At a Glance:

Government Portal

Current constitution in force since: 1978

Constituent units: unitary state with certain powers devolved to the 9 provinces

Head of State: President

Head of Government: Prime Minister

Legislature: Parliament of Sri Lanka (unicameral)


Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Our work in Sri Lanka

Since 2003 the Forum has worked with local partners in Sri Lanka to organize learning events on issues ranging from the peace process to women and power sharing.

Government in Sri Lanka

In post-civil war Sri Lanka, the fighting has ended but the underlying problems that fuelled the conflict and hence the war still remain.

Sri Lanka’s two major ethnic groups, Sinhala and Tamils, have different languages and even alphabets. The first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka from India late in the 6th century B.C. and adopted Buddhism in the 3rd century B.C. The first Tamils arrived in the 3rd century B.C. and established a kingdom in northern Sri Lanka in the 13th century A.D. Portugal gained control of the coastal areas in the 16th century A.D. and the Dutch took over in the late 17th century. The British ejected the Dutch in 1796 after a few brief skirmishes and in 1802 Sri Lanka became a British crown colony.

Known as Ceylon, it gained independence in 1948. The country’s name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. Tensions rose and war broke out between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists in 1983. After 20 years of civil war, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a cease-fire agreement with the government of Sri Lanka in February 2002, with Norway facilitating peace negotiations.

Fighting resumed between the LTTE and government by 2006 and in 2009 the LTTE were decisively defeated. Earlier attempts at a political solution, that could have included some form of federal or quasi-federal arrangement, had broken down in 2006, after the election of Mahinda Rajapakse as President in late 2005.