Bringing Prosperity to Life

Sri Lanka

Ranked 56th of 149

At a glance


56 th on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™



In the Prosperity Sub-Index rankings, Sri Lanka performs best on Social Capital and Health and scores lowest on the Personal Freedom sub-index.

Visit our Rankings table to see how Sri Lanka compares to other countries.

Prosperity Gap

The ‘Prosperity Gap’ takes a country's GDP and uses it as the yardstick to measure a nation's expected Prosperity Index ranking.

Over the last decade Sri Lanka has converted a small prosperity deficit to a small surplus, successfully crossing the bridge from being an under-deliverer to an over-deliver of prosperity. For a country whose GDP per capita is similar to that of Mongolia and Tunisia, both under-deliverers and far behind in the Prosperity Index rankings, this is indeed an excellent result. Yet despite being South Asia’s best performing country it is far from being the highest deliver of prosperity in the region, as Nepal’s prosperity gap is four times bigger than Sri Lanka’s.

In the chart above, each dot represents a country. The curve shows the general tendency with which prosperity increases as GDP per capita increases. If a country falls below the curve, then we can say that compared to all other countries, it is under-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Likewise, if a country rises above the curve, then we can say that it is over-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Learn more about the Prosperity Gap here.

Alternatively, have a look at the Prosperity Gap view on our Rankings table for a full list of countries and to see how each of them are performing on the various sub-indices.


Since the end of the civil war in 2009, which arose out of ethnic tensions between the Sinhalese and the Tamil and caused the death of approximately 70-80,000 people, there has been a significant improvement in most sub-indices. Peace has brought a rapid rebuild of the country’s social strength. Since 2007, Sri Lanka has risen by 44 ranks in the Social Capital sub-index to rank in the global top 20 at 19th. Sri Lanka is a diverse and multicultural country, home to many religions, ethnic groups, and languages. Whilst this has been an important source of tension in the past, Sri Lanka has made a 10% improvement in terms of its ethnic minorities tolerance since 2008 and features a strong civil society. Sri Lankans have a strong devotion to charitable activities; with three-fifths of the population claiming to have made donations in the last month and half have volunteered during the same period. This strong social cohesion is supported by a high degree of satisfaction with interpersonal relations. More than 80% of respondents are satisfied with opportunities to make friends, feel that they are treated with respect, and say that they can rely on friends and relatives in times of trouble, which is the highest score in South Asia. All these factors suggest a strong sense of community and frequent cooperation at individual level.

The end of the civil war in 2009 has also brought a sharp improvement in the Safety & Security sub-index. Sri Lanka has gone from being one of the 10 most dangerous countries in the world in 2009 to immediately gaining 28 ranks by 2010 in this sub-index and a further 32 ranks by 2016. Unsurprisingly, the most obvious changes can be observed in the number of war casualties, battlefield deaths, and trailing 5-year terrorist attack casualties, which have all declined by almost 100% since the end of the war.

The political terror scale and intentional homicide rates have dropped massively and the police do not ignore minor crime prevention either. Fewer than than 10% of Sri Lankans have had their property stolen in 2015/16 and almost 75% of citizens feel safe walking alone at night- both of these figures being the highest in the region. This is recognised by people’s trust in the local police, running as high as 74% in the same year. Yet, the refugee rate in the country is the second highest in South Asia, just behind Afghanistan. For example, by the end of 2012, the internal displacement monitoring centre counted about 370,000 internally displaced people, posing a serious obstacle to Sri Lanka’s aim of achieving a stable peace.

 Social Capital and Safety & Security in Sri Lanka between 2007 and 2016.
Since the end of the civil war in 2009 both Social Capital and Safety & Security have improved significantly in Sri Lanka.

It seems that a more orderly life in Sri Lanka has come at the expense of Personal Freedom, with the country never ranking higher than 110th in this sub-index. The death penalty continues to exist, there are no LGBT rights, and social religious restrictions are worsening. Although a leader in the region with regards to women’s health and education indicators, more can be done to advance women’s economic and political participation.

Yet more democratic elements have taken root since the new government, elected in 2015 through generally free and fair elections, brought in constitutional reforms and promises of human rights protection. Consequently, between 2014 and 2015 the Personal Freedom and Governance sub-indices shot up by 15 and 16 ranks respectively due to a 100% rise in democracy level, a 31.3% increase in voter turnout, and enhanced political rights. Press freedom has also been positively affected as the new president Sirisena lifted a ban on news websites, blocked under his predecessor Rajapaksa, and guaranteed freedom of expression in the constitution. Prosperity is being stimulated in Asia’s oldest democracy and with necessary reforms there are great hopes for long term effects.

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How to read this graph:
When comparing multiple countries on a spider chart, data points that appear
further away from the center represent a better performance to the points that are closer to the center.