Districts of Sri Lanka

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Coat of arms of Sri Lanka, showing a lion holding a sword in its right forepaw surrounded by a ring made from blue lotus petals which is placed on top of a grain vase sprouting rice grains to encircle it. A Dharmacakra is on the top while a sun and moon are at the bottom on each side of the vase.
This article is part of a series on the
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Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, districts (Sinhalese: දිස්ත්‍රි‌ක්‌ක, Tamil: மாவட்டம்) are the second-level administrative divisions, and are included in a province. There are 25 districts organized into 9 provinces.[1] Each district is administered under a District Secretary,[2] who is appointed by the central government.[3] The main tasks of the District Secretariat involve coordinating communications and activities of the central government and Divisional Secretariats. The District Secretariat is also responsible for implementing and monitoring development projects at the district level and assisting lower-level subdivisions in their activities,[4] as well as revenue collection and coordination of elections in the district.[5] A district is divided into a number of Divisional Secretary's Divisions (commonly known as DS divisions), which are in turn subdivided into Grama Niladhari Divisions.[6] There are 256 DS divisions in the country.[1]


The country was first divided into several administrative units during the Anuradhapura Kingdom. The kingdom was divided into three provinces; Rajarata, Ruhuna and Malaya Rata. These were further subdivided into smaller units called rata.[7] Over time, the number of provinces increased, but the second-level administrative division continued to be the rata. However, with the country eventually being divided into more than one kingdom and with foreign colonial missions landing and taking parts of the country under their control, this structure began to change. The territory of the Kotte Kingdom was organized into four disavas, which were further subdivided into forty korales. The korales had their own civil and military officials with a small militia. The Jaffna kingdom appears to have had a similar administrative structure to this with four provinces.[8]

When the Portuguese took over parts of the country after their arrival in 1505,[9] they maintained more or less the same administrative structure followed by Sri Lankan rulers.[10] During the Dutch rule in the country, the terrain under their control was divided into three administrative divisions. These were subdivided into disavas as in earlier systems.[11] The British initially continued this system,[12] but following reforms in 1796 to 1802, the country was divided according to ethnic composition.[13][14] This was abolished by the Colebrook–Cameron reforms in 1833 and a legislative council was created,[15] making the island a politically and administratively single unit. Five provinces were created, later expanded into nine, and these were subdivided into twenty-one districts. These districts were administered by officials known as Government Agents or Assistant Government Agents.[13]

In 1955, the district replaced the province as the country's main administrative unit.[16] Ampara District was created in April 1961,[17][18] followed by the creation of Mullaitivu and Gampaha districts in September 1978[19] through a new constitution, which also reintroduced the province as the main administrative unit.[20] The last district to be created was Kilinochchi in February 1984,[21] and the current constitution (that of 1978) states that the territory of Sri Lanka consists of 25 administrative districts. These districts may be subdivided or amalgamated by a resolution of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.[22]


Map of Sri Lanka showing districts.

All population data are from the most recent census of Sri Lanka, in 2012.

District Area map Province District
in km2 (mi2)
in km2 (mi2)
in km2 (mi2)
per km2
(per mi2)[a]
Ampara Area map of Ampara District, located along the east by south and south east coast and projecting into the interior of the country at the northern border, in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka Eastern Ampara 70094222000000000004,222 (1,630) 7008193000000000000193 (75) 70094415000000000004,415 (1,705) 648,057 7002153000000000000153 (400)
Anuradhapura Area map of Anuradhapura District, located somewhat to the north of the centre of the country, in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka North Central Anuradhapura 70096664000000000006,664 (2,573) 7008515000000000000515 (199) 70097179000000000007,179 (2,772) 856,232 7002128000000000000128 (330)
Badulla Area map of Badulla District which has its northern border near the centre of the country and extends to the south, located in the Uva Province of Sri Lanka Uva Badulla 70092827000000000002,827 (1,092) 700734000000000000034 (13) 70092861000000000002,861 (1,105) 811,758 7002287000000000000287 (740)
Batticaloa Area map of Batticaloa District, located along the east by north coast, in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka Eastern Batticaloa 70092610000000000002,610 (1,010) 7008244000000000000244 (94) 70092854000000000002,854 (1,102) 525,142 7002201000000000000201 (520)
Colombo Area map of Colombo District, roughly rectangular in shape and extending inwards from the west south west coast in the Western Province of Sri Lanka Western Colombo 7008676000000000000676 (261) 700723000000000000023 (8.9) 7008699000000000000699 (270) 2,309,809 70033417000000000003,417 (8,850)
Galle Area map of Galle District, converging inwards from the south west coast, in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka Southern Galle 70091617000000000001,617 (624) 700735000000000000035 (14) 70091652000000000001,652 (638) 1,058,771 7002655000000000000655 (1,700)
Gampaha Area map of Gampaha District, extending inwards from the west by south west coast in a rough square shape, in the Western Province of Sri Lanka Western Gampaha 70091341000000000001,341 (518) 700746000000000000046 (18) 70091387000000000001,387 (536) 2,294,641 70031711000000000001,711 (4,430)
Hambantota Area map of Hambantota District, lying along the coast from south to south east, in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka Southern Hambantota 70092496000000000002,496 (964) 7008113000000000000113 (44) 70092609000000000002,609 (1,007) 596,617 7002239000000000000239 (620)
Jaffna Area map of Jaffna District, in the peninsula to the north, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka Northern Jaffna 7008929000000000000929 (359) 700796000000000000096 (37) 70091025000000000001,025 (396) 583,378 7002628000000000000628 (1,630)
Kalutara Area map of Kalutara District, extending inwards from the south west by west coast, in the Western Province of Sri Lanka Western Kalutara 70091576000000000001,576 (608) 700722000000000000022 (8.5) 70091598000000000001,598 (617) 1,217,260 7002772000000000000772 (2,000)
Kandy Area map of Kandy District, at the centre of the country with its south western boundary extending to the south, in the Central Province of Sri Lanka Central Kandy 70091917000000000001,917 (740) 700723000000000000023 (8.9) 70091940000000000001,940 (750) 1,369,899 7002715000000000000715 (1,850)
Kegalle Area map of Kegalle District, roughly oval in shape is located to the south east of the centre of the country, in the Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka Sabaragamuwa Kegalle 70091685000000000001,685 (651) 70068000000000000008 (3.1) 70091693000000000001,693 (654) 836,603 7002497000000000000497 (1,290)
Kilinochchi Area map of Kilinochchi District, along the northern coast of the mainland and south of the Jaffna peninsula, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka Northern Kilinochchi 70091205000000000001,205 (465) 700774000000000000074 (29) 70091279000000000001,279 (494) 112,875 700194000000000000094 (240)
Kurunegala Area map of Kurunegala District, to the west of the centre of the country with its northern border extending towards the north west, in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka North Western Kurunegala 70094624000000000004,624 (1,785) 7008192000000000000192 (74) 70094816000000000004,816 (1,859) 1,610,299 7002348000000000000348 (900)
Mannar Area map of Mannar District, along the north western coast with eastern border extending towards the interior, also including a large island roughly oval in shape, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka Northern Mannar 70091880000000000001,880 (730) 7008116000000000000116 (45) 70091996000000000001,996 (771) 99,051 700153000000000000053 (140)
Matale Area map of Matale District, located immediately north of the middle of the country, roughly the shape of a letter "C" and located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka Central Matale 70091952000000000001,952 (754) 700741000000000000041 (16) 70091993000000000001,993 (770) 482,229 7002247000000000000247 (640)
Matara Area map of Matara District, roughly rectangular in shape and extending inwards from the southern coast, in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka Southern Matara 70091270000000000001,270 (490) 700713000000000000013 (5.0) 70091283000000000001,283 (495) 809,344 7002637000000000000637 (1,650)
Moneragala Area map of Moneragala District, located east of the centre of the country, has its south eat border extending towards the west, in the Uva Province of Sri Lanka Uva Moneragala 70095508000000000005,508 (2,127) 7008131000000000000131 (51) 70095639000000000005,639 (2,177) 448,142 700181000000000000081 (210)
Mullaitivu Area map of Mullaitivu District, extending to the west from the north by east coast in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka Northern Mullaitivu 70092415000000000002,415 (932) 7008202000000000000202 (78) 70092617000000000002,617 (1,010) 91,947 700138000000000000038 (98)
Nuwara Eliya Area map of Nuwara Eliya District, located immediately south of the middle of the country and running roughly south west to north east, in the Central Province of Sri Lanka Central Nuwara Eliya 70091706000000000001,706 (659) 700735000000000000035 (14) 70091741000000000001,741 (672) 706,588 7002414000000000000414 (1,070)
Polonnaruwa Area map of Polonnaruwa District, roughly square in shape, located at the middle from north east of the centre of the country and south west of the north eastern coast, in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka North Central Polonnaruwa 70093077000000000003,077 (1,188) 7008216000000000000216 (83) 70093293000000000003,293 (1,271) 403,335 7002131000000000000131 (340)
Puttalam Area map of Puttalam District, lying along the western coast, in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka North Western Puttalam 70092882000000000002,882 (1,113) 7008190000000000000190 (73) 70093072000000000003,072 (1,186) 759,776 7002264000000000000264 (680)
Ratnapura Area map of Ratnapura District, some distance from the south western coast with its western and southern borders converging towards the north west, in the Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka Sabaragamuwa Ratnapura 70093236000000000003,236 (1,249) 700739000000000000039 (15) 70093275000000000003,275 (1,264) 1,082,277 7002334000000000000334 (870)
Trincomalee Area map of Trincomalee District, along the north eastern coast with its south western border extending inwards, in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka Eastern Trincomalee 70092529000000000002,529 (976) 7008198000000000000198 (76) 70092727000000000002,727 (1,053) 378,182 7002150000000000000150 (390)
Vavuniya Area map of Vavuniya District, located in the middle of the northern half of the country, running roughly in a south west—north east direction, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka Northern Vavuniya 70091861000000000001,861 (719) 7008106000000000000106 (41) 70091967000000000001,967 (759) 171,511 700192000000000000092 (240)
Total 701062705000000000062,705 (24,211) 70092905000000000002,905 (1,122) 701065610000000000065,610 (25,330) 20,263,723 7002323000000000000323 (840)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Population density has been calculated using the land area rather than the total area.


  1. ^ a b "At a Glance". Sri Lanka in Brief. Government of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  2. ^ "Vision & Mission". District Secretariats Portal. Ministry of Public Administration & Home Affairs, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original on 13 May 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  3. ^ "Kilinochchi a brief look". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 27 April 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  4. ^ "About Us". Vavuniya District Secretariat. Archived from the original on 12 November 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2009. 
  5. ^ "Performs Report and Accounts—2008" (PDF). District and Divisional Secretariats Portal—Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  6. ^ "Identification of DS Divisions of Sri Lanka Vulnerable for food insecurity" (PDF). World Food Programme. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  7. ^ Siriweera 2004, p. 91.
  8. ^ Yogasundaram 2006, p. 170.
  9. ^ Hewavissenti, Panchamee (3 February 2008). "Episodes of colonised history". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka). Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  10. ^ Yogasundaram 2006, p. 168.
  11. ^ Yogasundaram 2006, p. 195.
  12. ^ Yogasundaram 2006, p. 214.
  13. ^ a b Yogasundaram 2006, p. 258.
  14. ^ Peebles 2006, p. 48.
  15. ^ Peebles 2006, p. 52.
  16. ^ Peebles 2006, p. 110.
  17. ^ "Overview". Ampara District Secretariat. 
  18. ^ Mohideen, M. I. M. (27 December 2007). "Sinhalisation of East: A reply to Minister Champika Ranawaka". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  19. ^ "Population by sex and district, census years" (PDF). Statistical Abstract 2011. Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka. 
  20. ^ Schmiegelow, Michèle (1997). Democracy in Asia. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 425. ISBN 0-312-16495-5. 
  21. ^ Karalliyadda, S. B. (9 June 2013). "Awakening Jaffna Uthuru Wasanthaya". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 
  22. ^ "Chapter 1: The People, The State and Sovereignty". The Constitution of Sri Lanka. Government of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 


External links[edit]