Sinhalese versus the Tamils

Essay by kajendranHigh School, 12th gradeA, March 2004

download word file, 4 pages 3.0

Sri Lanka formerly called Ceylon in English and known in Tamil as 'ILANKAI'. It's an island situated at the southern extremity of the Indian subcontinent, separated from it at its narrowest point by only 22 miles of sea called Palk Strait. There are many ethnic groups in Sri Lanka but the two main ones would be the Singhalese and the Tamils. The Sinhalese are the majority and the Tamils are the minority. According to the population statistics in 1991 the total population is 17 103 000 in which 12,656,000 are Sinhalese, 3 113 000 are Tamils, Muslims (mostly Tamil speaking) are 1 214 000 and 120 000 other ethnic groups. Srilanka was conquered by colonists from India about 543 B.C. Parts of the island were taken by Portugal in 1505 and Dutch in 1658. In 1796 the British gained control over the Dutch's. They made it a crown colony called Ceylon in 1802.

The British ruled this island for over 100 years. During the colonization of the island and by the British, the British forcibly moved tens of thousands of Tamils from their traditional homeland in the North to the center of the island, where the Sinhalese kingdom was, with no thought of the long-term consequences. When Sri Lanka became an independent nation in 1948 the people of the island began governing themselves, but they were still part of the British Commonwealth. In 1972, Ceylon became the Republic of Sri Lanka. When the British left the Sinhalese were elected to be in power cause that ethnic group was the majority. When the Sinhalese were elected they introduced a numerous number of laws which took away the fundamental right of the Tamils. The government made 'Sinhala' the official language. Because of the New Republican Constitution the sovereignty of the...