Sri Lanka History and Politics
The roots of the population
The history of Sri Lanka was very eventful. Today’s conflicts between Sinhalese and Tamils have their deeper roots in this story. It is not exactly known where the original population of Sri Lanka came from. There are many stories about this time that are still gladly told today.
In any case, the original population of Sri Lanka are the Veddas. They mixed with the later Sinhalese and Tamils. Today only about 600 people belong to the Veddas.
The Sinhalese probably came as early as 500 BC. To Sri Lanka. They came from the northeast of India. From there, Vijaya emigrated with his entourage and came to Sri Lanka. There he became the first king of Sri Lanka. He is considered the ancestor of the Sinhalese.
377 BC Chr. Was Anuradhapura founded as a royal residence. A kingdom developed around the place, which was also called this: the Kingdom of Anuradhapura.
Around 250 BC Chr. Came Buddhism to Sri Lanka and it was one of the first Buddhist monasteries. Buddhism became the official state religion. Anuradhapura remained the capital until the 11th century.
The Tamils probably came around 200 BC. BC to Sri Lanka and expanded their rule especially in the north of the country. They are still mainly found here today.
In 1215, the Tamil Kingdom was founded in the north of the island. Its capital was Jaffna.
Several Tamil and Sinhala kingdoms developed over time. One of the Sinhalese empires was the Kingdom of Kandy in the center of the island. Its capital was Kandy.
Around 1518, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to come to Sri Lanka. They soon controlled the country. But in the 17th century the Dutch came. These had an alliance with the King of Kandy. But the Dutch only took part of the island under their control.
In 1796 the British took control of what was then Ceylon. The Kingdom of Kandy continued to exist independently alongside the British colony. But this independence only lasted until 1815, when the British conquered Kandy. At that time, too, violent clashes broke out between the Sinhalese and Tamil groups.
Persistent conflicts despite independence
Ceylon was given independence in 1948. The head of state initially remained the British king, who was represented by a governor general. The country was part of the Commonwealth.
Sinhala was declared the country’s official language in 1956. The conflicts between Tamils and Sinhalese became more frequent. The Tamil minority in the north and east of the island felt oppressed. They wanted their own, independent state.
The first head of government in the world ruled by the way in Ceylon. Her name was Sirimavo Bandaranaike. She was elected Prime Minister in July 1960. She was the country’s head of government three times, one last time from 1994 to 2000.
Because of the official language Sinhala, there were repeated conflicts with the Tamils, which only ended in 1966 when the Tamils in the north and east of the country were allowed to use their Tamil language as an official language. The conflicts did not end there.
From Ceylon to Sri Lanka
In 1972 a new constitution was passed and the name of the country was changed from Ceylon in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka became a republic.
Civil War in Sri Lanka
In 1983 a civil war began. Tamil rebels fought against the Sinhalese government. They demanded a state of their own. India supported the government in Sri Lanka, a country located in Asia according to computerannals. The troops left the island in 1990, but the peace was short-lived. Not only was the Indian prime minister killed by Tamil rebel groups, but also the prime minister, Ranasinghe Premadasa, was attacked in 1993. The conflicts could not be resolved until 2009.
In the meantime tourism in Sri Lanka is an important branch of the economy. More and more people are coming to the country where you can not only swim, but also discover nature. In addition, the tourists want to get to know the diverse culture, shaped by different religions.
So you do a lot to ensure that more tourists come to the country. A major problem, however, were the clashes between Tamils and Sinhalese, which flared up again and again and did not come to an end until 2009. At that time, many tourists were simply afraid to go to Sri Lanka because it was dangerous there.
The differences within the country are great, especially when comparing urban and rural areas. The conflicts in the country and the years of disputes also influenced the country’s economy. The consequences of the tsunami in 2004 were also clearly felt for a long time and prevented some of the tourists from visiting Sri Lanka.
After a series of attacks in spring 2019, which was also targeted against tourists, travel warnings were issued again. Most of the victims were Christians who were killed in Islamist attacks. Unfortunately, the religious conflicts seem to persist and break out again and again in different forms.