is an estimate made by the Department of Census and Statistics.


  1. [1] Statistical Abstract of Ceylon. Department of Census and Statistics. Colombo, 1965.
  2. [2] Dutt, Ashok K., and M. Margaret Geib. Fully Annotated Atlas of South Asia. Westview Press, Boulder and London, 1987.
  3. [3] Schmidt, Karl J., and M. E. Sharpe. An Atlas and Survey of South Asian History. Armonk, New York, 1995.
  4. [4] Sri Lanka Department of Census and Statistics (DCS), Population by Sex and Age according to District and Sector (Provisional), at http://www.statistics.gov.lk/census2001/population/district/t001a.htm (dead link, retrieved 2004-02-21).
  5. [5] Demographic Yearbook , 7th Ed. Statistical Office of the United Nations, New York, 1955 (retrieved 2011-08-20).
  6. [6] Population of Sri Lanka by District . Census of Population and Housing 2011: Enumeration Stage February - March 2012, preliminary report (provisional). Department of Census and Statistics, 2012-04-20 (retrieved 2012-07-07).
  7. [7] 1979 Demographic Yearbook , 31st Ed. Statistical Office, United Nations, New York, 1980 (retrieved 2011-12-28).
  8. [8] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1951 edition.
  9. [9] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1964 edition.
  10. [10] Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Edition, Chicago, 1984.
  11. [11] Almanaque Abril '85, Editora Abril, São Paulo, 1985.
  12. [12] Census of Population and Housing - 2012 . Department of Census and Statistics (retrieved 2015-02-01).
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