The oldest population were hunting tribes, the ancestors of the Veddas. The first Indo-Aryans appeared in the north of the island in the 5th century. BC. The city of Anuradhapura was founded, which later became the capital of the first major Sinhalese state association. King Devanampiya Tissa (250-207 BC) played a key role in these processes. Anuradhapura sought to extend its power over the entire island.
In the 9th century the Buddhist state was attacked by the Pandyas, in the 10th century. – The Chols, who turned the island into their province for 75 years, the capital of which was Polonnaruwa. The Cholas were expelled (1070) by King Vijayabahu I, who ruled until 1110. Economic prosperity in the 2nd half. 12th c. It was replaced by constant civil strife in the 13th century. and raids of conquerors from India. According to localcollegeexplorer, the resettlement of the Sinhalese began in the central and southwestern regions of the island. In the north, a Tamil state appeared – Jaffna. In the 15th century King Parakramabahu VI (1412–67) reunited the island, but after his death the country plunged into civil strife.
To the beginning 16th century refers to the penetration of Portugal, in the 17th century. only the territory of the kingdom of Kandy remained uncontrolled by it. In 1658, the Dutch defeated the Portuguese after a twenty-year war, after which they began to gradually seize more and more new territories, waging war against Kandy. The Dutch East India Company monopolized the trade in a number of goods. The legislation and the legal system were reformed.
In 1802 Ceylon became a British colony. To the beginning 1830s British authority was firmly established throughout the island. A plantation economy appeared, originally coffee, which became a catalyst for economic development. The country’s socio-economic development accelerated sharply, and capitalist development, albeit one-sided, began. In 1864, the first national socio-political organization, the Ceylon League, was created, advocating the expansion of the participation of local residents in the government of the country. The first major political party, the Ceylon National Congress, appeared in 1919. The 1931 constitution, which provided for the creation of an elected parliament—the Council of State, and the introduction of universal suffrage—led to the emergence of the rudiments of representative government in the country.
In accordance with the Ceylon Independence Law of 1947, elections were held in the country, in which the overwhelming majority of seats were won by the United National Party (UNP), created in 1946 from a number of organizations, including the Ceylon National Congress. Party leader D. S. Senanayake (1884-1952) was proclaimed prime minister. On February 4, 1948, a new Constitution came into force, granting independence to Ceylon as a dominion.
The first government did not seek a radical elimination of the colonial legacy. In the sphere of foreign policy, it was largely oriented towards Great Britain. In 1951, the center-left led by Solomon Bandaranaike left the UNP and created the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (PSFL), which won the 1956 parliamentary elections. In 1958, agrarian reform began, the development of the public sector and industry, and important socio-economic transformations were carried out. A course was taken to strengthen relations with India, establish diplomatic relations with the socialist countries, and pursue a policy of non-alignment (already in 1957, Great Britain was forced to close its military bases in Ceylon). In the spheres of economy and culture, discriminatory measures against Tamils have intensified. In September 1959 Bandaranaike was killed. His widow, Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1916–2000), won the 1960 elections and became the world’s first female leader of a country. Sufficiently radical socio-economic transformations, including the nationalization of a number of facilities owned by Western companies, an alliance with left-wing forces led to a government crisis. In 1965, the UNP returned to power (in alliance with other parties), which failed to resolve complex economic problems. In 1970, S. Bandaranaike returned to power in alliance with the communists and socialists. In 1971, ultra-left forces raised an armed uprising, which was suppressed with difficulty by the authorities. In 1972 a new constitution was adopted, according to which a republic was proclaimed. Many provisions protecting the rights of minorities were removed. The government failed to cope with inflation, rising unemployment and a deepening economic crisis. In 1977, the UNP, headed by J.R. Jayawardene. A course was pursued towards economic liberalization, partial denationalization, and encouragement of private and foreign capital. A pro-Western foreign policy was pursued. In 1978, a new constitution came into force, introducing a presidential form of government. Jayawardene became the country’s first president. Re-elected in 1982.
Despite small concessions to minorities, extremist and terrorist Tamil organizations emerged. In July 1983, the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict escalated into a civil war, which by 2003 had claimed the lives of approx. 70 thousand people The deployment of an Indian peacekeeping contingent to the island (1987–90) ended in failure. R. Gandhi and the President of Sri Lanka, Ranasinghe Premadas, were killed at the hands of Tamil militants.
In 1994, the UNP’s 17-year stay in power ended. SLFL leader Chandrika Kumaratunga became president. The post of prime minister was given to her mother, S. Bandaranaike. The 2001 parliamentary elections were won by the UNP, headed by the president’s main political rival, R. Wickremasinghe, who became prime minister. In February 2002, he signed a ceasefire agreement with Tamil militant leaders through Norway’s mediation.