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 worldÂ¡Â¯s first woman prime minister. .
Ceylon became the Republic of Sri Lanka in 1972. Throughout the 1980s Tamil opposition to Sinhalese rule increased. The Tamils began to fight for an independent homeland in the north and east of the island. Violence continued in the 1990s. In 1993, the president was assassinated by a suicide bomber. .
The population in Sri Lanka was about 17.3 million. The majority of the population is Sinhalese, but Tamils form a minority. The Sinhalese are Buddhists while the Tamils are Hindus. There were two types of Tamils in Sri Lanka: The Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils. The Indian Tamils are the descendents of the tea plantation workers brought to the country by the British. .
In the year 1948, Sri Lanka gained independence from the British. The conflicts therefore started because the Tamils were unhappy with the Sinhalese-dominated government as they had been unfair to them in several ways. .
In 1948, Sri Lanka granted citizenship to those who were born in Sri Lanka. Most of the Indian Tamils living there found themselves stateless. It meant that they were not citizens of any country. They even lost the right to vote in Sri Lanka. In 1964, India decided to help its fellow Indian Tamils who were neither citizens of India nor Sri Lanka.