Sri Lanka is an island state in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of India. In the early 16th century, the island was invaded and colonized by the Portuguese. However, the Sinhalese managed to maintain an independent kingdom around Kandy. The Portuguese were later removed forcibly by the Dutch. In 1796, it was named Ceylon by the British.
Ceylon became an independent state in 1948 and was governed by the United National Party (UNP). In the 1956 elections, the Sinhalese nationalist Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) defeated the UNP. The leader of SLFP, Solomon Bandaranaike was later assassinated. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, his widow, stood for the election in 1960 and became the world Â¡ Â¯s first woman prime minister.
Ceylon became the Republic of Sri Lanka in 1972. Throughout the 1980s Tamil opposit