Sri Lanka History, Religion and Politics

By | December 14, 2021

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Island country located southeast of India in Asia. Until 1972 it was called Ceylon. Originally known as Shri Lanka, it is inhabited by more than twenty million people. Colombo is the capital city of Sri Lanka according to itypemba.


The island was known in ancient times as Lanka, Lankadvīpa, Simoundou, Taprobane, Serendib and Selan, becoming popularly known as the “Island of a thousand names.” During its colonization, the island took the name, in English, of Ceylon, which was continued to be used later. Its particular shape and its proximity to India led to it being called the “Tear of India.”

Due to its location on the road to major sea lanes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and Southeast Asia, and has been a center of Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times. Today it is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country, in which almost a third of the population follows religions other than Buddhism, especially Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The Sinhalese community is in the majority.

Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, constitute the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include Arab Muslims, Malays, and Burghers.

Famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, rubber and coconut,

Sri Lanka has a progressive modern industrial economy and the highest per capita income in South Asia. Sri Lanka’s natural beauty in tropical forests, beaches and landscape, as well as its rich cultural heritage, make it a world-famous tourist destination.

After more than two thousand years of local rule by kingdoms, parts of Sri Lanka were colonized by Portugal and the Netherlands beginning in the 16th century, before control of the entire country was ceded to the British Empire in 1815. During the World War II, Sri Lanka served as an important base for the Allied forces in the fight against the Japanese Empire.

A nationalist political movement emerged in the country in the early 20th century in order to gain political independence, which was finally granted by the British after peace negotiations in 1948.

Sri Lanka’s history has been marked for more than two decades by an ethnic conflict between the national government and the insurgent movement Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

At the beginning of 2002, the two sides in conflict agreed to a ceasefire, which was repeatedly broken by both parties. At the beginning of 2009, the national government began an offensive against the Tigers that lasted several months and resulted in the annihilation of the guerrillas and the death of their high command, but at a very high cost of civilian lives.



Sri Lanka has a multi-ethnic and multi-religious population. The Buddhism, mainly the Theravada school, is religious faith of about 70% of the population.

According to traditional Sri Lankan chronicles (such as the Dipavamsa), Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BC by the Venerable Mahinda, the son of Emperor Ashoka, during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. At this time and under the patronage of this Sri Lankan king, a stem of the Bodhi tree itself was brought to Sri Lanka, under which Buddha received his enlightenment and the first monasteries were established. The Pali Canon (Thripitakaya), previously preserved as an oral tradition, was first written in Sri Lankan around 30 BC. n. and..

Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism among the predominant Buddhist nations, with the Sangha largely intact since its introduction in the 2nd century. During its periods of decline, the Sri Lankan monk lineage was revived by contact with Thailand and Burma. Periods of Mahayana influence, as well as official neglect under colonial rule, have posed great challenges to Sri Lanka’s Theravada Buddhist institutions, but their continued revivals – most recently in the 19th century – have kept the Theravada tradition alive for many years. more than 2000 years.

Buddhism was introduced to the island in the 3rd century BC. n. and. The prehistoric residents of Sri Lanka were the Veddahs. The Sinhalese arrived on the island in the 4th century BC. n. and., probably from the northern part of India, and developed a civilization with cities like Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

The Tamil population from the southern part of India also came to the island but the time, manner and number are unknown. In the 13th century, there was a Tamil society in the north and many fishing communities along the north coast of the island. The Tamils developed a different culture and politics than the Sinhalese. The relations between these two peoples were always complex between wars and ceasefires and invasions in both directions.


The Hinduism, brought to Sri Lanka by migrants or frequent invaders from southern India, is the second largest religion in Sri Lanka, mainly school shivaísta (worshipers of the god Shiva), constituting 15% of the population. The Islam was brought to the island by Arab traders in the course of many centuries and now his followers are counted by 8%.


Christianity, introduced to the island by European settlers in the 16th century, is embraced by 6% of the population. There was also a small portion of Zoroastrian followers who came from India (Parsis), who settled in Ceylon during the period of British power, but few of them remain as a result of emigration, having, however, played a significant role. role in the growth of the country. Sri Lanka’s last finance minister, Nariman Choksy, was a Parsee.

Form of Government

On July 1, 1960, the people of Sri Lanka elected the first woman in the government of Prime Minister Srimavo Bandaranaike. His daughter Chandrika Kumaratunga has served in various governments as prime minister and as president between 1999 and 2005. The current president is Mahinda Rajapaksa, who took office on November 21, 2005. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake is currently the prime minister from the same date.

The Constitution of Sri Lanka establishes a unitary state of democratic regime: the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The government is a mixture of the presidential and parliamentary system.

The president of the nation is also head of state, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and president of the government, and is popularly elected for a term of six years. In the exercise of his duties, the President is accountable to Parliament, which is a unicameral legislature of 225 representatives. The President appoints his cabinet of ministers from among the elected deputies. The Prime Minister leads the ruling party in the chamber and shares many executive responsibilities, mainly in domestic affairs.

The deputies are elected by universal suffrage. Representatives are re-elected every six years. Parliamentary representation is based on a proportional system by districts with a particular rule: the party that receives the majority of the vote in each electoral district also wins an “extraordinary seat.” The president can call, suspend or close a legislative session and dissolve Parliament at any time after its first year of session. Parliament has the legislative power.


During the Cold War, Sri Lanka pursued a foreign policy of non-alignment, bringing its positions closer to the United States and Western Europe. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces, under the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, are comprised of the Army, Navy and the Sri Lankan Air Force.

Since the 1980s, the army has led the government’s response against the Marxist militants of the JVP and now the militant forces of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Tigers group. Sri Lanka receives considerable military aid from Pakistan, China, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Sri Lanka Politics