Things have changed so much in Sri Lanka. From being a country struggling with war and poverty, Sri Lanka is now reaping the the benefits of peace. The most visible of these are the highways snaking across the island and the numerous high-rise buildings springing up in the bigger cities, but look a little closer, and you’ll find other changes too.
In the past nine years, the standard of living in Sri Lanka has increased at an average rate of 5.8 percent a year, with per capita GDP at $4,065 (2017). This has expanded the middle class, and now people have more disposable income and higher purchasing power. The ability to purchase based on choice, and not for survival had dramatically changed the quality of life on the island.
Colombo especially has seen a massive change, giving people a wider array of choices like never before. From entertainment, to health, fitness, nutrition, general wellness, and wellbeing, Colombo is teeming with options and this wide range of choices allows people the chance to enjoy their lives in ways previously unthought of.
Fitness is a trend, not just in Colombo, but in other parts of the country too. There are an ever increasing number of gyms opening up, and walking paths and parks are full of people engaging in a variety of strenuous activity from zumba to crossfit. Other activities like yoga, cycling, trekking, and hiking are also increasingly embraced.
Together with fitness, Sri Lanka has also embraced a new healthy conscious lifestyle. Diets are now the rage and increasingly, restaurants are catering to a health conscious and nutritious lifestyle. Things like sustainability and the quality of ingredients are a part of public conversation as more and more people commit to a healthier lifestyle.
People are also making social impacts in other areas - there is push towards using biodegradable products that do not harm the environment and plenty of citizen-led initiatives aimed at waste management. Animal rights, taking care of the sick and elderly, and issues of justice and fairplay have also gripped the public consciousness.
Figures also indicate that there are continued improvements in health indicators. The Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics (2016) stated that almost all births had taken place in a health facility (94% in public, 5% private) with 99% of pregnancies receiving antenatal care.
The report also highlighted the fact that infant and child mortality had continued to decline over the last decade, and that while 72% of the currently married women had a demand for contraception, close to 90% of the demand was satisfied. It was even found that more people were attending school, with attendance at secondary education level as high as 83%.
Tourism too has increased surging to over 2 million (2,050,832) arrivals in 2016 - an increase of 14.0 % over the previous year, meaning with foreign exchange earnings increased by 18.05 % in 2016, which will positively affect the economy of the country.
Quality of life seems a priority even for people like popular cricketer and national icon Kumar Sangakkara, who tweeted earlier this month that he would be speaking at an event on August 30, on how to enhance the quality of life. Stay tuned for more details.
Cover Image: New apartments coming up on Galle Road, Colombo. Photo by Thiva Arunagirinathan/Roar Media.