Sri Lanka and its Ethnic Conflicts

What causes Ethnicities to Clash

The Brief Overview

This country never got a good start when it finally became a country in 1948 after it was decided that they would become its own nation. Thanks to 2 ethnicities, they brought down the economy and overall lost popularity to the tourists for more than 25 years. The Sinhalese live down in the south and west of Sri Lanka, and the Tamils live up north and east.

Going to its Roots

After being part of Britain's territory, Ceylon (the original name of Sri Lanka) voted upon themselves to be an independent nation, separating from British authorities. However, not long after their independence did a bit of a dispute occurred .Early on, Sri Lanka originally was going to even out the 2 ethnicities, however, the Sinhalese people went against it, claiming that the Tamils got their share of love from Britain. Because of these turnabouts, in 1948, the gov't let go of Tamil plantation owners, about 12% of the population.

In 1956, the government passed a "Sinhalese-only" act; the English language was replaced. Being rightfully upset about this act, the Tamils lead a couple of riots and protests regarding it, but the Sinhalese people ended up stopping them in their tracks, discriminate them even more, and flat out humiliated them, resulting about 100 deaths because of this. More deaths and riots lead on the Anti-Tamils side (burning a library, killing more Tamils, changing the official religon to Buddism (the Tamils were part of the Hindu faith), and creating the TULF ( Tamils United Liberation Front) party), while on the other side, they formed the LTTE (The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) to fight for an independent Tamil state in 1976. It wasn't til 1983 where the kick start of the war happened. 13 Sinhalese soldiers died and in retaliation, over thousands of Tamils died. Others evacuated to India or other places but the rest stayed and went into civil war.

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The Civil War

After the deaths of 2,000 Tamils, war finally hit the country. The "First Eelam War" erupted, however, this portion of the war only had one battle, called the Vadamarachchi Operation. This period, however, forced the Sinhalese to bring India's peace making forces over to the north to negotiate with the Tamils. Couple of years later, the Indian army retreat back after the violence over at the north were intensifying, leading to "The Second Eelam War,". Because the war was getting worse, with the LTTE and their suicide bombers and the Sinhalese's retreating and failing, many citizens were killed for getting in the way. Others fled away to India, or any nearby country. Outside the country, Sri Lanka lost many tourists from Asia and even America. The economy of Sri Lanka went far down, that they had to rely on others for a little bit of time. Like mentioned before, peace talks were given to the LTTE, only for them to surprise the Sinhalese people with more violence and bombings, leading to the third portion of the war. The whole point of the civil war happening is because the Tamils are trying to tell the government that they want to become an independent Tamil state, not wanting to deal with the Sinhalese nation, however, the Sri Lankan government doesn't agree and want to convince them to stay. That's why most major battles involved Tamils trying to take their territory to themselves.

Battles in Order

Eelam War I

Kokkilai offense- First attack from the LTTE in Sri Lankan soil

Vadamarachchi Operation- The Sri Lankan military tries to gain back control of the territory (hence the name of mission) from the LTTE.

Eelam War II

Battle of Kokavil- The battle over who gets to control a town named Kokavil

Battle of Pooneryn- The massive attack from the LTTE that surprised the military forces because of its tactical plan of not only attacking on the land, but by the lagoon.

First Battle of Elephant Pass- It became a bloody battle for both sides

Operation Balavegaya- amphibious assault launched by the Sri Lankan Military

Operation Sea Breeze- break the siege and reinforce the Sri Lanka Army camp in Mullaitivu

Operation Thrividha Balaya- break the siege of the Sri Lanka Army garrison of the old Dutch Jaffna Fort in Jaffna

Eelam War III

Vavunathivu Offensive- Tigers captured Vavunathivu Army camp

Battle of Kilinochchi

Battle for the A-9 highway

Battle of Jaffna

Battle of Mullaitivu

Oddusuddan offensive- Tamil Tigers captured Oddusuddan

Operation Jayasikurui- a land route to the government-held Jaffna peninsula

Operation Rana Gosa

Operation Riviresa -capture of the city of Jaffna and rest of the Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE

Second Battle of Elephant Pass- Battle to control of the Sri Lankan military base in Elephant Pass, Jaffna

Thandikulam–Omanthai offensive-control of the towns of Thandikulam and Omanthai in Sri Lanka in June 1997.

Eelam War IV

Battle of Delft- naval battle Sri Lankan Navy claimed that it received reports of a boat cluster moving off of Delft Island.

Battle off the coast of Jaffna- naval battle, battle begun as the Navy met the rebel ships and exchanged fire.


A battle that has lasted for 25 years, Sri Lanka has suffered through many hardships because of the 2 conflicting ethnicities. With 80,000 - 100,000 deaths, the country fell apart. A lot of damage to a couple of areas up north at the peninsula.