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Sri Lanka History Timeline

Sri Lanka's Information

Flag of Sri Lanka
Land Area 64,630 km2
Water Area 980 km2
Total Area 65,610km2 (#120)
Population 21,203,000 (#58)
Population Density 328.07/km2
Government Type Presidential Republic
GDP (PPP) $237.00 Billion
GDP Per Capita $11,200
Currency Rupee (LKR)
Largest Cities
900BC - 100BC
  • (900 BC) Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka) was founded
  • (543 BC) Colonists from northern India subdued Sri Lanka indigenous Vaddahs (Veddah)
  • (161 BC - 137 BC) Reign of King Duthagamani, construction began on Ruwanmalisaya stupa
200 AD - 1000
  • (277 - 304) 16 reservoirs, including Minneriya Tank and two irrigation canals were built during reign of King Mahasen
  • (993) Anuradhapura captured by Indian Cola Empire
  • (1017) Capital of Sri Lanka transferred to Polonnaruva by Indian Cola Empire
1500 - 1800
  • (1505) Portuguese arrived in Colombo
  • (1518) Portugal and Kingdom of Kotte, Ceylon signed peace treaty
  • (1658) Portuguese forced out by Dutch
  • (1659) Dutch established control over entire island with exception of kingdom of Kandy
  • (1796) British began takeover; island named Ceylon
  • (1802) Treaty of Amiens formally ceded Dutch-controlled part of island to British
  • (1815) British conquered Kingdom of Kandy
  • (1815) British began to bring in Tamil laborers from southern India to work on tea, coffee, coconut plantations
  • (1833) Entire island united under British administration
  • (1931) Right to vote was granted, power-sharing with Sinhalese-run cabinet began
  • (1937) Capture of wild elephants was banned
  • (1948) British rule ended, Ceylon became independent
  • (1948) United National Party formed first government
  • (1948) Don Stephen Senanayake sworn in as first Prime Minister
  • (1949) Many Indian-Tamil workers deprived of citizenship, became disenfranchised, accused government of discrimination
  • (1956) Sri Lankan Freedom Party formed new government; Solomon Bandaranaike became Prime Minister
  • (1956) Sinhala became official language
  • (1956) Tamils rioted in protest of new laws, more than 100 killed
  • (1958) More than 200 killed in anti-Tamil riots; thousands of Tamils displaced
  • (1959) Prime Minister Bandaranaike assassinated by Buddhist monk; succeeded by his widow, Sirimavo
  • (1960) Sirimavo Bandaranaike elected Prime Minister - world's first female Prime Minister
  • (1960) Sirimavo Bandaranaike began nationalization program, enforced Sinhala Only Law
  • (1964) Cyclone struck Ceylon and India, killing 4,850
  • (1965) United National Party won elections; attempted reversal of nationalization programs
  • (1970) Srimavo Bandaranaike reelected; extended nationalization programs
  • (1972) Ceylon changed name to Sri Lanka; Buddhism selected as primary religion; Sinhala was made official language
  • (1972) Velupillai Prabhakaran, Tamil Tiger leader, formed Tamil New Tigers (TNT); demanded separate Tamil state on island's north and east
  • (1976) TNT renamed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly known as Tigers
  • (1977) United National Party regained power, Junius Richard Jayewardene elected Prime Minister
  • (1977) Separatist Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) party won all seats in Tamil areas
  • (1977) More than 100 Tamils killed in anti-Tamil riots
  • (1978) Cyclone killed 1,500 people
  • (1978) New constitution went into effect, provided for unicameral Parliament with legislative power, Executive President
  • (1978) Junius Richard Jayewardene became first president with executive powers
  • (1981) During three days of anti-Tamil rioting, Jaffna Public Library set on fire; over 97,000 books and manuscripts on Tamil history and culture were destroyed
  • (1983) 13 soldiers killed in LTTE ambush
  • (1983) Anti-Tamil riots broke out, thousands of Tamil citizens killed
  • (1983) Tigers called riots and deaths the beginning of the First Eelam War
  • (1984) First peace talks held in Thimpu, Bhutan between Tamil fighters, Sri Lankan government; Tamil demands rejected, talks broke down
  • (1985) Sri Lanka was founding member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
  • (1986) Tamil Tigers bombed Airlanka plane at Colombo airport, 16 killed
  • (1987) LTTE pushed into city of Jaffna by government forces
  • (1987) Sri Lankan government created new councils for Tamil areas in north and south
  • (1987) Tamil extremists killed 127 people in Trincomalee
  • (1987) Tamil Tigers exploded a car bomb at Colombo central bus stand killing 113
  • (1987) Operation Liberation began in Jaffra against Tamil rebellion; resulted in over 1,000 deaths and 2,000 arrests
  • (1987) India deployed peacekeeping force to Sri Lanka in Indo-Sri Lankan Accord
  • (1987) 50,000 Indian troops arrived in Jaffna to assist in disarming the Tamil Tigers
  • (1987 - 1989) Thousands of leftists were killed during attempts to topple government
  • (1990) Indian peacekeeping forces began withdrawal
This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.

About the Author

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