A Guide to Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis — And What Comes Next

For the first time since its 1948 independence, Sri Lanka has defaulted on its debts as it plunges deeper into an economic and constitutional crisis.

Natasha Noman

April 27, 2022

A Guide to Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis — And What Comes Next
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - APRIL 23: Demonstrator hold a placard while he takes part in a protest against Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at protest camp site on April 23, 2022 in Colombo, Sri Lanka (Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)

As Sri Lanka plunges further into an economic crisis, protesters have spent weeks calling for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Protesters began gathering in Colombo, outside Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office, in early April, many brandishing signs with the message “#GoHomeGota.” 

Protesters also assembled across other parts of the country. Some of the gatherings turned deadly: on April 19, in Rambukkana, a town northeast of Colombo, Sri Lankan police killed a 41-year-old man and injured a dozen others as police fired into the crowd. 

We dive into why the island nation faces high inflation, is seeing food and fuel shortages, and has defaulted on its debts for the first time since its 1948 independence. We also explore the road ahead and what it would take for the country to get back on track.