PURPOSE: To investigate the incidence of bladder cancer (BC) in Sri Lanka and to compare risk factors and outcomes with those of other South Asian nations and South Asian migrants to the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US). MATERIALS AND METHODS: The incidence of BC in Sri Lanka was examined by using two separate cancer registry databases over a 5-year period. Smoking rates were compiled by using a population-based survey from 2001 to 2009 and the relative risk was calculated by using published data. RESULTS: A total of 637 new cases of BC were diagnosed over the 5-year period. Sri Lankan BC incidence increased from 1985 but remained low (1.36 and 0.3 per 100,000 in males and females) and was similar to the incidence in other South Asian countries. The incidence was lower, however, than in migrant populations in the US and the UK. In densely populated districts of Sri Lanka, these rates almost doubled. Urothelial carcinoma accounted for 72%. The prevalence of male smokers in Sri Lanka was 39%, whereas Pakistan had higher smoking rates with a 6-fold increase in BC. CONCLUSIONS: Sri Lankan BC incidence was low, similar to other South Asian countries (apart from Pakistan), but the actual incidence is likely higher than the cancer registry rates. Smoking is likely to be the main risk factor for BC. Possible under-reporting in rural areas could account for the low rates of BC in Sri Lanka. Any genetic or environmental protective effects of BC in South Asians seem to be lost on migration to the UK or the US and with higher levels of smoking, as seen in Pakistan.