Rapid population increase, coupled with a lag in construction during and immediately following World War II, led to an acute housing shortage, high rents, high building costs, and many unsanitary and unfit houses in Sri Lanka's first decades after independence.
Preliminary results from the 2001 census indicated a total of 4,687,157 housing units nationwide. As of 2000, the average household had 4.5 members. About 64% of all households were nuclear families. About 96% of urban dwellings and 73% of rural dwellings had access to safe drinking waters. Only 73% of all households had access to safe sanitation systems.