Sri Lanka Brief History

By | November 2, 2021

Those who want many cultural experiences without having to travel long distances should visit the small island nation of Sri Lanka. No country in the world can offer so many world heritage sites in such a small area as Sri Lanka. Here are seven world heritage sites on the UNESCO list. I visited six of them; Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandy and Galle.

In addition to these places, I visited the commercial capital Colombo with its bustling metropolitan life, the Mihintale with its beautiful scenery and its unique monastic residences. The trip ended with a few days of relaxing beach life on a Mirissa’s beautiful beaches and a whale safari where I had the opportunity to see blue whales, the world’s largest animals. I also had time for a short visit to the coastal town of Matara in the south where I was blessed by a Buddhist monk for the second time during the trip.

During my three-week trip to Sri Lanka, I got around by train, local buses, three-wheeled tuc-tucs, bicycle and on foot.

It is easy to move around Sri Lanka. There are train lines between major cities, the bus connections are good and the trips are frequent. The supply of tuc-tucs is good everywhere. And all transportation is incredibly cheap!

Visit Sri Lanka for many great cultural experiences and wonderful beaches!

Sri Lanka became the 112 country / autonomous region I visited.

Sri Lanka history in brief

According to cheeroutdoor, archaeologists have unearthed stone tools that indicate that humans have been living on the island of Sri Lanka for some 500,000 years. The small ethnic group Vedda constitutes a remnant of the indigenous population. The larger ethnic groups came to the island much later from India, but both Sinhalese and Tamils ​​believe that they were first. Modern research claims that the Sinhalese immigrated about 400 years before our era, while the Tamils ​​came a couple of hundred years later. The first Sinhalese communities were formed in the northern part of the island.

Sri Lanka history, older

200s BC

Buddhism came to Sri Lanka

200- – 1000s after Christ

Had the Buddhist Sinhalese culture a period of greatness. During this period, advanced irrigation systems were developed by the rice fields which led to high prosperity

13th century

After repeated invasions from South India, the Sri Lankan kingdoms fell and the Sinhalese moved to the more rainy southwestern part of the island. A Tamil province was now founded with Indian help in the north

14th century

The Tamil culture had a heyday on the Jaffna Peninsula


The first Europeans, Portuguese, arrive in Sri Lanka. At this time there were two Sinhalese kingdoms, Kotte and Kandy, in the south and a Tamil kingdom in the north. Muslim Moors, descendants of Arab traders who arrived in the 8th and 8th centuries, also lived on the island. These controlled the spice trade

Despite opposition, the Portuguese managed to colonize large parts of the island within a century, and their missionaries successfully spread Catholicism.

17th century, middle

The Portuguese were expelled by the Dutch

18th century, late

The British expelled the Dutch


Ceylon became a British Crown Colony

19th century, late

As a counter-reaction to the changes brought about by colonialism, Buddhist-inspired nationalist currents emerged. The main leader of this movement was Anrika Dharmapala, who reformed Buddhism and laid the foundations of Buddhist-Sinhalese nationalism.

History of Sri Lanka, modern 1900 – 1999

1900s, beginning

Increased demands for self-government increased among the English-speaking elite


In accordance with a constitutional reform, a National Council with legislative tasks was established within the framework of the British Government

Ceylon, as the first colony in Asia, held general elections to the National Council


In February, Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, became an independent state within the British Commonwealth. Stephen Senanayake was elected Prime Minister, leader of the right-wing United National Party (UNP), which he founded in 1946.


Died Prime Minister Stephen Senanayake. His son Dudley took over the post and the party won a landslide victory in the election


In the parliamentary elections, the Socialist Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) founded by Solomon Bandaranaike won. SLFP won largely by playing on singles nationalist sentiments. Riots broke out when Bandaranaike made Sinhalese the only official language shortly after the election


Murdered in Bandaranaike and succeeded by his widow Sirimavo who became the world’s first female prime minister


Dudley Senanayake and his party won the UNP parliamentary election and regained government power


Sirimavo Bandaranaike and her party won the parliamentary elections and the government


broke out an armed uprising, led by students and activists of the Marxist Sinhalese movement People’s Liberation Front JVP


The country got a new constitution and became a republic under the name Sri Lanka

During the 1970s, Tamils ​​became increasingly discriminated against. Demands for increased autonomy were increasingly replaced by demands for a separate state in the north and east: Eelam. Several radical movements were formed. One group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), took up arms for their cause


The parliamentary elections led to the UNP regaining power


A new constitution was adopted that strengthened the president’s power. UNP leader JR Jayawardena was named president


JR Jayawardena won the country’s first official presidential election


After the “Tamil Tigers”, LTTE, killed several Sinhalese soldiers in an attack in July, the worst violence in the country’s history broke, so far. The violence mainly affected Tamils ​​who were killed in the hundreds. More than 100,000 Tamils ​​fled across the strait to India. In their attempts to overthrow the LTTE, the military advanced in the Tamil-dominated areas to the north and east

The “Tamil Tigers” gained control of large parts of the Jaffna Peninsula in the north. The guerrillas carried out terrorist acts in the southern part of the country. Gradually, the LTTE maneuvered out other Tamil guerrilla groups and established a global network of contacts in support of its struggle.


In June, a first peace deal was signed between the LTTE and the government, following the mediation of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. An Indian peacekeeping force was sent to Sri Lanka, which included 100,000 men

The Singles Nationalist JVP launched a terror campaign against supporters of the peace agreement


UNP candidate Ranasinghe Premadasa was elected new president. The UNP also won the next parliamentary elections

Tamil became the official language along with Sinhala


The Indian peacekeeping force was withdrawn despite the failure to achieve peace

The military defeated the JVP with heavy losses as a result, thousands of people had been killed
In the northern part of the country, the LTTE attacked Muslims. Hundreds were killed in massacres and tens of thousands displaced


In May, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in a suicide bombing during an election rally in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Tigers were behind the act which resulted in the guerrillas losing their former support in India


In a terrorist attack carried out by the LTTE in Colombo, President Premadasa was killed


When the SLFP returned to government, the party led an election alliance that became the largest in parliament.
In the presidential election, the SLFP’s candidate Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga won. Her mother, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, was appointed Prime Minister


Ahead of the presidential election, Kumaratunga was injured in a bomb blast. Shortly after the attack, she was re-elected president

Sri Lanka Brief History