Seat in the north of a Tamil kingdom established in the 13th century, and in the south of an older Sinhalese kingdom, at the beginning of the 16th century. the island of Ceylon was joined by the Portuguese; these subjugated the two states, while inside a new Sinhalese kingdom was constituted which remained independent until 1815. The Dutch dominion took over the Portuguese (1658), in turn replaced by the British one (1796).
In the first decades of the 20th century. Forms of internal self-government were gradually introduced and in 1948 the country became independent, within the Commonwealth, with a parliamentary constitution. A conservative government, formed by the United National Party (UNP), led the country until 1956. The situation of the Sri Lanka was relatively stable until the mid-1950s, when difficulties emerged in the economic system inherited from the colonial era. The resulting social discontent favored the electoral victory of the nationalist and progressive Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in 1956. Nationalist measures (proclamation of Sinhalese as the official language and strengthening of the Buddhist identity) of the government of Solomon Bandaranaike, however moderately reformist, provoked tensions with the Tamil minority. In 1959 the premier was assassinated; his policy was continued by his widow, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the world’s first woman in the office of prime minister. In 1972 a new Constitution proclaimed the Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka and the policy of nationalization and strengthening of the role of the state was increased in response to the international energy crisis and the difficult economic situation of the country. Returning to the leadership of the government, the conservative UNP (1977), who adopted a liberal economic policy, its leader R. Jayawardene, after a constitutional change in the presidential sense (1978), became president of the Republic.
According to localcollegeexplorer, from the early 1980s, the conflict between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority (which since 1976 had claimed the independence of the north-eastern territories) intensified, leading to civil war. In 1987 an agreement between the government of Colombo and that of New Delhi (which had supported the Tamils) accepted some claims of the separatists, proclaiming among other things Tamil (in addition to Sinhalese) the country’s official language. An Indian Interposition Force (IPKF) was deployed, which took control of the northern province in 1988 and came into conflict with the separatist forces. Among these, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) occupied the Jaffna Peninsula in 1990; meanwhile the People’s Liberation Front started a violent terrorist campaign in the south of the country (1987-1989).
The successive governments in power, revolving around the main political parties of the island, UNP and SLFP, in an attempt to reach a solution, alternated the use of repression and armed confrontation with that of diplomacy, with poor results on both fronts, while the protracted failure to resolve the ethnic conflicts heavily conditioned the country’s political, economic and social life, fueling a crescendo of violence and terror that affected above all the civilian population, decimated by the reprisals of the various factions and by terrorist attacks. The opening of negotiations with the LLTs, cautiously initiated by the president, Mrs. CB Kumaratunga (leader of the SLFP) with the Norwegian mediation, has met with repeated failures, despite the truce signed in 2002 by the government of RS Wickremasinghe, duration, at least on paper, until 2008, when the government officially rejected it, along with the possibility of a political solution to the conflict. At the same time, a major offensive by the national army was launched, which in 2008-09 led to the reconquest of most of the territories already in the hands of the rebels, up to the decisive attack on the strongholds of the LTTE: the civil war, which claimed the lives of around 80,000 people, ended with the death of Tamil leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran (May 2009). Building on the success achieved, in January 2010 the President M. Rajapaksa, in office since 2005, obtained a second mandate, succeeding him following the consultations held in January 2015 by the former Minister of Health M. Sirisena. Having failed to change the electoral law and pass other constitutional reforms due to opposition from Parliament, in June of the same year the president dissolved the chambers and called new elections scheduled for the month of August. The vote saw the United National Front for Good Governance coalition prevail and the confirmation as premier of R. Wickremesinghe, who had taken office in January; defeated former president Rajapaksa, who aspired to the role of prime minister. Despite an apparently shared political program that provided for the modification of the country’s constitutional structures and the strengthening of its democratic structures, relations between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have progressively deteriorated due to programmatic differences and in view of the 2019 presidential elections. until it resulted in a serious institutional crisis in October 2018 caused by the president’s decision to dismiss the prime minister, replacing him with Rajapaksa and suspending the activities of Parliament; in the following November the Supreme Court nevertheless postponed the presidential decree to December, and the Parliament dished out the government led by Rajapaksa by reinstating Wickremesinghe in office. The presidential consultations held in November 2019 awarded the victory in the first round to G. Rajapaksa, who took office and appointed his brother M. Rajapaksa as prime minister of the country and minister of finance. In March 2020 the president dissolved the chambers and called new elections: held in August, the consultations recorded the clear victory of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party of G. and M.