The Economic Development of Ceylon

The Economic Development of Ceylon

The Economic Development of Ceylon

The Economic Development of Ceylon

Excerpt

Ceylon today is passing through a very significant period of her history. Four years ago, after more than four centuries of rule successively by Portuguese, Dutch and British, she obtained political independence. Almost simultaneously there emerged a new economic problem.

This problem is not one of correcting maladjustments already become critical, but rather of forestalling a clearly seen threat of such maladjustments in the future. For some generations past Ceylon's productivity has maintained a lead in the race with population. Now the odds in the race are shifting. There is grave doubt whether increasing production in the old patterns can any longer keep up with a greatly accelerated population growth. Government and people therefore face the task of expanding and diversifying the country's sources of production fast enough to maintain the tempo of progress.

In the past 75 years the population of Ceylon has trebled. Yet typical living standards, while low in comparison with the West, have been maintained and almost certainly improved; at present they are among the highest in Southern Asia. This advancement of the levels of national well-being has been achieved by a virtual revolution in Ceylon's agriculture over the past century, accompanied by a limited industrialization. The revolution has lain in organized large scale production and processing of agricultural commodities for export--specifically tea, rubber, and coconut products. A hundred years ago only the last of these was of real significance in the island. Today the three utilize about two thirds of the developed agricultural land of Ceylon, and contribute over three quarters of the total value of agricultural production.

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