Why India is not occupying Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka - General and History


Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is located in the Indian Ocean southeast of India. The island state is 65610 km² in size. The population is 19.9 million. The capital is Colombo.

There is a tropical climate.

The average annual rainfall is 1500 mm in the east and 2500 mm in the southwest.

The average annual temperature is 21.1 ° C in the mountains and 32.2 ° C in lower regions.

The highest mountain is the Pidurutalagala with 2524 m in the south of the island.

The longest river is the Mahaweli Ganga with 330 km.


Legend has it that the Yaksas, a demonic people, populated Sri Lanka. About 500 years before Christ, the Yaksas were expelled by the Sinhalese from northern India. Anuradhapura became the seat of King Vijaya.

The Vijayas dynasty ruled the island for several centuries. From the year 250 BC Christ spread the teachings of the Buddha more and more.

The Indian prince Mahinda in Mihintale was the driving force. Buddhism became the national religion. At the same time, the Tamils ​​from southern India conquered the city of Anuradhapura.

The Sinhalese created a highly developed culture. Architectural masterpieces can still be admired today, e.g. on the basis of ruins and sanctuaries.

Approx. 161 BC Christ, the Sinhala king Dutthagamani won a great victory over the Tamils.

In 993 the Tamils ​​returned to power. Anuradhapura was captured and burned down. Polonnaruwa became the seat of power.
From 1153 one of the most powerful dynasties was created by King Parakramabahu I; Canals were built.

In the 13th century, the kingdom gradually fell apart. The north of Sri Lanka has been ruled by Sinhalese Tamils ​​for about 250 years.

In 1505 the Portuguese reached Sri Lanka and named the island Ceylon. Temples were destroyed and the monks were driven out. A trading post in Colombo was established in 1517.

At the end of the 16th century, the Portuguese ruled the island.

In 1636 the Dutch launched the first attacks against the Portuguese. In 1658 the island was occupied by the Dutch. They allied with the rulers of Kandy.

In 1795 the English came to the island. The Dutch gave up. In 1796 the British took over Ceylon. Besides the crown colony of Ceylon, there was only the Kingdom of Kandy.


In 1815 the British conquered Kandy. Religious and social uprisings between Sinhalese and Tamils ​​were the order of the day.

The first constitutional reform was announced 100 years later.

Ceylon gained independence on February 4, 1948. The English queen became head of state; however, it was represented on the island by the Governor General Sir Henry Moore. Prime Minister became D.S. Senana yake. After his death, his son Dudley became the new Prime Minister.

From 1956 Sinhalese was declared the official language.

On December 14, 1955, Sri Lanka joined the United Nations.

In April 1956, Solomon Bandaranaike became Prime Minister. On September 25, 1956, he was assassinated.

On July 20th, 1960 Sirimawo Bandaranaike became Prime Minister of Ceylon. At the same time, she was the first woman in the world to hold the position of head of government.

In 1965, however, she was voted out again. A second legislative period followed from 1970-77 and a third from 1994-2000.

On December 31, 1960, Sinhala was enforced as the official language due to a law. This led to a mass demonstration by the Tamils. The state of emergency has been declared. Tensions eased when, in January 1966, Tamil was adopted as the official language in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

The country's economic situation deteriorated. In 1965 there was another change of government. Dudley Senanayake became Prime Minister. He tried to use his politics for the good of the country. He was in favor of modernizing agriculture and promoting private companies. But high unemployment and food rationing were the order of the day.

In 1970 Sirimawo Bandaranaike came back to the head of the country. Armed unrest often broke out during her tenure. The reasons were social tension.

A new constitution was passed on May 22, 1972. Official name change of Ceylon in Sri Lanka.

With the 1978 elections, Junius R. Jayawardene became Prime Minister. The constitution was reformed. With the introduction of the presidential system, Jayawardene became president. In 1982 he was re-elected.

Since 1983 there have been bloody clashes between the Sinhala government and the Tamil rebels.

In June 1987 India supported the Jayawardene government. Indian troops were sent to the north of Sri Lanka. The rebels should be disarmed. In 1988 Jayawardene resigned. Ranasinghe Premadasa became his successor.

In 1990 the Indian troops left Sri Lanka. The LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) takes power on Jaffna.

The peace did not last long. The ceasefire negotiations between the government and the Tamil separatists were unsuccessful. Armed conflicts followed in 1991 and 1992.

In 1993, President Premadasa was bombed.

In August 1994, Chandrika Kumaratunga became president of the SL Freedom Party. Her mother Sirimawo Bandaranaike appointed her Prime Minister.

In 1995 the ceasefire agreement was signed between the government and the parties to the civil war. This agreement was short-lived. Tamils ​​and government forces fought each other again.

In 1999 Chandrika Kumaratunga was re-elected head of state. Martial law was imposed on Sri Lanka on May 11, 2000. Prime Minister Sirimawo Bandaranaike resigned.

On December 9th, 2001 Ranil Wickremasinghe became the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

His personal commitment led to the armistice with the rebels. The result of the peace negotiations in 2002 was a framework agreement - the transformation into a federal state based on the Swiss model, with the Tamil population enjoying great autonomy.

In 2003 there were ideas to reorganize the state politically and constitutionally. The central authority should have great influence. In its counter-proposal, however, the LTTE still wanted a Tamil autonomous state with a five-year commitment period.

It escalated once again between Kumuratunga and Prime Minister Wickremasinghe. During the election campaign, the most important ministries were occupied by her.

In the elections on April 2, 2004, Kumuratunga emerged victorious. She appointed Mahinda Rajapakse as prime minister. Rajapakse sought new peace negotiations with the LTTE.

Kumaratunga's stance against the Tamils ​​did not lead to peace readiness.

Sri Lanka - population, administration and economy
Sri Lanka - impact of the tsunami on December 26, 2004
Sri Lanka - Sigiriya mountain fortress
Sri Lanka - boat trip through the mangrove swamps
Sri Lanka - Peradeniya Botanical Garden
Sri Lanka - Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela
Sri Lanka - Dambulla rock temple
Sri Lanka - Firewalk at Esala Perahera
Sri Lanka - Bentota Fish Market
Sri Lanka - Pearl of the Indian Ocean
Sri Lanka - Ratnapura - Natural resources
Sri Lanka - tea plantations
Sri Lanka - Temple of the Tooth in Kandy


Map: Archive media workshop
Photo 1: Courtesy of Heidrun Porten
Photos 2 and 3: Media workshop