Colony of Ceylon
Anthem: God Save the King/Queen
British Ceylon, c. 1914
|George III (first)|
|George VI (last)|
|Frederick North (first)|
|Sir Henry Monck-Mason Moore (last)|
|Don Stephen Senanayake|
|Historical era||British Ceylon period|
|5 March 1796|
• Establishment of Dual Administration
|25 March 1802|
|2 March 1815|
|4 February 1948|
|1881||65,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi)|
|1891||65,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi)|
|1901||65,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi)|
|1924||65,992 km2 (25,480 sq mi)|
|1946||65,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi)|
|Today part of||Sri Lanka|
Ceylon (Sinhala: බ්රිතාන්ය ලංකාව, Brithānya Laṃkāva; Tamil: பிரித்தானிய இலங்கை, Birithaniya Ilangai) was the British Crown colony of present-day Sri Lanka between 1796 and 4 February 1948. Initially, the area it covered did not include the Kingdom of Kandy, which was a protectorate, but from 1817 to 1948 the British possessions included the whole island of Ceylon, now the nation of Sri Lanka.
|Historical states of Sri Lanka|
Before the beginning of the Dutch governance, the island of Ceylon was divided between the Portuguese Empire and the Kingdom of Kandy, who were in the midst of a war for control of the island as a whole. The island attracted the attention of the newly formed Dutch Republic when they were invited by the Sinhalese King to fight the Portuguese. Dutch rule over much of the island was soon imposed.
In the late 18th century the Dutch, weakened by their wars against Great Britain, were conquered by Napoleonic France, and their leaders became refugees in London. No longer able to govern their part of the island effectively, the Dutch transferred the rule of it to the British, although this was against the wishes of the Dutch residing there. The capture of the island immediately yielded £300,000 of money in goods, as well as the acquisition of the cinnamon plantations, making this a valuable venture.
As soon as Great Britain gained the European-controlled parts of Ceylon from the Dutch, they wanted to expand their new sphere of influence by making the native Kingdom of Kandy a protectorate, an offer initially refused by the King of Kandy. Although the previous Dutch administration had not been powerful enough to threaten the reign of the Kandyan Kings, the British were much more powerful. The Kandyan refusal to accept a protectorate led eventually to war, which ended with the capitulation of the Kandyans.
The rule of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe was not favoured by his chieftains. The king, who was of South Indian ancestry, faced powerful chieftains and sought cruel measures to repress their popularity with the people. A successful coup was organised by the Sinhala chiefs in which they accepted the British Crown as their new sovereign. This ended the line of the kingdom of Kandy and King Rajasinghe was taken as a prisoner, ending his hope that the British would allow him to retain power. The Kandyan treaty which was signed in 1815 was called the Kandyan Convention and stated the terms under which the Kandyans would live as a British protectorate. The Buddhist religion was to be given protection by the Crown, and Christianity would not be imposed on the population, as had happened during Portuguese and Dutch rule. The Kandyan Convention is an important legal document because it specifies the conditions which the British promised for the Kandyan territory.
It took the ruling families of Kandy less than two years to realise that the authority of the British government was a fundamentally different one to that of the (deposed) Nayakkar dynasty. Soon the Kandyans rebelled against the British and waged a guerrilla war. Discontent with British activities soon boiled over into open rebellion, commencing in the duchy of Uva in 1817, so-called the Uva Rebellion, also known as the Third Kandyan War. The main cause of the rebellion was the British authorities' failure to protect and uphold the customary Buddhist traditions, which were viewed by the islanders as an integral part of their lives.
The rebellion, which soon developed into a guerrilla war of the kind the Kandyans had fought against European powers for centuries, was centred on the Kandyan nobility and their unhappiness with developments under British rule since 1815. However it was the last uprising of this kind and in the Uva Province a scorched earth policy was pursued, and all males between 15 and 60 years were driven out, exiled or killed. The British Crown annexed the Kingdom of Kandy to British Ceylon in 1817.
Sivasundaram argues that the British used geographical knowledge to defeat the Kandyan holdouts in the mountainous and jungle areas in the centre of Ceylon. They used local informants and British surveyors to map the island, then built a network of roads to open the central region. This made possible export production of plantation agriculture, as well as tighter military control.
With its trading ports of Trincomalee and Colombo, the colony was one of the very few sources of cinnamon in the world. The spice was extremely valuable, and the British East India Company began to cultivate it from 1767, but Ceylon remained the main producer until the end of the 18th century
The laying of the railway was carried out during the Governorship of Sir Henry Ward. The opening of coffee and tea plantations, road development schemes, the establishment of hospitals and maternity homes throughout the island, were just some of the major works undertaken by the British who ruled Sri Lanka.
|Source: Department of Census and Statistics Sri Lanka|
The multiracial population of Ceylon was numerous enough to support the European colonists; the Portuguese and the Dutch offspring of the past 440 odd years of colonial history was large enough to run a stable government. Unlike the previous rulers, the British embarked on a plantation programme which initially brought coffee plantations to the island. These were later wiped out by coffee rust. Coffee plants were replaced by tea and rubber plantations. This made Ceylon one of the richest countries in Asia.
The British also brought Tamils from British India and made them indentured labourers in the Hill Country. This was in addition to the several hundred thousand Tamils already living in the Maritime provinces and another 30,000 Tamil Muslims. The linguistically bipolar island needed a link language and English became universal in Ceylon.
Censuses in Ceylon began in 1871 and continued every ten years. The 1881 census shows a total population of 2.8 million, consisting of 1.8 million Sinhalese; 687,000 Ceylon and Indian Tamils; 185,000 Moors; as well as 4,800 Europeans; 17,900 Burghers and Eurasians; 8,900 Malays; 2,200 Veddhas; and 7,500 other.
The Censuses of 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 had shown Ceylon Tamils and Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka grouped together. By 1911 Indian Tamils were shown as a separate category. The population statistics reveal that by 1911, Indian Tamils constituted 12.9%, whereas Sri Lankan Tamils formed 12.8% of the population of 4,106,400; in 1921, 13.4% and 11.5%; in 1931, 15.2% and 11.3%, and in 1946, 11.7% and 11.0% respectively. The censuses show that during a large period of time in the history of Ceylon, Indian Tamils outnumbered Ceylon Tamils until between 1971 and 1981 where more than 50 per cent of the Indian Tamil population were repatriated as Indian citizens back to India. However, many Indian Tamils were also granted Sri Lankan citizenship whereupon declared themselves as Sri Lankan Tamils.
Between 1796 and 1948, Ceylon was a British Crown colony. Although the British monarch was the head of state, in practice his or her functions were exercised in the colony by the colonial Governor, who acted on instructions from the British government in London.
On the approach to self-government and independence, the Donoughmore Commission recommended the Donoughmore Constitution of 1931-47, one of a series of attempts to create a workable solution that would allow for inter-communal differences. This was replaced by the Soulbury Commission proposals that led to the Dominion of Ceylon of 1948-72, after which the Free, Sovereign and the Independent Republic of Sri Lanka was established.
The Ceylon Defence Force (CDF) was the military of British Ceylon. Established in 1881 as the Ceylon Volunteers, as the military reserve in the British Crown colony of Ceylon, by 1910 it grew into the Ceylon Defence Force, a regular force responsible for the defence of Ceylon. The CDF was under the command of the General Officer Commanding, Ceylon, of the British Army in Ceylon if mobilised. However, mobilisation could be carried out only under orders from the Governor. The Ceylon Defence Force has seen action in a number of wars such as the Second Boer War and both World Wars. It is the predecessor to the Ceylon Army.
Trincomalee Harbour was an important strategic base for the British Royal Navy until 1948, primarily to control the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.
The history of Sri Lanka is intertwined with the history of the broader Indian subcontinent and the surrounding regions, comprising the areas of South Asia, Southeast Asia and Indian Ocean.
Kandy is a major city in Sri Lanka located in the Central Province. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is both an administrative and religious city and is also the capital of the Central Province. Kandy is the home of the Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Historically the local Buddhist rulers resisted Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial expansion and occupation.
The flag of Sri Lanka, also called the Sinha Flag or Lion Flag, consists of a golden lion holding a kastane sword in its right fore-paw in a maroon background with four gold bo leaves, one in each corner. This is bordered by gold, and to its left are two vertical stripes of equal size in green and orange, with the orange stripe closest to the lion. The lion and the maroon background represent the Sinhalese, while the saffron border and four bo leaves represent concepts of mettā, karuṇā, muditā and upekshā respectively. The stripes represent the country's two largest minorities, with the orange representing the Tamils living in Sri Lanka – both the native Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka – and the green representing the Muslims of Sri Lanka.
The Kandyan Wars refers generally to the period of warfare between the British colonial forces and the Kingdom of Kandy, on the island of what is now Sri Lanka, between 1796 and 1818. More specifically it is used to describe the expeditionary campaigns of the British Army in the Kingdom of Kandy in 1803 and 1815.
Uva Province is Sri Lanka's second least populated province, with 1,259,880 people, created in 1896. It consists of two districts: Badulla and Moneragala. The provincial capital is Badulla. Uva is bordered by Eastern, Southern, Sabaragamuwa and Central provinces. Its major tourist attractions are Dunhinda falls, Diyaluma Falls, Rawana Falls, the Yala National Park and Gal Oya National Park. The Gal Oya hills and the Central mountains are the main uplands, while the Mahaweli and Menik rivers and the huge Senanayake Samudraya and Maduru Oya Reservoirs are the major waterways.
Great Liberation War of 1817–18, also known as the 1818 Uva–Wellassa uprising, was the third Kandyan War between native Kandyan rebels and the British, in what is now Sri Lanka. It took place in what is now Uva, then a province of the Kingdom of Kandy, against the British colonial government under Governor Robert Brownrigg, which had been controlling the formerly independent Udarata.
The Sri Lankan independence movement was a peaceful political movement which was aimed at achieving independence and self-rule for the country of Sri Lanka, then British Ceylon, from the British Empire. The switch of powers was generally known as peaceful transfer of power from the British administration to Ceylon representatives, a phrase that implies considerable continuity with a colonial era that lasted 400 years. It was initiated around the turn of the 20th century and led mostly by the educated middle class. It succeeded when, on 4 February 1948, Ceylon was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. Dominion status within the British Commonwealth was retained for the next 24 years until 22 May 1972 when it became a republic and was renamed the Republic of Sri Lanka.
The Matale rebellion, also known as the Rebellion of 1848, took place in Ceylon against the British colonial government under Governor Lord Torrington, 7th Viscount Torrington. It marked a transition from the classic feudal form of anti-colonial revolt to modern independence struggles. It was fundamentally a peasant revolt.
Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was the last of four Kings, to rule the last Sinhalese monarchy of the Kingdom of Kandy in Sri Lanka. The Nayak Kings were of Telugu origin who practiced Shaivite Hinduism and were patrons of Theravada Buddhism. The Nayak rulers played a huge role in reviving Buddhism in the island. They spoke Telugu or Tamil, and used Tamil as the court language in Kandy alongside Sinhala.
Dutch Ceylon was a governorate established in present-day Sri Lanka by the Dutch East India Company. Although the Dutch managed to capture most of the coastal areas in Sri Lanka they were never able to control the Kandyan Kingdom located in the interior of the island. Dutch Ceylon existed from 1640 until 1796.
The Nayaks of Kandy were the rulers of the Kingdom of Kandy between 1739 and 1815, and the last dynasty to rule on the island. The term Nayak is derived from the Sanskrit word Nāyaka. Their rise to power came about as a result of the death of Vira Narendrasinha, who left no legitimate heir- the throne passed to his brother-in-law, who was crowned as Sri Vijaya Rajasinha in 1739. They were of Telugu origin, spoke Telugu or Tamil, and used Sinhala and Tamil as their court languages.
The Kingdom of Kandy was a monarchy on the island of Sri Lanka, located in the central and eastern portion of the island. It was founded in the late 15th century and endured until the early 19th century.
The Legislative Council of Ceylon was the legislative body of Ceylon established in 1833, along with the Executive Council of Ceylon, on the recommendations of the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission. It was the first form of representative government in the island. The 1931 Donoughmore Constitution replaced the Legislative Council with the State Council of Ceylon.
The British Ceylon period is the history of Sri Lanka between 1815 and 1948. It follows the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom into the hands of the British Empire. It ended over 2300 years of Sinhalese monarchy rule on the island. The British rule on the island lasted until 1948 when the country regained independence.
Portuguese Ceylon is the name given to the territory on Ceylon, modern-day Sri-Lanka, controlled by the Portuguese Empire between 1597 and 1658.
The Kandyan Convention was an agreement signed on 2 March 1815 between the British Governor of Ceylon Sir Robert Brownrigg and the chiefs of the Kandyan Kingdom, British Ceylon for the deposition of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha and ceding of the kingdom's territory to the British Crown. It was signed on 2 March 1815 in the Magul Maduwa of the Royal Palace of Kandy,
The Mahâ Dissâvas was a Great Officer in the Amātya Mandalaya, or Sinhalese Council of State, in the Sinhalese Kingdoms of premodern Sri Lanka. Like many of the existing high offices at the time it had combined legislative and judicial powers and functioned primarily equivalent to that of a Provincial governor. The office of Dissava was retained under the successive European colonial powers, namely the Portuguese Empire, the Dutch East India Company and the British Empire. A Dissava was the governor a province known as a Disavanies. With his province, the Dissava held both executive and judicial authority.
The Sinhalese–Portuguese War was a series of conflicts waged from 1527 to 1658 during the Transitional and Kandyan periods in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese kingdoms and their allies, against the Portuguese Empire. The Crisis of the Sixteenth Century (1521–1597), started with the Vijayabā Kollaya, the division of the Sinhala Kingdom, then centered at Kotte. The country was divided among three brothers resulting in a series of Wars of Succession. It was also at this time that the Portuguese, whose arrival in Sri Lanka was largely accidental, intruded into the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, establishing control over the maritime regions of the island and sought to control its lucrative external trade.
This is a bibliography of works on Sri Lanka.
The Kandyan period covers the history of Sri Lanka from 1597–1815. After the fall of the Kingdom of Kotte, the Kandyan Kingdom was the last Independent monarchy of Sri Lanka. The Kingdom played a major role throughout the history of Sri Lanka. It was founded in 1476. The kingdom located in the central part of Sri Lanka managed to remain independent from both the Portuguese and Dutch rule who controlled coastal parts of Sri Lanka; however, it was colonised by the British in 1815.
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