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Jaffna montage.jpg
Clockwise from top: Jaffna Public Library, the Jaffna-Pannai-Kayts highway, Nallur Kandaswamy temple, Jaffna Fort, Sangiliyan Statue, Jaffna Palace ruins
Location map Sri Lanka Northern Province EN.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 09°39′53″N80°01′00″E / 9.66472°N 80.01667°E / 9.66472; 80.01667 Coordinates: 09°39′53″N80°01′00″E / 9.66472°N 80.01667°E / 9.66472; 80.01667
Country Sri Lanka
Province Northern Province
District Jaffna
  Type Municipal Council
   Mayor E. Arnold (TNA)
  Total20.2 km2 (7.8 sq mi)
5 m (16 ft)
  Density4,400/km2 (11,000/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+5:30 (Sri Lanka Standard Time Zone)
Website Jaffna Municipal Council

Jaffna (Tamil : யாழ்ப்பாணம், translit. Yāḻppāṇam, Sinhalese : යාපනය, translit. Yāpanaya) is the capital city of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna District located on a peninsula of the same name. With a population of 88,138 in 2012, Jaffna is Sri Lanka's 12th most populous city. [1] Jaffna is approximately six miles (9.7 kilometres) from Kandarodai which served as an emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical antiquity. Jaffna's suburb Nallur served as the capital of the four-century-long medieval Jaffna Kingdom.

Tamil language language

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of two countries: Sri Lanka and Singapore and official language of the Indian state Tamil Nadu. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

Northern Province, Sri Lanka Province in Sri Lanka

The Northern Province is one of the nine provinces of Sri Lanka, the first level administrative division of the country. The provinces have existed since the 19th century but did not have any legal status until 1987 when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils. Between 1988 and 2006 the province was temporarily merged with the Eastern Province to form the North Eastern Province. The capital of the province is Jaffna. The majority of the Sri Lankan Civil War was played out in this province.


Prior to the Sri Lankan Civil War, it was Sri Lanka's second most populous city after Colombo. The 1980s insurgent uprising led to extensive damage, expulsion of part of the population, and military occupation. Since the end of civil war in 2009, refugees and internally displaced people began returning to homes, while government and private sector reconstruction started taking place. [2] Historically, Jaffna has been a contested city. It was made into a colonial port town during the Portuguese occupation of the Jaffna peninsula in 1619 who lost it to the Dutch, only to lose it to the British in 1796. During the civil war, the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) occupied Jaffna in 1986. The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) briefly occupied the city in 1987. The LTTE again occupied the city from 1989 until 1995, when the Sri Lankan Army regained control.

Sri Lankan Civil War armed conflict in Sri Lanka (1983–2009) between the government and the separatist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

The Sri Lankan Civil War was an armed conflict fought on the island of Sri Lanka. Beginning on 23 July 1983, there was an intermittent insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which fought to create an independent Tamil state called Tamil Eelam in the north and the east of the island. After a 26-year military campaign, the Sri Lankan military defeated the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, bringing the civil war to an end.

Colombo Commercial Capital in Western Province, Sri Lanka

Colombo is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka by population. According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the city proper. It is the financial centre of the island and a popular tourist destination. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to the Greater Colombo area which includes Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. Colombo is often referred to as the capital since Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is within the urban area of, and a suburb of, Colombo. It is also the administrative capital of the Western Province and the district capital of Colombo District. Colombo is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins. It was the legislative capital of Sri Lanka until 1982.

Portuguese conquest of the Jaffna kingdom

The Portuguese conquest of the Jaffna kingdom occurred after Portuguese traders arrived at the rival Kotte Kingdom in the southwest of modern Sri Lanka in 1505. Many kings of Jaffna, such as Cankili I, initially confronted the Portuguese in their attempts at converting the locals to Roman Catholicism, but eventually made peace with them.

The majority of the city’s population are Sri Lankan Tamils with a significant number of Sri Lankan Moors, Indian Tamils and other ethnic groups present in the city prior to the civil war. Most Sri Lankan Tamils are Hindus followed by Christians, Muslims and a small Buddhist minority. The city is home to number of educational institutions established during the colonial and post-colonial period. It also has number of commercial institutions, minor industrial units, banks, hotels and other government institutions. It is home to many historical sites such as the popular Jaffna library that was burnt down and rebuilt and the Jaffna fort rebuilt during the Dutch colonial period.

Sri Lankan Moors ethnic group

Sri Lankan Moors are an ethnic minority group in Sri Lanka, comprising 9.3% of the country's total population. They are mainly native speakers of the Tamil language with influence of Sinhalese and Arabic words. They are predominantly followers of Islam.

Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka Ethnic group

Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka are Tamil people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka. They are also known as Hill Country Tamils, Up-Country Tamils or simply Indian Tamils. They are partly descended from workers sent from South India to Sri Lanka in the 19th and 20th centuries to work in coffee, tea and rubber plantations. Some also migrated on their own as merchants and as other service providers. These Tamil-speakers mostly live in the central highlands, also known as the Malayakam or Hill Country yet others are also found in major urban areas and in the Northern Province. Although they are all termed as Tamils today, some have Telugu and Malayalee origins as well as diverse South Indian caste origins. They are instrumental in the plantation sector economy of Sri Lanka. In general, socio-economically their standard of living is below that of the national average and they are described as one of the poorest and most neglected groups in Sri Lanka. In 1964 a large percentage were repatriated to India, but left a considerable number as stateless people. By the 1990s most of these had been given Sri Lankan citizenship. Most are Hindus with a minority of Christians and Muslims amongst them. There are also a small minority followers of Buddhism among them. Politically they are supportive of trade union-based political parties that have supported most of the ruling coalitions since the 1980s.

Hindus Adherent of Hinduism

Hindus are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism. Historically, the term has also been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for people indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.


Jaffna is known in Tamil as Yalpanam and earlier known as Yalpanapattinam. An 15th century inscription of the Vijayanagara Empire mentions the place as Yalpaanayanpaddinam. [3] The name also occurs on copper plates issued by Sethupathi kings of the same era. [4] The suffix -pattinam indicates the place to have been a sea-port town. [5]

Vijayanagara Empire Hindu kingdom in Southern India (14th–17th century)

The Vijayanagara Empire was based in the Deccan Plateau region in South India. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of Sangama Dynasty. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts by the southern powers to ward off Islamic invasions by the end of the 13th century. It lasted until 1646, although its power declined after a major military defeat in the Battle of Talikota in 1565 by the combined armies of the Deccan sultanates. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagara, whose ruins surround present day Hampi, now a World Heritage Site in Karnataka, India. The writings of medieval European travelers such as Domingo Paes, Fernão Nunes, and Niccolò Da Conti, and the literature in local languages provide crucial information about its history. Archaeological excavations at Vijayanagara have revealed the empire's power and wealth.

The Sethupathis are a Tamil clan of the Maravar community native to the Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu, India. They were from the 17th century considered independent kings who ruled the Ramnad kingdom, also known as Maravar country. Among the seventy two poligars of the region, the Sethupathi stood first. This special position was conferred not based upon the revenue that his kingdom generated but because of his military prowess. Back in the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Sethupathi ruler could mobilize a considerable army, about 30,000 to 40,000 strong at short notice(one week).

The origin of the name can be traced to a legend about the town's etymology. A king (supposedly Ukkirasinghan ) was visited by the blind Panan musician, who was an expert in vocal music and one skilled in the use of instrument called Yal. [6] The king who was delighted to the music played with the Yal by the Panan, presented him a sandy plain. [7] The Panan returned to India and introduced some members of his tribe as impecunious as himself to accompany to this land of promise, and it is surmised that their place of settlement was that part of the city which is known at present as Passaiyoor and Gurunagar. [8] The Columbuthurai Commercial Harbor situated at Colombuthurai and the harbor known as ‘Aluppanthy’ situated previously at the Gurunagar area seem as its evidences. [9]

Ukkirasinghan was an early king of the Jaffna Peninsula of the 8th century CE, who established his capital at Kandarodai, formerly known as Kadiramalai. According to Yalpana Vaipava Malai, was Ukkirasinghan from the dynasty of Prince Vijaya. He was married to Chola princess Maruta Piravika Valli described as cursed to be born with the face of a horse who visited one of the Pancha Ishwarams, the Naguleswaram temple at Keerimalai to free herself from the curse.


The yazh is a harp used in ancient Tamil music which was the ancestor of modern-day veena. A closely related word yali refers to any structure, particularly front, that resembles the way the tip of stem of this instrument was carved into. The yazh was an open-stringed polyphonous instrument, with gut strings (narambu) with a wooden boat-shaped skin-covered resonator and an ebony stem.

Passaiyoor Suburb in Northern, Sri Lanka

Passaiyoor also spelled Pasaiyur, is a suburb of the city of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka. The suburb is divided into two village officer divisions whose combined population was 2,440 at the 2012 census.

Jaffna is a corrupted version of Yalpanam. The colloquial form of Yalpanam is Yappanam. The Ya and Ja including pp and ff are easily interchangeable. As soon as it went into foreign language, it lost the Tamil ending m and consequently stood as Jaffna. [7]


Early historic period

Megalithic excavations reveal settlements of an early period in this region. The bronze Anaikoddai seal with Tamil-Brahmi and Indus script indicates a clan-based settlement of the last phase of the Iron Age in the Jaffna region. [10] Iron Age urn burials including other Tamil-Brahmi inscribed potsherds found in Kandarodai, Poonakari and Anaikoddai in the Jaffna region, reflects the burial practices of older times. [11] [12] Excavated ceramic sequences in Kandarodai, similar to Arikamedu, revealed South Indian black and red ware, potteries and fine grey ware from 2nd to 5th BCE. [13] Excavations of black and red wares (1000BCE–100CE), grey wares (500BCE–200CE), Sasanian–Islamic wares (200BCE–800CE), Yue green wares (800–900CE), Dusun stone wares (700–1100CE) and Ming Porcelains (1300–1600CE) conducted at the Jaffna Fort hints to maritime trade between the Jaffna Peninsula and South Asia, Arabian Peninsula and the Far East. [14] .

Jaffna and surrounding region was part of the chiefdom of Naga Nadu mentioned in the 5th century AD Tamil epic Manimekalai and the Pali chronicle Mahavamsa as inhabited by tribal Naga people, surmised as one of the earliest tribes of Sri Lanka. They had according to scholars fully assimilated to Tamil language and culture by the 9th century AD or earlier. [15]

Medieval period

During the medieval times, the Kingdom of Aryacakravarti came into existence in the 13th Century as an ally to the Pandyan Empire in South India. [16] When the Pandyan Empire became weak due to Muslim invasions, successive Aryacakravarti rulers made the Jaffna kingdom independent and a regional power to reckon with in Sri Lanka. [17] Nallur a suburb of Jaffna served as the capital of the kingdom.

Politically, it was an expanding power in the 13th and 14th century with all regional kingdoms paying tribute to it. [17] However, it met with simultaneous confrontations with the Vijayanagar empire that ruled from Vijayanagara, southern India, and a rebounding Kotte Kingdom from the southern Sri Lanka. [18] This led to the kingdom becoming a vassal of the Vijyanagar Empire as well as briefly losing its independence under the Kotte kingdom from 1450 to 1467. [17] The kingdom was re-established with the disintegration of Kotte kingdom and the fragmentation of Viyanagara Empire. [19] It maintained very close commercial and political relationships with the Thanjavur Nayakar kingdom in southern India as well as the Kandyan and segments of the Kotte kingdom. This period saw the building of Hindu temples in the peninsula and a flourishing of literature, both in Tamil and Sanskrit. [18] [20] [21]

Colonial history

The Portuguese established Jaffna city in 1621 as their colonial administrative center. [22] Prior to the military capitulation to the Portuguese Empire in 1619, the capital of the local Jaffna Kingdom, also known as the Kingdom of the Aryacakravarti was Nallur, [22] which is close to the city limits of Jaffna. [23] [24] The capital city was known in royal inscriptions and chronicles as Cinkainakar and in other sources as Yalpaanam in Tamil and Yapaapatuna in Sinhalese. [25]

Entrance of Jaffna Fort, which the Portuguese built, and which the Dutch renovated in 1680. Jaffna fort entrance.jpg
Entrance of Jaffna Fort, which the Portuguese built, and which the Dutch renovated in 1680.

From 1590, Portuguese merchants and Catholic missionaries were active within the Jaffna kingdom. Impetus for a permanent fortified settlement happened only after 1619, when the expeditionary forces of the Portuguese Empire led by Filipe de Oliveira captured Cankili II, the last native king. [26] De Oliveira moved the center of political and military control from Nallur to Jaffnapatao [27] (variously spelt as Jaffnapattan or Jaffnapattam), the Portuguese rendition of the native name for the former Royal capital. [28] Jaffnapatao was attacked number of times by A local rebel Migapulle Arachchi and his allied Thanjavur Nayakar expeditionary forces attacked Jaffnapatao a number of times, but the Portuguese defence of the city withstood the attacks. [29] Jaffnapatao was a small town with a fort, a harbour, Catholic chapels, and government buildings. [30] Portuguese merchants took over the lucrative trade of elephants from the interior and monopolised the import of goods from Colombo and India, disfranchising the local merchants. [29] The Portuguese era was a time of population movement to the Vannimais in the south, religious change, and as well as the introduction to the city of European education and health care. [29] [31]

Bird's eye view of the city of Jaffnapatnam in 1658 AMH-4491-NA Bird's eye view of the city of Jaffnapatnam.jpg
Bird's eye view of the city of Jaffnapatnam in 1658

In 1658, Portuguese lost Jaffapatao to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) after a three-month siege. [25] During the Dutch occupation, the city grew in population and size. The Dutch were more tolerant towards native mercantile and religious activities than the Portuguese had been. Most of the Hindu temples that the Portuguese had destroyed were rebuilt. A community of mixed Eurasian Dutch Burghers grew up. The Dutch rebuilt the fort and expanded it considerably. They also built Presbyterian churches and government buildings, most of which survived until the 1980s, but suffered damage or destruction during the subsequent civil war. [33] During the Dutch period, Jaffna also became prominent as a trading town in locally grown agricultural products with the native merchants and farmers profiting as much as the VOC merchants. [34]

Great Britain took over the Dutch possessions in Sri Lanka from 1796. [35] Britain maintained many of the Dutch mercantile, religious, and taxation policies. During the British colonial period, almost all the schools that eventually played role in the high literacy achievement of the Jaffna residents were built by missionaries belonging to American Ceylon Mission, Weslyan Methodist Mission, Saivite reformer Arumuka Navalar and others. [36] [37] Under British rule, Jaffna enjoyed a period of rapid growth and prosperity, [35] as the British built the major roads and railway line connecting the city with Colombo, Kandy and the rest of the country. The prosperity of the city's citizens enabled them to underwrite the building of temples and schools, and the library and museum.

Post-colonial history

After Sri Lanka became independent in 1948 from Britain, the relationship between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils worsened. Residents of Jaffna city along with the rest of Tamil population of Sri Lanka were in the fore front of the political mobilisation behind Tamil nationalist parties. After the Tamil conference incident in 1974, the then mayor of Jaffna Alfred Duraiappah was assassinated by the leader of rebel LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran in 1975. Following further deterioration of political discourse, the Jaffna library was burnt down in 1981 by Police and other miscreants. Failure of the political class to find an adequate compromise led to full-scale civil war starting in 1983 soon after the Black July pogrom. [38] Sri Lankan military and police were using the Dutch era fort as their encampment which was surrounded by various Tamil militant groups. Bombardment from air and land of the city led to damage to civic and civilian properties, death and injury to civilians and destruction the economic potential of the city. In 1986, the Sri Lankan military withdrew from the city and it came under the full control of the LTTE.

In 1987, the Indian forces brought to Sri Lanka under the auspices of the Indo- Sri Lankan peace accord led an operation to take the city from the rebels. It led to incidents like the Jaffna University helidrop and Jaffna hospital massacre in which patients and medical workers were killed by the Indian Army. [39] More than 200 civilians were also killed during attempt to take the city over by the IPKF. [40] After the departure of the Indians, the city came under the control of the LTTE once more, but they were ousted in 1995 after a 50-day siege. The economic embargo of the rebel controlled territories in general also had a negative impact in Jaffna including lack of power, critical medicines and food. During the period of LTTE occupation, all Muslim residents were expelled in 1990 and forced evacuated all residents in 1995.[ clarification needed ] [41] Since the end of civil war in 2009, refugees have begun to return and visible reconstruction has taken place. The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora and business interests from Colombo have invested in commercial enterprises. Countries in Europe, US and India have shown an interest in investing in infrastructure projects and other economic activities.


The Jaffna Municipal Council governs the City of Jaffna. It was established under the Municipalities Ordinance Act of 1865. Although other cities such as Kandy, Galle and Colombo had elected municipal councils soon after the 1865 ordinance, Jaffna did not have an elected municipal council for many years. This reflected the desire of the British bureaucrats to govern the city directly rather than share power with a highly literate electorate. [42] The first elected mayor was Cathiravelu Ponnambalam. [43] Number of subsequent mayors were assassinated such as Alfred Duraiappah, Sarojini Yogeswaran and Pon Sivapalan. [44] There were 15 years without elections after 1983.

The post civil war elections were held in 2009 after a gap of 11 years. The municipal council consists of 29 members. [45] As the original municipal council building was destroyed during the civil war, a new building is to be constructed for the current municipal council in 2011. [46]

Geography and climate

The city is surrounded by Jaffna Lagoon to its west and south, Kokkuvil and Thirunelveli to the north, and Nallur to the east. Jaffna peninsula is made of limestone as it was submerged under sea during the Miocene period. The limestone is grey, yellow and white porous type. The entire land mass is flat and lies at sea level. Within one mile (1.6 kilometres) of the city center is the island of Mandativu which is connected by a causway. Palmyrah groves can be seen where land has not been used for construction. Other notable vegetation is a leafless shrub called talai (alae africana) and koddanai (oleander). [47]

Jaffna features a tropical savanna climate (As) with a dry season between February and August, and a wet season between September and January. Jaffna has the highest average temperature in Sri Lanka of 83 °F (28 °C). The temperature is highest in the months of April – May and August – September. The temperature is coolest in December – January. The annual rainfall is brought in by the North East monsoon and it varies from one place to the other and also from year to year. The average rainfall is 50 inches in the western part of Jaffna peninsula. [47]

Climate data for Jaffna
Record high °C (°F)35.0
Average high °C (°F)28.5
Average low °C (°F)23.0
Record low °C (°F)16.6
Average rainfall mm (inches)69.6
Average rainy days42243233511151367
Source #1: World Meteorological Organisation [48]
Source #2: Department of Meteorology (records up to 2007) [49]


Historically residents of Jaffna city were Tamils, Moors (Muslims), Europeans and Eurasian Burghers. [25] Over time the composition changed with Tamils and Moors predominating and Europeans and Burghers either assimilating or moving away. Europeans and the natives lived in separate sections of the city. Most houses were modest in size and the streets were kept clean. [50] After 1900's the population increased and Sinhalese from the south also settled in Jaffna. Prior to the civil war there were Moors, Sinhalese, Indian Tamils and other ethnic groups living in Jaffna.

During colonial times Jaffna was Ceylon's (Sri Lanka) second largest city. Post-independence the city was overtaken by the growth of settlements near Colombo. But even in 1981 Jaffna was the largest city outside the Greater Colombo area. The population of Jaffna, like the rest of the North and East, has been heavily affected by the civil war. Many of its Tamil residents have emigrated to the West or moved to the relative safety of Colombo. [35] The city's small Moor and Sinhalese population have either been forcibly expelled or fled. As a consequence the city's population is significantly lower than it was 30 years ago. Many of the city's residents who left during the civil war have settled down elsewhere and are unlikely to return. There have been reports, particularly after the end of the civil war in 2009, about resettling those residents who wish to return to Jaffna but there hasn't been any substantive effort to do so yet.

Historic Population of Jaffna 1880 to 2010 [25] [51] [52]

Suburbs of Jaffna

Jaffna Public Library. Construction began in 1933. Jaffna library.jpg
Jaffna Public Library. Construction began in 1933.


Mosque in Jaffna.jpg
St. James' Church, Gurunagar.jpg
Left: Restored Muslim Mosque in a bombed out portion of the city. Right: St.James Church originally established in 1861, located in Gurunagar

Most Tamils are Hindus, professing the Shaivite sect but might also propitiate the village deities. Most Christians are Roman Catholics with a small but influential number of Protestants belonging to the Church of South India, the successor organisation of American Ceylon Mission and other colonial era Protestant churches. The Catholic Church has a diocese headquartered in the city. All Moors were Muslims with the Sunni sect predominating with a small number of Shias prevalent amongst mercantile immigrants from North India or Pakistan. There is a small community of Tamil Buddhists who converted to Theravada Buddhism during the 20th century due to the efforts of Maha Bodhi Society. [53] Most Sinhalese were either Buddhists or Catholics.

There was a small community of nomadic wanderers known as Kuravar who visited Jaffna seasonally and spoke a dialect of Telugu or Tamil. Tamils were also divided along the caste system but as an urban area class was more important than caste which was more pronounced in rural areas of Jaffna district.

Economy & Transportation

Jaffna city was founded as a trading town by European merchants. Although a historic port used by the native Jaffna kingdom was already in existence when the Portuguese arrived, it was the European mercantile activity that made it prominent. In colonial times, production of clothes, items of gold and silver, processing of tobacco, rice and other related activities formed an important part of the economic activities. [54] In modern times, the port was its principal source of revenue but it has declined drastically. Currently it survives as a fishing port. The city had a wide range of industries, including food processing, packaging, making of household items, and salt processing, but most ceased after 1995. [35] Since then, most industrialists, entrepreneurs, and business people have relocated to the rest of Sri Lanka and abroad. After 2009, foreign governments within the EU, US, India, and investors from the south of the island and the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora have shown an interest in making investments in Jaffna district in general and Jaffna city in particular. [35] Shopping malls such as the Cargills Square and hotels such as Jetwing Jaffna, Tilko Jaffna City Hotel have been built boosting the tourism industry in the city. [55] [56]

Jaffna is 396 kilometres (246 miles) from Colombo. It is directly connected by railways and the roads system. The city was served by the Yal Devi train and other 5 trains daily from Colombo. [57] The primary railway station in the city is the Jaffna Railway Station. The A-9 highway connecting the city with the rest of the country was opened after the 2002 ceasefire. It is served by government and private sector coaches and buses. Commercial flights are available from Colombo to Jaffna via the Palali Airport. [58] Since 2017 an express ferry service connects Jaffna with Delft islands. [59]


Jaffna city has number of education institutions founded by the missionary efforts and Saivite revivalism during the British colonial period. Peter Percival a Wesleyan Missionary started several schools in Jaffna city including Jaffna Central College and Vembadi Girls’ High School. Prior to the civil war, the city had one of the highest literacy rates within Sri Lanka. [58]

Literature & Media

Jaffna has had a media sector from the mid-1800s. The first known English and Tamil weekly called, Uthayatharakai in Tamil or Morning Star was published jointly in 1840 by American Ceylon Mission and the Weslyan church. In 1863 the Ceylon Patriot was published by a local advocate as a weekly. The Jaffna Catholic Guardian and the Hindu Organ were published by Roman Catholic and Hindu organisation to present their religious interests between 1876 and 1889 respectively. The first Tamil monthly was Sanmarkapothini which was published in 1884. [60]

These early journals were followed by number popular newspapers in Tamil such as Eelakesari and Eelanadu. Jaffna was also the seen the publication of journals committed to the growth of modernistic and socially purposive literature such as Bharati and Marumalarchi in 1946. Now defunct English weekly Saturday Review was an influential news magazine that came out of Jaffna.

During the civil war many publishers, authors and journalists were assassinated or arrested and the media heavily censored. Since the 2000s Jaffna is served by newspapers such as Uthayan , Yarl Thinakkural and Valampurii.

Notable buildings

Most historic buildings such as Temples, Saraswathy Mahal library and palaces in the royal city of Nallur and the rest of Jaffna peninsula were destroyed by the Portuguese colonials. Materials from destroyed buildings were used in the construction of the Jaffna fort and other fortifications. [33] Cankilian Thopu or entrance of the palace of Cankili I and Mantri Manai or minister's palace are few of the pre-colonial buildings still standing in the royal quarters of Nallur. Within the Jaffna city proper, the Dutch fort is an imposing structure followed by many Dutch era homes, churches and civil buildings most of which were damaged during the civil war. There are number of British colonial era building such as the Indo-Sarasenic style clock tower and the Public library that are notable. Almost all Hindu temples in Jaffna including the socially important Nallur Kandaswamy temple were reconstructed during the Dutch and British period.

Twin towns – sister cities

Sister City initiatives give opportunities for the cities' residents to come to know each other's cultures. [61]

The initiatives will facilitate the cultural, educational, municipal, business, professional and technical exchanges and projects among the sister cities. [61]

Its sister cities are: [61]

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Sri Lankan Tamils Ethnic group

Sri Lankan Tamils or Ceylon Tamils, also known as Eelam Tamils in Tamil, are members of the Tamil ethnic group native to the South Asian island state of Sri Lanka. According to anthropological and archaeological evidence, Sri Lankan Tamils have a very long history in Sri Lanka and have lived on the island since at least around the 2nd century BCE. Most modern Sri Lankan Tamils claim descent from residents of Jaffna Kingdom, a former kingdom in the north of the island and Vannimai chieftaincies from the east. They constitute a majority in the Northern Province, live in significant numbers in the Eastern Province and are in the minority throughout the rest of the country. 70% of Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka live in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

Karaiyar is a Sri Lankan Tamil caste found mainly on the northern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka, and globally among the Tamil diaspora.

Thileepan Sri Lankan rebel

Rasaiah Parthipan was a Sri Lankan Tamil rebel and member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist Tamil militant organisation in Sri Lanka. He died while on hunger strike.

Jaffna District Administrative District in Northern, Sri Lanka

Jaffna District is one of the 25 districts of Sri Lanka, the second level administrative division of the country. The district is administered by a District Secretariat headed by a District Secretary appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The capital of the district is the city of Jaffna.

Kilinochchi District Administrative District in Northern, Sri Lanka

Kilinochchi District is one of the 25 districts of Sri Lanka, the second level administrative division of the country. The district is administered by a District Secretariat headed by a District Secretary appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The capital of the district is the town of Kilinochchi.

Sri Lankan Vellalar is a caste found in Sri Lanka, who comprise about half of the Sri Lankan Tamil population. They were traditionally involved in agriculture, but also included merchants, landowners and temple patrons. They also form part of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

Mullaitivu District Administrative District in Northern, Sri Lanka

Mullaitivu District is one of the 25 districts of Sri Lanka, the second level administrative division of the country. The district is administered by a District Secretariat headed by a District Secretary appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The capital of the district is the town of Mullaitivu.

Vavuniya District Administrative District in Northern, Sri Lanka

Vavuniya District is one of the 25 districts of Sri Lanka, the second level administrative division of the country. The district is administered by a District Secretariat headed by a District Secretary appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The capital of the district is the city of Vavuniya.

American Ceylon Mission

The American Ceylon Mission (ACM) to Jaffna, Sri Lanka started with the arrival in 1813 of missionaries sponsored by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). The British colonial office in India and Ceylon restricted the Americans to the relatively small Jaffna Peninsula for geopolitical reasons for almost 40 years. The critical period of the impact of the missionaries was from the 1820s to early 20th century. During this time, they engaged in original translations from English to Tamil, printing, and publishing, establishing primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions and providing health care for residents of the Jaffna Peninsula. These activities resulted in many social changes amongst Sri Lankan Tamils that survive even today. They also led to the attainment of a lopsided literacy level among residents in the relatively small peninsula that is cited by scholars as one of the primary factors contributing to the recently ended civil war. Many notable educational and health institutions within the Jaffna Peninsula owe their origins to the missionary activists from America. Missionaries also courted controversy by publishing negative information about local religious practices and rituals.

Forts in Sri Lanka

Forts and fortifications in Sri Lanka date back thousands of years with many being built by Sri Lankan Kings, these include several walled cities. With the out set of colonial rule in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka was occupied by several major colonial empires that from time-to-time became the dominant power in the Indian Ocean. The colonists built several western styled forts, mostly in and round the cost of the island. The first to build colonial forts in Sri Lanka were the Portuguese, these forts were captured and later expanded by the Dutch. The British occupied these Dutch forts during the Napoleonic wars.

Kandarodai is a small hamlet and archaeological site of Chunnakam town, a suburb in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

Portuguese Ceylon

Portuguese Ceylon was the control of the Kingdom of Kotte by the Portuguese Empire, in present-day Sri Lanka, after the country's Crisis of the Sixteenth Century and into the Kandyan period.


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Further reading