In 2001 5,545 Sri Lankans applied for asylum in the UK, a large drop on the previous year.
Just over 1,900 Sri Lankans were allowed to stay in Britain in 2001.
For nearly two decades Sri Lanka has been scarred by a bitter civil war between the mainly
Hindu Tamils, an ethnic minority and the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese.
Many people have been caught up in the fighting between the Tamil Tiger fighters pressing for self-rule - and the Sri Lankan army. The main areas of conflict are in the north and north-east of the country.
Currently hundreds of thousands of people are displaced in Sri Lanka. Many have also fled to become refugees in India, Europe and Canada.
Amnesty International reports an increase in torture, disappearances and deaths in custody after the introduction of new emergency regulations.
According to the UNHCR there is only limited access to basic services such as health and education in the country. Unemployment is very high and a large proportion of the population is dependent on humanitarian assistance.