History: known to the ancient world as Taprobane and later as Serendip, the island was also known as Lanka, Sinhala Deepa an Seelan at different times. Until 1972, it was Ceylon. The country became independent on 4 February 1948 and on 22 may the Republic of Sri Lanka was created.
Before the new republican constitution was promulgated, a youth insurrection in April 1971 rocked prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranike’s (world’s first woman Pm) United Front government, leading to her imposing several harsh socialist measures. By the 1977 general election, a country tired of endemic scarcities and rising prices swept her out of office.
The United National Party (UNP) administration of Prime Minister Junius Jayewardene which took over, replaced the 1972 constitution and Jayewardene assumed unprecedented power as executive president, becoming both head of state and head of government. He was elected to a second six-year term in October 1982, and in a referendum won a mandate to extend parliament to 1989. In late 1988, former prime minister Ranasinghe Premadasa was elected executive president for a 6 year term.
The Tamils in Sri Lanka have been fighting for more power for over a decade. In 1978, some concessions such as the recognition of the Tamil language were made. TULF – Tamil United Liberation Front-spearheaded the agitation. Late more militant organizations like the LTTE-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam-and EPRLF-Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front Joined the struggle. More than 54,000 have died in the civil war.
On 29 July 1987, however, an important breakthrough was made when President Jaywardene and the Indian Pm, Rajiv Gandhi signed an accord regarding a settlement of the country’s ethnic crisis. Accordingly an IPKF-Indian Peace Keeping Force-was sent to the island to end the hostilities and supervise surrender of arms. After a long period of bloody military operation, the hostilities and supervise surrender of arms. After a long period of bloody military operation, the IPKF started pulling out its forces on Sept. 20. 1989.
In November, parliament adopted the legislation establishing provincial councils. In the election held in the North Eastern Province under the IPKF started pulling out its forces on Sept. 20, 1089.
In November, parliament adopted the legislation establishing provincial councils. In the election held in the North Eastern Province under the Peace Plan, Varadaraja Perumal of EPRLF became Chief Minister.
President Ranasinghe Premadasa lifted the emergency after more than 51\2 years on January 11, 1989 and general elections were held in February. United national Party won and the former Finance Minister D.B. Wijetunge was appointed Prime Minister.
President R.Premadasa, 69, was assassinated by a suicide bomber on May 1, 1993 and the prime Minister D.B. Wijetunge, 71, was elected President. Ranil Wickremasinghe was appointed Prime Minister.
Parliamentary elections were held on 19 August 1994, and Chandrika Kumaratunga formed the government.
After the presidential elections of 9 Nov., chandrika Kumaratunga became President.
Under the new government, her mother Sirimavo Bandaranaike was made Prime Minister. Mrs. Bandaranaike died on Oct. 10,2000.
War between northern Tamil separatists and govt. forces continued, in spite of a ceasefire of Jan. 3, 1995. In jan. ’98, the govt. outlawed LTTE. Jaffna Mayor Ms. Sarojini Yogeswaran was assassinated by LTTE
In may. In Aug., the public emergency was extended to all over Sri Lanka.
Economy: Sri Lanka’s predominantly rural population is concentrated in the west, south and south-west regions, where rubber, tea and coconuts are grown. About one-half of the working population are engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing, and only agriculture provides 21% of the gross domestic product (GDP). Of the total area of 6,561,000 hectares, about 2m. hectares are under cultivation. Agriculture engages about 45% of the labour force. The main crops are paddy, rubber, tea and coconuts.
In 1978, Sri Lanka was the world’s largest exporter of tea, when tea, rubber and coconut together contributed about 70% of total export earnings. This position gradually declined. However, early 1990s showed signs of revival. The 1993-97 plan aimed at a 6.4% annual growth rate. The main industries are food, beverages, tobacco, textiles, clothing and leather goods, chemicals, petroleum, rubber and plastics. Principal exports are tea, rubber, copra, coconut oil and desiccated coconut, textiles and garments, precious and semi-precious stones. Gems are among the chief minerals mined and exported. Principal imports are petroleum, machinery and equipment, vehicles transport equipment and food and beverages.
Experimental television broadcasting began in April 1979. Roopavahini, a national television network was established, with stations at Mount Pidurutalagala, Kokavil and Kandy, from which telecasting began in December 1982.
Recent Events: On Dec. 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, caused a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that devastated 12 Asian countries. About 30,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka. President Kumaratunga and the Tamil tigers reached a deal in June 2—5 to share about $ 4.5 billion in international aid to rebuild the country after the devastating tsunami. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgar was assassinated in a gun attack in Colombo in August. The murder was blamed on the separatist Tamil tigers, who have been observing a ceasefire since 2002.